I have the unusual blessing (and curse) of being more comfortable walking away from a purchase than following through when out shopping.

It’s a rare occasion that I have buyer’s remorse, because I often buy things with much research and planning.  On the flip side, it often takes me days, weeks, or even months to buy things that I’ve decided to purchase.  Maybe I can’t bring myself to spend the money; maybe I can’t decide which “type” of thing I want.

Case in point: I decided to buy an iPad some time ago.  I had money set aside for it for quite a while.  It took me months – months – to actually bone up and pull the trigger, just because I never settled on a color/size/capacity/style.  When I finally purchased it, I loved it and wondered what took me so long.

I realize this isn’t the case for many people.  More often then not, many people deal with the temptation to buy something.  We live in the most marketed-to culture ever.  Online and traditional retailers are masters at separating us with our money.  It’s not a bad thing, but it can be bad for our wallets!  We just have to be aware of its effect on us and know how to handle it like the adults we are.

So I wanted to share 5 tips on how to handle the temptation to buy something you hadn’t planned for:

1) Walk away, just walk away. 
Sir, please step away from the golf clubs!  Physically remove yourself from the sale rack, the checkout line, the computer, whatever is the source.  If you’re at the mall it wouldn’t hurt to go out and walk around for a spell.  This gives time for your blood pressure to recover, your pulse to slow down, and for your brain to start working again – all of which change right before making a large purchase.  It also gives you time to think through things without the “heat of the moment” influencing that decision.

2) Talk to your spouse (or accountability partner).
If anyone can help you determine if you should follow through on the purchase, it’s your spouse, or someone else who knows your financial situation well.  Call them up or text them.  It’s a form of accountability for you, and you’ll hopefully receive a healthy outsider’s perspective on the situation.

3) Review your budget. 
Maybe you have the Mint.com app on your phone.  Or maybe you’re on the phone with your spouse.  Having stepped away from the sale rack, take a hot minute to see where your budget stands this month.  Have a mini-budget committee meeting with your spouse to talk about if it’s a good decision this month.  Taking a look at the budget helps us remember that the impulse purchases we make don’t happen in a vacuum – they affect the rest of our financial lives as well.

4) Answer this question: If I buy/do this, what will it prevent me from doing?
This is an easy way to measure the opportunity cost of a decision – what you’re going to miss out on if you follow this path.  Money is finite – you cannot do everything you want to do.  So identifying what you can’t do if you make this purchase will help you weigh if it’s really worth it.

5) Sleep on it.
Before making an unplanned purchase, just take a night and sleep on it.  Resting will give your mind clarity and improve your decision-making ability.  If it’s just as important to you the next day, and the budget checks out, then move forward.  Many times you will decide it’s not worth it.  Either way is ok.

With the Holiday season approaching fast, we’re going to be hit with possible deals like never before.  We have to know how to handle them when they pop up!

Question: What do you do when you’re tempted to buy something you know you can’t really afford?