How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

I was teaching the Financial Learning Experience here at NewSpring Church on Tuesday evening this week, and I had a gentleman raise his hand and ask this question.

"How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?" 

My answer?  I don't know to stop the impulsive nature, but I DO know how to control my impulse to spend recklessly.

I am a SPENDER.  I am the type of person who would go out and accidentally buy a truck.  I am a spender to my very core.  I like buying things.

Here are some steps I have taken that helped me reign in my impulsive spending nature, and it has allowed us to win financially!

  • Written Spending Plan  Putting together a written spending plan EVERY month before the month begins using the budget forms that are available on the TOOLS page.  Jenn and I do this EVERY month before the month begins.  Did you catch that?  EVERY month.  It reinforces the fact that we cannot flippantly spend our money and expect to succeed.
  • Cash Envelopes  I am an impulsive spender, but even I will not impulsively spend money on the electric bill.  I won't impulsively purchase gasoline.  I don't impulsively send extra money to the cable company.  There are some things that I am not going to impulsively spend money on.  However, there are some things that I am VERY impulsive about.  Items like groceries, dining out, clothes, spending money, and entertainment.  I can go through some money really fast with these items!  Since I KNOW that I am impulsive for these spending categories, I use cash envelopes.  At the start of the month we add up the amount we have put in the budget for these categories.  We then pull that amount out in CASH.  The rule is that we can not pull more money out from the bank AND we can not use the ATM or debit card.  I can not overspend cash.
  • Chopped Up Credit Cards  You may pay yours off every month, but the vast majority of Americans do not.  I was part of the vast majority, and I had to admit that I was a completely LOSER with credit cards.  I ran those stupid things up three different times.  STUPID with them.  They really catered to my impulsive nature.  So I did what had to be done and applied the scissor blades to them and shut the accounts down.

If you are a fellow spender, what have you done to control your impulsive spending habits?

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.  It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.


  1. Rindy Walton on May 23, 2008 at 4:53 am

    One of the things I try to do, and have taught my kids to do, is when we want to buy something “extra” is to simply wait a specified length of time and set a date.

    Usually what happens is either we look and find the best deal for something we really want or need…or reality sets in and the thrill wears off and we move on to the next thing!

  2. Michael M on May 23, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    In addition to a written plan and following Joe’s debt reduction calculator, we plan our irregular purchases/expenses. For example, if we know our auto insurance will cause a $1,200.00 a year, we automatically save $100.00 a month in an ING savings account so that when the bill comes due we can pay it immediately. We also plan and research our purchases from clothing to household items to make sure we are getting the best value for our dollar. Finally, on major purchases we think about it over the course of several weeks and weighs the pros and cons.

  3. Cathy Twilley on May 23, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    You visited Avalon church, McDonough, GA. not too long ago where I attended & also went to your seminar. I just wanted to say that after your seminar I came home and cut up 9 credit cards, (some I’ve had for years.) I’m single and selling my 3 bedroom, 2 bath home to down size. (or at least until I remarry) about a year ago I quit a 9 yr job because I lived to work. Now I feel free of so many burdens and look forward to God’s blessings and faitfulness. we don’t have to work 12 to 15 yrs a day for God to notice us and to know our worth.

    I just want to say thanks for sharing your story and enthusiasm as you have a great calling on your life.

    God bless to you & your family,

    Cathy Twilley
    Avalon church
    McDonough, GA.

  4. Ilevbabor Michael on February 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

    What I do is I write a list of things I have to do and make sure I fulfill them. I have to create a miscellenous account so I can spent from there for any unusual spending. I follow my list strictly.When I get the money to fufill me list, I seperate all monies into envelopes so as to differentiate them. The I make payments.

    We need God to help us. We need to plan and be strict with ourselves. It is often said that the greatest enemy of man is ourselves. We must train ourselves no matter how long it take.

    Thank you.

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