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Harness the Power of Impulse Saving

Have you ever gone to the mall and impulsively bought something you hadn’t intended? Have you ever gone to the grocery store and walked out with a couple things you didn’t plan on getting? Sure, we all have. I’ve gone to the supermarket for some chicken, eggs, and yogurt only to return with coffee filters and a package of pork ribs because both were on sale (coffee filters are never on sale, probably because a package of 100 only costs $2 anyway and you can conceivably use it for 100 days!). It’s called impulsive buying and here’s a close cousin of it that is very powerful but less often used: impulse saving. Here’s one great way you an impulsively save:

Impulse Saving & Debt Paydown

Get a yourself a six-sided die (or more sides if you prefer) and roll it. Take that number, multiple it by ten, and put it in a savings account or pay down a debt. Do it every single time you get a paycheck and learn to live without the money in your budget.

If you don’t have a die, figure out another way to randomly generate a number. If you truly can’t afford to save up to $60 a month without feeling great pains, multiple the number by $5 so the top impulse saving amount is $30. If you truly can’t afford to save up to $30, you need to re-assess your financial situation, but for that’s a topic for another time.

To facilitate impulse saving, electronically link up your bank accounts or set up electronic bill pay [3]. This lets you quickly and easily save or pay down debt in a handful of clicks. Without electronic means, the transfer of savings or pay down of debt is made less efficient to make smaller transfers and payments.

Why Do This?

Saving money and paying down debt is hard and any little trick you can take advantage of will be to your advantage. I think impulse saving is a lot like snowflaking [4] (an idea and term first coined by PaidTwice [5], someone please clarify if I have this wrong). With snowflaking you generate more income through various means and put it towards your debt. With impulse saving, you force yourself to spend less of the unplanned “noise” in your budget by “spending” it first on savings or debt. The ideas are close cousins but slightly different in where the funds come from.

So, why should you do this? Because we impulsively buy stuff all the time. No matter how disciplined we are, there is always noise in our budget that we simply cannot account. Rather than fight it, take advantage by spending it before you get the opportunity to spend it. If you impulsively save it first, then you are less likely to impulsively spend it. This won’t prevent you from impulsively spending but if you do, the impulse savings are cutting down your debt. It’s like improving your worst case. (worst case is nothing, you spend but already paid down by that amount; best case is that you pay down debt)

How Good Is This Idea?

Let’s take an example to illustrate how powerful this can be. If you have $8,000 in credit card debt at 19.99%, it would take 11 years and 1 month of $400/mo payments to clear the debt. By paying down an additional $30 a month, (less than the average impulse save of $35, but you get the idea) it takes only 10 years and 2 months, a difference of eleven months. If eleven months doesn’t sound like a lot, remember it’s eleven months of $430 payments, or $4,730! If you combine this idea with some debt consolidation by way of 0% balance transfers or peer-to-peer lending marketplaces, you can do some serious damage to your debt.

So, if you have some debt, consider some impulse saving, it’s the latest thing in debt busting since snowflaking!