How I handled my most recent impulse purchase

Jumper cablesPhoto courtesy of Charles Williams

Once every six months or so, I drain my car’s battery.

This isn’t an intentional thing, mind you. It’s just that I leave my car’s internal dome light on, and then go about my day, sometimes a few days, before coming back to the car and finding it totally dead.

(Let’s put aside the bizarre ability for two tiny incandescent lights to take out a car with a 60 pound hybrid battery in it. And let’s not even talk about how a car that can turn on and off an engine at will while in motion is unable to toggle a dome light that’s been on too long. The whole thing just hurts my head.)

I do have roadside service, though. So recently, when this happened yet again, I called for service, and sat out in my car while I waited for the guy to arrive.

When he did, he said, “hey, I recognize you, I think we did this before, didn’t we?

Great.

The solution

Now, fast forward from that mortifying point to a recent trip to Costco.

I don’t usually spend a lot at Costco, but I tend to go through all the aisles anyway, just because I often forget what I need to buy in the moment.

In the automotive aisle, though, I found something I hadn’t realized I needed: a portable battery jumpstarter.

Car jumpstarter

So tiny and cute.

A Prius can’t be charged from the 12V socket like many traditional cars can, so this came with a small jumper cable kit. But it was as small as a portable speaker, and could fit in my glove compartment, as opposed to the bulky car-battery sized jumpers I was used to.

Plus, it had a flashlight, and USB ports for charging devices. The whole thing was compact and tidy, and fulfilled a clear need for me.

It was a little pricey for me though, at $60. It’s not that I can’t afford $60, but it’s not something that I buy without a little expectation.

So, as I suggest, I decided to hold off on the purchase for a few days.

The wait

There are plenty of things I want in the $50-$200 range, but as time goes by, they fall off my radar, so clearly they aren’t super important to me.

But this car jumper was not one of those. This thing stayed on my mind pretty solidly.

It just seemed like such a practical purchase, one that would presumably last me a long time, had a variety of uses, and would keep me from having to call roadside assistance so much. I don’t like to make decisions based on “how much my time is worth“, but this clearly seemed like it could save me enough time over the years. Who wants to wait for roadside assistance when you could jump the car yourself?

So I decided to go back and purchase it. I made sure I had some money in my Transportation category the next month (though I guess I could have used my Fun category) and went for it.

The purchase?

Except, this being Costco, which prides itself on its treasure hunt-like shopping experience, it wasn’t there when I returned.

This of course, is the problem with foregoing impulse purchases: regret.

But come on, this is the Internet age. There’s almost nothing that you can’t buy after the fact.

And indeed, when I went back to Costco the next time, there it was.

So I dealt with my impulse purchase by waiting it out and seeing if I really wanted it, turning it, in effect, into not an impulse purchase. And now I won’t ever need to see that same guy to jump my car. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty exciting.

No more jumps for me!

Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey

I'm the founder and author of Unlikely Radical, a site to help people succeed with money, achieve their goals, and live intentionally.

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Mike Pumphrey
Posted on August 10, 2017