There is a reason I am the one writing this post. Of the two of us, I am the one who struggles most with impulse buys, spree spending and plain old buying crap we don't really need. To clarify, Robin writing this would be preachy, me writing this is the Al Anon equivalent of, "Hi, my name is Ed, it has been 3 weeks since I bought something stupid I didn't really need".
In unison, "Hello, Ed..."
While I have always heard that 'waiting to buy' is always financially smarter than 'buying now' and that 'if a deal is honest, it will still be there after you sleep on it', I have had real trouble 'getting it'. I read a book, "Filthy Lucre" by Joseph Heath, this past year that helped galvanize it for me.
These aren't just words that jerks say to us to make us feel bad about buying stuff. There is a lot of real evidence to support it.
Basically, people who value long term payoff over short-term payoff will be financially healthier than those who do not.
The author uses the analogy of school - which spoke to me (after all, I am a teacher). We tell kids that sticking with school will get you a better job and a better life. But that is a long term payout. Things that payoff right now - a part time job, playing video games, etc - are going to be valued more by some kids.
If you are one of them: Bad News - the short payoff is just that - a short payoff. It also sets up a pattern of kids valuing instant over delayed gratification. Smoking, Rent-to-Own and Payday Loans were all examples the author used to illustrate the perils of now vs. later payoffs. Not surprisingly, all are terrible for the finances too.
The good news is that you can teach yourself to delay enjoyment.
No, not with tantric yoga (insert Sting joke here), but simply by trying saying 'No' to the retail store a few times. And the research also shows that if you start small (delay buying a new phone from this month to next, for example), it gets easier.
Technology is littered with helpful short term examples if you want some motivation.
Did you buy an iPod when they first came out? You paid over $400 for a 5 GB powerhouse (1000 songs!). It only worked on a Mac. Wait a little over a year and you could get a PC compatible version for $100 less. Wait a couple more years and you could score an iPod mini (only 4GB) but featuring the first 'Click Wheel' and a $249.00 price tag. How about Gaming Systems? The PlayStation 3 ranged in price for $500-$600 on release. Now? $249 for a system with 100GB more memory than the $600 model.
Again, some honesty - if I had married another spender, I would likely be in trouble. Robin and 'Goals' helped support my transition to frugality.
I feel your pain and still, years later, I find myself with a mouse hovering over a 'Buy It Now' button and a twitching trigger finger. But I also know that my threshold for impulse buys has gone waaay up - now it seems even a discount DVD player for the basement is a 'Shopping Spree'.
Anyhow, from one junkie to the next, you don't have to get clean overnight and the withdrawal symptoms can be managed. The long term rewards are worth it.