How to Stop Impulse Buying and Save More MoneySave on Bills
Money Done Right does not accept sponsorships to promote particular products or services. However, we may receive a commission if you purchase or sign up through links on this page. Here's more information about how we make money.
We’ve all done it. You notice an item in your favorite store and the excitement to own it takes the better of you. During this moment, all you are thinking is how the item will positively impact your life. The desire to associate yourself with the item is too much at this time. The truth is, you don’t need this item, and you never planned to buy it.
Impulse buying is a temptation that most people fall into. You may try really hard but resisting the urge is quite complex. When you give in to impulse buying, you’ll negatively affect your short term financial goals. You may also never achieve your long term financial goals.
Good to Know: To know how to stop impulse buying and save more money, we need to understand the trigger points. What makes you make that unplanned purchase? There are different types of impulse buying and to help you understand better, here is a brief outline
Types of Impulse Buying
This is when you remember you needed something when doing your shopping. For instance, you can buy batteries when checking out just because you saw them and remembered you need them.
This is when you make a decision based on what a salesperson says. When buying a pair of jeans, a salesperson may suggest you buy a pair of shoes to complete the look.
When you do this, you’ll end up spending more than you had planned and this will ruin your budget.
With this type of impulse buying, you’ll see an item and feel a deep urge to buy it. For instance, while waiting for your turn to check out, you decide to buy chewing gums.
As a means of justifying your action, you claim that you need to keep your breath fresh and this will really help.
You walk into a store to buy some washing powder and in the process, you notice that the bar soaps are selling at a 50% discount. You end up buying 5 bars of soap which you had no plans of buying.
You will rationalize your impulse buying by things like:
- It’s such a good deal
- I’ll need the item in the future
- It’s just a few bucks
- Well, I can pay for it
- This is a lifetime chance
If you still want to go on a shopping spree every now and then, you will need some extra cash. Do you know there are 100+ ways you can make extra money? Check this out here
If an item had been out of stock and you are finally able to get it, you may be tempted to buy more. You may also find an item on sale and because you fear that the offer will run out, you buy more at once. Whatever the type of impulse buying, it does not change the fact that you never planned for it. You need to learn how to stop impulse buying and save more money.
Impulse Buying Triggers
Based on the current statistics, here are the main impulse buying influencers:
Love For New Things
It is exciting to own a new item and you can’t wait to show it off to your friends. How good it will feel to win the admiration of your friends! It’s like an addiction and every time you walk into a shop, you keep searching for something to buy. You don’t even care if you will use it or not, as long as you own it.
The Need To Fit In
You walk into a store and all your friends are buying something and you want to look like them. In the end, you own an item you don’t really need and may even never use it.
You walk into a store and the attractive display strikes you hard. The urge to get closer, to touch the items it too strong and then, you buy the item. Store owners will go to any length to make their display beautiful. As you bask in the beauty, you’ll end up buying items you never planned for.
You know that feeling when you have money? All you want is to spend it, to buy something new. As you walk by, you are looking out for what to spend the money in your pocket on.
What other better way to pass time than going out for shopping. you walk into a store and as you walk along, you see an item and buy it. In short, the more free time you have, the higher the chances of impulse buying.
Discounts And Special Offers
Seeing the word ‘SALE’ on an item is enough impulse buying trigger! You want to take advantage of the offer though you had no plans to buy the item. ‘Buy one get one free’ is a temptation that most people will fall into. You feel that by buying the item, you are getting a great deal.
If everyone in your inner circle is buying a certain item, you may also be tempted to buy it. This will be in an effort to maintain the status quo. In short, you don’t want to lag behind by those in your social class.
If you are a chain smoker, a beautiful cigarette display will push you to make an impulse purchase.
The Effects of Impulse Buying
When making an impulse purchase, you may not think in the long-term effects they’ll have on your finances. As a matter of fact, the high feeling you get after an impulse purchase is temporal. The remorse you will feel after the ‘high’ moments is what lasts.
Here is a brief outline of the effects of impulse buying
- Remorse: once you spend the money you had set aside for saving, you regret afterward. The joy of your decision will be short-lived.
- Delay in achieving your financial goals
- You’ll end up buying items you may never use
- If it was a ‘sale’ item, the quality may not be as good
- Some decisions will be embarrassing. For instance, you buy a refrigerator, and your house is too small to accommodate it.
- You will end up with too much clutter.
- Conflict with your loved ones
- Inability to pay your bills due to unplanned spending
- Addiction to destructive financial habits
- Unhappiness after the brief moment of excitement
Now to the main issue; how to stop impulse buying and save more money…
How Can You Stop Impulse Buying and Saver More Money
Create A Shopping List
Before you go out for shopping, list down what you’ll be buying. When you walk into the store, go directly to the places you’ll find the items on your list. This way, you will not be tempted to buy other items displayed in the shop.
Get Rid Of Your Credit Card
Shopping with a credit card is dangerous to say the list. You make an impulse purchase and plan to deal with it later. When the reality of what you’ve done hits you, it will be too late. You’ll have ruined your budget.
Follow The Waiting Period Rule
If you notice something and feel the urge to buy it, write it down. Note down where you saw it and the price, then stick the note somewhere. After about 30 days, if you feel that you still need the item, buy it. If your interest in the item is no longer there, leave it.
Do Not Idle Around Shopping Areas
If you get bored or are waiting for someone, shopping malls are not the best places to pass time. The truth is, as you pass time, you will get tempted to buy an item you never planned for. An item that you may never use ends up ruining your budget and goals.
Avoid Carrying Excess Cash
When writing down your shopping list, note down the estimated cost for the items. This way, you’ll know the amount you will carry for the shopping. When you budget for all the money you have with you, there will be no chance for impulse buying.
Do Not Shop When Intoxicated
If you are a man, you understand this too well. Someone comes to you with a very enticing offer. Since you are under the influence of alcohol and are not thinking straight, you buy the item.
It will shock you the following day when you realize you wasted your money on an item you don’t need. The item may not even be worth the amount you paid for it.
Research Before Making A Purchase
Before you make a huge purchase, conduct a thorough research. Note down the specifications of the product you wish to buy and compare different brands.
By doing this, you will buy an item that will meet your present and future needs. You will not have to struggle with the store’s management trying to exchange the item in the future.
Avoid Shopping When Emotional
When your emotions are high, the chances of buying an item as a ‘reward’ are very high. You think that by buying the item, you are doing yourself a favor. If you find yourself in this state, going out for shopping is not the best idea.
If you notice an item when your emotions are high, take some time before making the purchase. You can go home, sleep over it and if you still feel the urge to buy the item the following day, buy it.
Focus On Your Goals
When you have a goal, you will go to any length to make it come to pass. You know that any unnecessary spending will delay the realization of your dream. Some of the long-term goals can be:
- Buying a home of your dreams
- Owning your dream car
- Going for a holiday
- Saving money to start a business
- Getting a master’s degree
You can add to this list…
With this in mind, you’ll know that anything that will delay this goal is not worth buying.
Stop The Comparison
You can never succeed in life by trying to be like everyone else. By wanting to own what others have all the time, you’ll never get satisfied. The truth is, you’ll never win this game of comparison. It will drain you of every coin and still leave you wanting more.
Instead of trying to be like everyone else, appreciate what you have. It may shock you to discover that you have more than enough!
Avoid Shopping Alone
If every time you shop alone you end up buying items you never planned for, bring someone along. Any time you want to pick an item that’s not in your list, he will caution you. This way, you’ll avoid all temptations and stick to your plan.
Pro Tip: You can promise a reward to the company if he succeeds in making you stick to the shopping list. With this, you will stop impulse buying and save money.
Live Within Your Means
At times, you may be tempted to buy an item just to prove to people that you can afford it. The more they applaud you for the purchase, the bolder you get with your purchase. In the end, you will feel the pain of your action all alone.
Pro Tip: It could be that you took an overdraft or you are using a credit card for the unplanned purchases. Stay away from friends who will take you through that path.
Avoid Shopping For Fun
Shopping is by no means fun! Spending money on what you didn’t plan for is not funny. If you must have fun, go for window shopping and view the new trends in the market. Once you finish, go home and think through what you saw. You work too hard for your money and you shouldn’t spend it without proper planning.
Address The Reason Behind Your Impulse Buying
If you normally go out for impulse shopping due to some underlying reasons, address the issues. For instance, if it happens when you are sad, anxious or when your self-esteem is low, address these issues. Handle what causes these problems either on your own or seek professional help. This way, you will overcome the bad habit forever.
Consider The Amount Of Time You Took To Make The Money You Want To Spend
Think of the sleepless nights, the many hours in traffic, and the other pains you endured to make your money. Does spending the money on that purchase make you feel guilty? Don’t buy it!
Imagine spending an amount that took you one week to make on a bottle of champagne. Does this make you feel like a hero?
Look For Alternative Ways To Relieve Your Pains And Frustrations
When talking about how to make stop impulse buying and save more money, this is an important point. When you feel sad or at your lowest, watch a movie, go for a hike or read a book. Whatever else you can do except going for shopping, do it. You will feel a lot better with these activities and you will not suffer from guilt feelings later.
Talk To Your Significant Other Before An Unplanned Purchase
When out for shopping, do not make any rash decisions. If you come across an item you ‘think, you may need, ask your spouse if you are in marriage. He will help you to decide if you really need the items or you should forget about it. This way, you will not have conflicts in your family.
Do Not Use A Big Shopping Cart
When you go out for shopping, do not use the biggest shopping cart available. You will be tempted to look for items to fill the shopping cart and end up spending more.
Take a smaller cart that will be enough for the few items you came into the store to buy.
Do Not Consider Your Loyalty Cards
When seeking on how to stop impulse buying and save more money, store owners want you to spend more. This is why they’ll issue a credit card and ask you to buy up to a specific value to earn points. In doing this, you’ll end up buying items you don’t really need.
Though you will get the discount, you’ll end up spending more than you planned for. This will deeply hurt your financial goals.
Delete All The Payment Methods You’ve Saved On Online Shopping Platforms
When you buy on Amazon, eBay or Wal-Mart among others, you’ll be required to submit your payment details. If you plan to purchase in the future, all you’ll need is a few clicks and you’ll get the item. To avoid making unnecessary purchases, delete the details. This way you’ll have to go through a long process if you intend to make another purchase.
You will have enough time to decide if the purchase is worth the trouble. There are a thousand and one ways you can save yourself from the pain of impulse buying. From the unnecessary spending that will leave you financially and emotionally drained.
Do you have any other workable method you use to avoid impulse buying? We’d love to hear your suggestions, so please share with us in a comment below!
Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.