Impulse Shopping is Fun
I was lying in bed this morning and the urge to do some impulse shopping for fancy work shoes online struck me. I’ve had my eye on some nice brown dress shoes that would go really good with the belt I got for Christmas. They’re about $130, but I’ve made the commitment this month to reduce spending so I can afford a race registration.
So instead of hitting the checkout button on my laptop, I surfed over to another web page. Even though I’m limiting the amount of money that can go towards shopping this month, I’ve got no limit on how much I can invest. So to calm my urge to buy something new, I threw a couple hundred dollars into my Vanguard total stock market index fund. This officially put me over the $10,000 mark so I can transform it into VFIAX Admiral Shares (lower expense ratio).
Feeling my need to impulse shop sated, I moved on to the book I’ve been meaning to get into,and continued to enjoy a relaxing morning. Obviously this habit wouldn’t go so well if I needed that couple hundred dollars for rent or food, but I’ve got a significant buffer in my checking account so it can easily absorb my investing impulses. Sometimes you just want to buy something, and buying more cash producing assets tends to be a great choice.
When has it ever gone well?
Think back to a time when impulse shopping turned out well. It’s almost always cheaper to hold off for a few days. You might find a sale, find it for cheaper on Amazon, or just decide you really don’t need it. Here’s how my last few impulse purchases have gone.
- A Bill Bryson book for my Dad’s birthday: I was in the local book shop looking for a gift since it was a few days before my Dad’s birthday. We are going to hike a small portion of the Appalacian trail this summer so I got him A Walk in the Woods. It cost me $17. Had I waited a day, I would have found out that he already had the book, and that Amazon sell it for $8.
- My $100 Fitbit: A Fitbit is essentially a smart pedometer. I bought it on an impulse back in November just because I thought it would help keep me fit. So far I love it, but it’s not a whole lot better than a a $3 pedometer. It’s great at counting steps, encouraging exercise, and showing you graphs, but it turns out I was already pretty motivated beforehand.
- Appetizers: The other day I was out to dinner with a friend and I found myself ordering the bruschetta. It’s not that I don’t like bruschetta, theirs was actually really tasty, it’s just that restaurant portions are always about 200% of what a meal should be. So by ordering the appetizer as well, I pretty much got 250% of a meal. In retrospect it seems like a waste of money.
I guess the lesson I’ve got to come away with here is that it never hurts to think on an impulse shopping decision for a little while longer. Impulse investing, on the other hand, has always been great fun. Sure the value can drop the next day, but you’ve still put your money in an asset that will, presumably, make you richer over time instead of poorer.