Why You Need A Shopping Budget

by The Smarter Wallet on February 9, 2011

We’re all capable of blowing money from time to time. Some of us are more able to do it than others. We run the whole spectrum from being able to drop thousands of dollars without batting an eyelid to finding it incredibly hard to even spend ten dollars on ourselves. It’s no wonder we make up a pretty amazing and quirky society.

But let’s get personal here for a moment. How much could YOU blow in one hit if you were in the right (or wrong) situation?

Do You Overspend? Some Risk Factors

Here are some factors that could influence the way you react and how much you spend.

Risk factors to be aware of:

  • It’s sale time and you are surrounded by bargains wherever you look.
  • You’ve just been paid.
  • You’ve received a bonus.
  • A new spending month has just started on your cash back credit card.
  • You’ve entered a shop that is your absolute favorite in the mall.
  • You’re surrounded by gadgets, books, magazines –- whatever your own personal weakness happens to be.


Whew –- there are some real temptations in there, aren’t there? Personally, I am always tempted by books, although I’d be hard pushed to drop a lot of money in one hit on them. I know someone who discovered they loved the books written by a particular author and went out and bought the whole lot in one hit. The trouble was that they were on vacation at the time and they had to buy a new suitcase in order to take them all home!

Of course, you may already have gone on some kind of spending spree in the past and therefore will have a pretty good idea of how much you are capable of spending in one hit. But if you’re not, then ask yourself this: which of these figures would you feel comfortable with spending in one day?

  • $10
  • $50
  • $100
  • $1,000
  • More?

Most people will be able to find where their comfort level ends on this scale. If you’re seriously loaded with cash then maybe you’ll fall into the “more” category. But most people will know whether a hundred or a thousand dollars is about the mark for them.

And by knowing your spending patterns, you can determine what kind of shopping budget you should set.

Why You Need A Shopping Budget

It actually helps to know how much you would feel comfortable spending, because it can help you avoid financial trouble down the road. For instance, you could find your comfort level is out of line with your ability level.

Basically we’re talking about how much you could afford to spend, not how much you’d be able to spend. Anyone can blow $2,000 on a 0% APR credit card but it doesn’t mean you’d be able to pay it all back without blinking.

If you need financial management software to help set up your budget, then try out YNAB (also known as “You Need A Budget”). Check out our YNAB review here.

If you can figure out roughly how much you could actually AFFORD to blow in one hit if the mood ever took you, you’d at least know where your limits are. Shopping is certainly fun, but once you realize you have to pay it back or account for your spending, things can get tough.

So you can see that it almost doesn’t matter how much you could blow in one hit. What matters is whether or not your shopping budget and bank balance could allow you to do it!

If you enjoyed this post, you can get free regular updates through our RSS Feed, or you can have our latest posts delivered to your email inbox by supplying your address here. Your address will only be used for this purpose, and you can unsubscribe anytime.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment