You can stop impulse buying and save more by evaluating your needs vs. your wants, sticking to a financial plan, using shopping lists, and more. Impulse buying can negatively affect your finances and reduce your savings. In fact, the average person spends $314 every single month on impulse purchases.1
If you want to learn how to stop impulse buying and start saving money to pay for bills or other necessary expenses, these budget and money savings tips may help!
What Is an Impulse Purchase?
An impulse purchase, or impulse buy, is when you spend money on something spontaneously. An impulse buy can be anything, such as:
- A trendy pair of shoes that caught your eye at the mall
- The latest smartphone model, despite your current one working fine
- Books that have an attractive cover in the bookstore
- A new makeup palette launched by a popular brand
- Candy or magazines at the checkout line
Typically, a few impulse purchases here and there are fine and won’t affect your financial situation too much. But, make sure you keep track of your spending habits. When they are out of hand, impulse buying can negatively affect your finances and disrupt the long-term financial goals you may have.
How Do I Know If My Impulse Buying is Out of Hand?
For most impulsive shoppers, a bit of retail therapy every now and then is no big deal. But if you notice your debt start to accumulate or your credit score starts to dip, you should get your personal finances under control as soon as possible.
If you want to know if your spending habits are negatively affecting your financial health, look out for these warning signs and ask yourself the following self-reflection questions:
|Signs You Might Be an Impulse Shopper with a Spending Problem
|What to Look For
|Frequent Unplanned Purchases
|You often buy items that you didn’t plan to purchase when you entered the store or visited the website.
|“Do I often come home with items I didn’t intend to buy?”
|You buy things to feel good in the moment, seeking instant satisfaction.
|“Am I buying this because I need it, or because it makes me feel good right now?”
|You regularly feel regret or guilt after shopping, questioning whether you really needed the item.
|“How often do I regret my purchases after the fact?”
|Your spending leads to financial issues, such as depleted savings, increased debt, or inability to pay bills.
|“Is my shopping causing financial stress or debt?”
|You feel the need to hide your shopping habits or purchases from family or friends.
|“Do I feel embarrassed or the need to conceal my purchases from others?”
|Neglecting Financial Goals
|Your impulse shopping is getting in the way of meeting your financial goals or saving for important things.
|“Am I sacrificing my financial goals for the sake of shopping?”
|Emotional Trigger Response
|You tend to shop in response to emotions, whether you’re feeling down, stressed, or even overly excited.
|“Do I use shopping as a way to cope with my emotions?”
|Difficulty Passing Up Sales
|You find it hard to pass up a “good deal,” even if the item is not something you need or had planned to buy.
|“Do I buy things just because they’re on sale, regardless of whether I need them?”
|Lack of Usage
|You own items that you have never used or have only used once.
|“Do I have many items at home with tags still on or things I haven’t used?”
|Shopping feels like a compulsion rather than a choice, and you feel anxious if you don’t satisfy the urge to buy.
|“Do I feel anxious or compelled to shop even when I know I shouldn’t?”
Tips To Avoid Impulse Purchases
Try these helpful tips for avoiding debt and cutting back on impulse buying.
Evaluate Your Needs vs. Your Wants
The first step towards controlling impulse purchasing is to know the difference between your needs and your wants. Before buying something, wait and ask yourself, is this purchase necessary? Be honest. If the answer is no, then the item is something you want but don’t need.
For example, say you are at the grocery store, and a brand new kitchenware set catches your eye. You may think at the moment that purchasing the set is a smart decision; everybody needs tools for cooking. But put yourself through a waiting period. You may come to realize that the pots and pans you already have at home are doing just fine, and making a new purchase isn’t a necessity.
Make a Budget and Stick To It
Another great way to avoid impulse spending is to build a yearly budget plan. First, make a list of all of your necessary expenses. This should include expenses like housing, bills, food, and gas if you use your car regularly. Next, add all those expenses together, and compare the amount to your income. Any extra money is yours to budget as you see fit. Set money aside for savings, pay a little extra on a variable rate loan payment, or budget your cash towards making informed financial decisions.
Use Shopping Lists
Avoid impulsively spending money by having a shopping plan. Use the budget you created to help you listen whenever you need to shop. If you need to go to the grocery store, go through your kitchen and create a shopping list of the items you need. Or, if you need to shop for new house items or clothes, write down everything you plan on purchasing before you enter the store. Knowing exactly what you came to buy can help you stay on track and avoid buying items you don’t need.
To avoid temptation and impulse buys, try not mindlessly browsing the store. If you wander around shopping areas long enough, chances are you will find something you would like to buy. Instead, stick to your lists, and your budget like you are on a mission. You can even try to make it a game and see how quickly you can buy everything you planned on your list and leave the store!
Other Helpful Tips For Saving Money
Getting impulse buying under control is an important step towards becoming financially stable. But, thankfully, there are other ways to save money and organize your finances.
Check out these other helpful money management tips.
Eat at Home and Meal Prep
One way to save money and hone your spending habits is to plan your meals and eat at home. Getting takeout every night can get expensive. Try to cook at home more and eat your leftovers to practice discretionary spending. You may even find yourself eating healthier!
Get a Temporary Job or Higher Paying Salary
If you need to get yourself out of debt or just want to put some extra cash in your savings account, you could look for the best paying part-time jobs. You can find side hustles or apply for jobs that pay 100k without a degree so you can earn more money.
Shop In-Store Deals
Instead of shopping online, try shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Often, items listed for sale online shopping can come with inflated prices, shipping fees, and items may be more difficult to return if you decide you don’t want them. You might be able to find a good deal on an item in a brick-and-mortar store that would have been more expensive if you purchased it online!
Set Financial Goals
Make saving money fun by setting personal goals for yourself. When you set a goal and achieve it, you’ll not only save money but feel a sense of accomplishment as well. Goals like raising your credit score 100 points in 30 days can also help you improve your spending habits for long-term financial success!
Utilize Online or Mobile Banking
Regularly checking in on your bank account and purchases will help you become more familiar with your personal finances. These days, most banks and financial institutions offer online banking options, where you can log into your checking account on their website and look at your financial information. If you have an influx of incoming cash one month, you may be able to splurge on that expensive dinner with friends on a Friday night. Becoming familiar with your incoming and outgoing cash flow can help you make informed financial decisions regarding impulse buying.
Frequently Asked Questions About Impulse Shopping
Impulse buying is the act of purchasing items on the spur of the moment, without premeditation or a shopping list. It’s often driven by emotions or a reaction to stimuli such as sales or marketing tactics, rather than necessity or thoughtful consideration. Understanding this can help you recognize and resist these spontaneous urges to spend money.
You might be an impulsive shopper if you frequently make purchases that weren’t planned, especially if they’re motivated by feelings like excitement or stress. Reflect on your recent shopping trips: were many items not on your original list? Do you often feel regret after shopping? Answering ‘yes’ could indicate impulsive shopping habits.
To combat impulse spending, start by recognizing triggers, like emotions or environments that prompt unplanned purchases. Create a budget to guide your spending, and use lists for all shopping trips. Implement a waiting period for non-essential items to determine if they’re truly needed. Also, consider using cash instead of credit cards, as physically handing over money can make the cost feel more real.
Emotional spending is when you use shopping as a coping mechanism for emotions such as sadness, boredom, or even joy. This habit can lead to impulse buys because it links the temporary high of a new purchase with emotional relief. Recognizing this pattern is the first step to decoupling feelings from spending and finding healthier ways to address emotions.
A no spend challenge involves setting a period—like a weekend or a month—during which you commit to spending money only on essentials like bills and groceries. This challenge can help you become more conscious of your spending habits, identify areas where impulse shopping occurs, and develop discipline that can lead to long-term financial health.
Online shopping can be a hotbed for impulse buys due to its convenience and the plethora of options. To curb this, limit your exposure to online stores, use tools that block ads or e-commerce sites, and remove saved payment information to add friction to the checkout process. Also, set specific times for online shopping with a clear list and purpose to avoid browsing out of boredom.
Awareness of your spending habits is crucial. Track your expenses and review them regularly to spot patterns. You may notice that impulse buys occur during certain times of the day or in specific emotional states. With this insight, you can plan strategies to avoid these triggers, such as engaging in a different activity during those vulnerable times.
Impulsive purchases are made without prior intention and are often influenced by immediate gratification desires. In contrast, planned spending involves a decision-making process that considers the item’s utility, necessity, and impact on your budget. By focusing on planned spending, you can ensure that your purchases align with your financial goals and needs.
Yes, setting financial goals provides a tangible reason to save and spend wisely. Whether it’s saving for a vacation, an emergency fund, or retirement, having clear objectives can motivate you to think twice before making an impulse buy. It’s about prioritizing long-term satisfaction over short-term gratification.
Supporting a friend with challenging shopping habits can be delicate. Encourage open conversations about financial goals and the consequences of impulse spending. Offer to help them create a budget or join them in a no impulse buy challenge. Suggest alternative activities that don’t involve spending money, and be a positive role model with your own spending habits.
CreditNinja: A Final Note on How To Stop Impulse Buying
An impulse buy isn’t a problem unless you continuously spend so much money that you are drowning in debt. If you realize you have a problem, it’s time to start getting your finances under control! While this may seem daunting, rest easy knowing there are various resources available to help you better manage your income.
For tips on how to stop worrying about money and finding the best things to spend money on, check out the CreditNinja blog! We provide information on all types of financial topics. And if you ever need emergency financial assistance, go ahead and apply for one of our online loans!