September 29, 2016

How to Avoid Impulse Buying

We get it—shopping is fun, it’s thrilling and you can get a bunch of cool stuff—however, when you arrive home post impulsive shopping spree depressed and feeling guilty for your purchases, that feeling completely negates the euphoria you experienced when piling items into your basket as if you were saving up for the apocalypse.

So before you end up with an empty wallet, piles of debt and headlining your own episode of Intervention for your out of control shopping addiction, be sure to check out the following ways that you can avoid impulse buying when your money is burning a hole in your pocket and that shiny new display at your favorite store is calling your name:

Make a list.  Maybe list-making isn’t your favorite hobby…but on the road to being a savvy shopper, it’s time to put ‘list making’ on the top of your list!  Whether you are just going to the grocery store to do the food shopping for your house or if you are going into the mall to pick up a birthday present, write down everything that you need.  Actually going into the store will be the real test—make sure that you stick to your list like you’ve never stuck to anything before.  A great trick for avoiding buying items that you “forgot to add to the list” is to skip the aisles that have nothing you need.

Keep shopping trips to a minimum.  To lower your risk for taking several mini-shopping trips and taking home an array of impulsive buys, make sure that you make set a shopping schedule that you can easily follow.  Try planning trips to the grocery store once a week or once every other week to buy your goods in bulk.  This can save you from the exposure of things you think you might need or want.

Dish out the cash.  In a controlled fashion, only on merchandise you need, of course.  What this means is it’s time to bid farewell to those plastic little cards of yours.  When you shop with a credit card and see something in the store that you think is essential to your happiness, you often find yourself running to the checkout counter with the “want it, need it, GOT to have it” philosophy—not good.  Credit cards are useful in case of emergencies but when used for other reasons (i.e. fulfilling your impulsive shopping needs), they have the ability to spiral you into a debilitating state of debt.  Paying in cash is a mental technique that will keep you in control of your spending as you tend to be more aware of the cash exiting your wallet.

Skip sales.  Sure you might find some good deals at a sale, but for a recovering impulse shopper, sales can be your worst enemy with the ammunition to derail all of the positive steps you’ve taken to change your impulsive ways…steer clear!  When you see low prices and markdowns, you may think that you are saving money so you end up buying a ton of worthless stuff that you didn’t need—just because of a sale sticker!  What really happens is you end up spending more money than you would have if you simply didn’t attend said sale.

Window shop no more.  Window shopping…sounds innocent enough, right?  WRONG!  Be honest with yourself—we all know that when we say we are just going to “look” the chance is high that we could leave the alleged “browsing” trip with twelve shopping bags and an empty bank account in tow.  Turning around your once-reckless spending habits can be tough…and when you window shop, the temptation to relapse can be overwhelming.  So that you don’t give in, avoid the temptation and such shopping excursions altogether.  Why put yourself through the misery of looking at things you can’t buy…or feeling the guilt after you’ve spent money you don’t have?

Cindy McDonald is a guest post author who enjoys writing about personal finance for the money-conscious consumer.  In addition, Cindy also owns Catholic Dating Sites where she educates Catholic singles on safe ways to date online.  

  • I spend so much more if I make little trips to the store…just to pick up a few things.  I always find other things that I “need”.  Best solution for me is to just stay at home and make one big trip to the store each week.  Great list of advice!