Splurge-stopping app may keep you from making impulse buys

Who, honestly, doesn't splurge sometimes? Perhaps even a few times during a week?

A friend of mine dubbed these impromptu expenses the $100-pick-me-ups. You know, you work hard to juggle duties and deadlines. And then, you figure, "Hey, I deserve this really great fill-in-the-blank."

It all costs some money -- even if you really deserve it.

But what if somebody could stop you or at least ping you and say, "Hey, do you really want to buy that now?" Well, Ally Financial is putting that idea to the test with the beta release of a new app called Splurge Alert.

It works like this: You identify trouble spots like the stores and restaurants where you know you burn cash or pull out plastic a little too much. The app uses geolocation technology to alert you that you're approaching a "splurge zone." Even more important, a friend or family member gets a push notification when you walk into that DSW or Starbucks or Lowe's.

Yes, you pick a "buddy," someone who might be able to talk you out of spending more money.

"It helps you because it makes you stop and think," said Andrea Riley, chief marking officer for Ally Financial in Detroit.

About 85 percent of Americans admit to splurging, according to a survey commissioned by Ally and conducted online by Harris Poll.

And splurging can be problematic.

"It's time to turn around and walk away from spending that money," Riley said.

Susan Tompor, the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press, can be reached at