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4 Impulse Purchases You Actually Won’t Regret

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Impulse purchases are rarely applauded when it comes to personal finance. In fact, there’s sometimes an article circulating that admonishes millennials from going out to eat instead of buying houses. There are a lot of things preventing us from buying houses—and certainly, brunch spending could be one—but I think it extends far beyond the impulse purchase. And in general, I think we could stand to ease up a little on the impulse purchase, and remember that it’s only the enemy if we’re putting down a credit card constantly. Impulse in moderation, however, I don’t think is as much of a problem. Going a step farther, I would say that one of the perks of having a healthy savings account is that it allows you to be impulsive. Of course, you don’t want to dip into your savings too deeply and end up spending your down payment fund, but overall, if you have the funds to back it up, a little impulse never hurt anyone. Here are a few impulse purchases that actually pay off:

1. Spontaneous travel. A spontaneous trip doesn’t need to involve hopping on a plane and picking the destination farthest from the spot where you’re standing. It can also just be a weekend trip a couple hours away to get out of the surroundings you see every day. Whether you wake up in Belize, or you’re escaping 100 miles away by train, a spontaneous getaway (in my opinion) might bring you more joy than the few hundred dollars would sitting in your savings. Though of course, if that’s the only $300 in your account, then maybe this isn’t the right time for an impromptu getaway.

2. Gifts for special occasions. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a gift that I felt was unwarranted, or that I overextended myself for. However, I have missed giving a few gifts because I talked myself out of spending the money. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, people are getting engaged, married, or having children nearly everywhere you look. Of course, you can’t attend every friend’s wedding, nor can you get every single person a gift for every occasion. However, if you have a friend who’s really important to you, and something exciting happens in their life (it doesn’t have to be an engagement, it could be a promotion, etc.), impulsively sending champagne isn’t going to set your bank account back much. But it will bring happiness to everyone involved.

3. An impromptu meal out. In general, food-related impulse purchases aren’t the best. Splurging at the grocery store on ingredients you aren’t going to use, or succumbing to take out for the third night in a row isn’t easy on the bank account. However, a spontaneous meal out with friends is different. If a friend flies into town and insists you come meet her for a drink, you might regret saying no. Similarly, if coworkers you’d like to get to know better invite you out to lunch, saying yes is money well spent, even if it’s a bit impulsive.

4. Purchases you’ve been going back and forth on for too long. We seem to put things in two categories: Premeditated purchases, which are supposedly “good” and impulse purchases, which are “bad.” But here’s the thing: You can save up for a dress for a year and only wear it once—that happens more often than not. Premeditated purchases don’t always take utility into account. Sometimes the only way to make a purchase that you’ve been not-too-sure-of is to impulsively take the leap. And certainly, there will be times when you buy on impulse and it’s not worth it (we all have a skin cream sitting in our bathroom cabinet collecting dust). But sometimes, it’s significantly more valuable to buy something you need impulsively than to save your pennies for boots that end up giving you horrible blisters.