Overcoming A Strong, Sudden Bad Spending Impulse

Wii!Yesterday morning, I went to a Target just as it opened looking for some baby wipes for my son. As I strolled through the store, I noticed a small, excited crowd in the home electronics section, so I walked over to see what was going on. The store had received a new shipment of Nintendo Wiis and people were clamoring to get their hands on one.

As I’ve mentioned on here a few times, I’ve wanted a Nintendo Wii for a while and seeing lots of people getting one drove the desire to a fever pitch. There were about six left after the people in line got theirs and so I could have easily reached out and gotten one. We were at a family event, so I could easily visualize taking it back, getting it out, and playing Wii Sports with my sisters-in-law and other family members.

What kept me from doing it, you ask? Here’s what I did instead.

I took a walk around the store. Instead of just grabbing one and rushing for the checkouts as my gut told me to do, I decided instead to take a walk around the store, think about the item, and find the other thing I was intending to purchase (namely, the baby wipes). This gave me a “cooling off” period to get my rampant consumerism in check.

I considered the other things I could do with that $250. I could buy my son a very nice toddler bed with that money. It would buy a piece of furniture or two for the new house. That money could also be used to really stock the pantry when we move with all sorts of cooking supplies that would not only feed another hobby of mine but would feed my family as well. It could pay for part of a lawnmower, too. In short, I thought of many better uses for the money than buying a Nintendo Wii.

I seriously evaluated how much I would use the Wii if I did buy it. In truth, not all that much. It would be a complete blast when friends and family were visiting and I could see my wife and I playing bowling and boxing in the evenings, but other than that it would just sit and gather dust. I can think of many other fun things to do with my wife in the evening and also with visiting family and friends than merely playing with a $250 toy.

I decided not to discuss the purchase with my wife until after I left the store. I didn’t pick up my cell phone and call her because I think there’s some chance she would just tell me to get it, especially since The Simple Dollar is doing well. I knew that if I left the store, then discussed it with her, the odds of spending that unnecessary money were much less, but I could still express my desire to own one.

I gave myself a much lighter reward for making the correct but difficult choice. What was that? I ordered a few purely fun books from PaperBackSwap after we returned from the trip. It didn’t cost me anything, but it was fun and it felt like a reward after being “good” and not spending money – this reward didn’t violate the spirit of not buying the Wii, either, because it didn’t cost anything.

Just a year ago, I would have just grabbed the Wii and headed for the exits. I guess this experience is a clear sign of a change in financial direction.

Loading Disqus Comments ...