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Want to Tame Bad Spending Habits? Try the 30-Day Rule
Want to Tame Bad Spending Habits? Try the 30-Day Rule
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Money Management

Want to Tame Bad Spending Habits? Try the 30-Day Rule

Eunniah Mbabazi
September 27, 2021

We have all felt a feeling of instant gratification after making a big purchase. This feeling may lead you to get more and more items. This can make controlling your spending a huge challenge when it comes to managing your finances. 

But all that can go awry and make you start racking up a lot of debt and as a result, you end up having a hectic time trying to save money and invest. There is, however, a solution that you can give a shot to break out of bad spending habits. It is called the 30-day rule.

With this plan, you will be able to control your spending, bring yourself back on track with both your savings and your budget.

Here is what you need to know.

What is the 30-Day Rule?

The 30-Day Rule is a strategy that works to help you cut down on impulse spending while at the same time, increasing your savings. It gives you enough space to rethink all the impulsive purchases you make and at the end of the day, helping you keep more of your money.

It is quite simple; if you find something that you think you want to buy, wait for 30 days before doing so. After that, if you still feel you want to make the purchase, then go ahead. If you realise you don’t really need it, or even forget about it, then you will have saved yourself that expense had you not delayed that impulse. 

Impulse purchases can deviate you from your budget and lead to a pile-up of debt. These purchases usually don’t fit into the overall financial plan you may have and may make you feel like you are losing the grip on the progress you have been making in savings.

This strategy helps a person to get their spending and savings in check because it prolongs the time you spend considering the purchase and puts more value on the money you have in your wallet.

A potential exchange of the hard-earned money gets a lot more thought so that you can stop feeling guilty over making purchases you will regret.

The Importance of this Rule

This strategy can change your attitude towards spending and saving. It can help you stick to your budget or even make significant progress on debt management. Most importantly, it can help control the urge to impulsively buy things.

How Does the 30-Day Rule Work?

This rule works by helping you resist the urge to feed the need for instant gratification - that is the temptation to sacrifice a future benefit for a less rewarding but more immediate benefit. 

Let’s be honest here, we have bought things that we have come to realize later that the money used on them was wasted. Worse even when the budget is tight. On most occasions, we cannot return the item to the shop so we have to live with the consequences.

The 30-day rule rewires your spending habits, putting your priorities into context. Changing a habit may not be instantly attainable but it requires an intentional change over time.

Following this 30-Day Rule helps your brain learn to swap the joy of shopping for the joy of gratification that’s been delayed; the feeling that you have really worked hard for the item.

When you stretch out the impulse you spend over 30 days, you will be able to prioritize the items that you’d want to buy. Instead of going all out on spending, this behavior facilitates careful consideration of the budget available.

The development of new financial habits could place an increased value on the purchases, making you appreciate them more and giving them more meaning.

How to Use the 30-Day Rule

  • Once you feel the urge to purchase something, be it a car or a new sofa set, stop yourself and walk away from the shop.
  • Note the item down alongside its price and the date. Your objective is to think about what impact the purchase would make before rushing to decide. This goes, especially, for the more expensive purchases.
  • This list should be kept where it is visible to you. Maybe you could place it on your work desk or your refrigerator. A place where you will see it as often as possible.
  • Take the next 30 days to think about whether you need this item. But still, do not make the purchase yet. This will help you think about your budget, the costs and the ROI (Return on investment) on that item.
  • After 30 days are done and you are done with the consideration process, then you can make a decision. If the merits are more than the demerits, go out and spend. If not, put the money in a savings account, an emergency fund account or invest the money.

Thirty days can be a very long time and so if a purchase is an immediate necessity, then this rule may not apply. The same applies to offers like discounts which have limited time frames - given that the item of interest has been budgeted for and the discounted price and product well aligns with your purchase intentions. 

Ways to Stick With the 30-Day Rule

Here are some ways to help you stick to the 30-day rule:

Set a goal and track your progress

Business people who set objectives and track their progress report attaining their goals most of the time, which is a better success rate than of business people who don’t track at all.

This is reflected in personal finance too. So checking in regularly to assess how well you are progressing towards a no-impulse-spending goal could be beneficial to the overall saving process.

Involve your friends or family

Everyone loves a challenge. Why not create some sort of competition against family and friends and see who can save the most in a specified period or spend the least? This way, everyone is held accountable and the 30-Day rule is turned into a fun game against impulse spending.

Remember that a purchase every once in a while is okay

One thing about this strategy is that it does not prevent shopping at all. Once the 30 days are over, there is no guilt if you still want to buy that item after all.

Give yourself time to adapt

We are all human. And sometimes we make mistakes. You might fail at your first attempt at the 30-Day challenge. And that is alright. This should act as a learning experience to help you make smarter buying decisions and stop impulse buying.

Changing a habit can be hard and may take some time. So cut yourself some slack.

Try different budgeting techniques

A plan that works perfectly for you may not work well for another person. Some may find budgeting using the envelope system effective for them. This is where money is put in envelopes described for different categories of spending. Some may go to different personal finance platforms like applications that track expenses, for example. The trick is to find a technique that you are comfortable with.


Taking control of impulse spending is a big step toward your financial success. The 30-Day Rule may seem too simple, but teaching your brain requires a bit of work.

Start small and build up slowly, and very soon you’ll be shopping while saving money with confidence. 

Start today!

Eunniah is an experienced business writer and editor. She is also a published author with two titles under her belt; Breaking Down and If My Bones Could Speak. You can find Eunniah on Twitter @Eunnyversal

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