How Impulse Spending Kept Me From Retiring Early – Business Insider

How Impulse Spending Kept Me From Retiring Early – Business Insider

  • My husband and I always planned to work into our 60s, but the pandemic made us want to retire earlier.
  • However, we can’t afford to — and I’m convinced my impulse spending habits are a big reason why.
  • Now, I’m changing those habits to save more money in the working years we have left.
  • Read more from Personal Finance Insider.

My husband is eligible for retirement in less than a month.

We knew this date was coming, but we had decided to work into our 60s until the pandemic hit. Now, after spending two years together at home, we wish we were financially prepared to hang up button-down shirts and slacks and forget alarms, working late, and frequently missed dinners.

If we had been more careful, in a few short weeks, we could have been spending the time drinking our morning coffee and scouring the internet for a conversion van to hit the road instead of preparing for another staff meeting. 

I’m convinced impulse spending set us back years

I’ve recently spent a lot of time wondering what we could have done differently to make an early retirement a reality. As I think about it, I keep coming back to one thing: impulse spending. I do this kind of spending while scrolling on social media, where the ads target me specifically. I hate to admit the number of times I have gone down a rabbit hole with these ads and ended up buying something I never knew I wanted and certainly didn’t need. 

Another example of this type of spending is heading to a big box store without a list of specific items I need to keep my household running. I find myself in these stores saying things like, “Oh, look how cute that kitchen towel set is!” or “This t-shirt is on sale for $9.99!” 

And the two types of impulse spending that have cost me the most over the years are going to my favorite store’s websites and “browsing” their sales, and going to “look” at bookstores. How many jeans have I bought that I only wore once? How many books have I started that I never finished? How many dresses were only in style for a season? Too many to count is the truthful answer.


Now, I’m changing my spending habits for the better

Recently, I have put some safeguards to help me avoid this unnecessary type of spending. Now, I put items in my online shopping cart and wait 24 hours before checking out. There are times when the item is no longer available the next day, and at other times, I will change my mind about one or two things and remove them from the cart — but what happens most frequently is deciding to cancel the order altogether. 

I no longer go shopping at any store without a list. If I need to go to Costco or Target, I make a list just like I do for the grocery store, and I stick to it. 

Finally, I have started following the actions of friends and family members who regularly use their library cards instead of purchasing books. …….