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Curb those impulse buys

Sep 19 2012 16:31

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Cape Town - Do you ever buy something on impulse? Here's some good advice: don't!

It's a sad fact that most of us at some stage succumb to impulse buys without giving a second thought to the financial consequences.

The bad news, says Henry van Deventer, head of business development at acsis, is that this type of thoughtlessness can seriously affect your financial health.

Van Deventer points to a recent Pharma Dynamics survey which showed that a new epidemic is sweeping South Africa: fear of missing out (Fomo). 

"The rise in fear of missing out on something more interesting or exciting than what an individual is currently doing, highlights how many consumers are actively guilty of impulsiveness.” 

Among survey respondents, 62% said that they live in constant fear of missing out and 53% admitted to saying "yes" when they would rather say "no" because of their fear of missing out on something.

According to Van Deventer, not only does Fomo weaken the immune system as the survey reported, but it also has a negative effect on consumers’ financial well-being.

“Unintended spending can greatly affect your finances as ‘last minute’ arrangements or purchases aren’t originally planned or budgeted for.”

He adds that credit and store accounts aid Fomo and impulsive purchases and actions. “It is easy to outspend your means and blow a budget in today’s society, with credit cards and unsecure loans readily available.

"Access to additional funds tempts consumers to purchase items and take part in costly activities, such as travel and socialising, while only having to worry about repayments at a later date.”

This type of mindset can fast lead to mounting financial problems.

Unintended charges on your credit card with no plan in place to pay off the purchase, warns Van Deventer, can only intensify any financial difficulties you may find yourself in.

He refers to the latest TransUnion consumer credit index which showed a drop in loan repayments, and how South Africans are increasingly revolving credit each month.

The index slipped to 48.6 index points in the third quarter of 2012 from 51.2 index points in the second quarter.

“The interest charged for credit card overdrafts is extremely high and if an overdraft isn’t paid off within the first money after the purchase, the interest will quickly start escalating. 

"Soon consumers end up paying more than twice the original purchase price for the items purchased.

“This compounding negative interest can quickly lead to a slippery slope into debt. Instead of running a credit card bill into an overdraft, place the money that would have been spent on credit into a savings vehicle and reap the benefits of positive compound interest.”

Planning in advance can help you avoid the pitfall of credit cards, says Van Deventer. “Most consumers are likely at some stage to suffer from Fomo, which can result in additional expenses.

"But the consequences of giving in to this can be avoided by paying all monthly expenses and outstanding bills at the beginning of the month.

"This will then give a clear indication of how much money is remaining to spend on luxuries and those last minute arrangements that you can’t miss out on.”

But don't just spend all the money you have left over simply because it's there, stresses Van Deventer.

“Before spending an entire pay cheque, always remember to allocate funds appropriately into the correct savings in order to ensure financial wellness,” he says.

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