Let’s talk impulse shopping.
Truthfully?? I have always struggled with impulse shopping and I am constantly trying to stop.
Do I budget? YEP! Do I love to save money and watch my bank account grow? ABSOLUTELY! Yet, I STILL impulse shop! (you win some and lose some right???)
Fortunately, I have learned many lessons through the years and my impulse shopping has decreased (I still have a ways to go however!).
1. Admit you Have a Problem
The first step to curing impulse shopping is to admit you have a problem. It’s normal to want to rationalize your purchases. You might be using phrases like, “Oh, but it was on sale, so it was a smart buy,” or “It was something that we really needed anyway, so it wasn’t really an impulse buy.”
These phrases are only excuses. Excuses are made to make ourselves feel better when we know we have messed up!
You must admit you have a problem, before you will ever be able to change.
2. Recognize your Triggers
Now that you’ve admitted you have a problem, it’s time to pin point your spending triggers.
Is their a certain store that you leave buying more than you should have. (Target is my biggest trigger when it comes to impulse shopping.)
Does the impulse to spend come after a highly emotional day?
Read my article, Overspending Triggers and Solutions, for more trigger ideas and solutions.
3. Find Alternatives
The third step to curing impulse shopping is to find alternative activities to keep you away from your triggers.
The past 2 years I have tried to just stay away from Target. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to leave the store without impulse spending.
I’ve learned to shop at other stores and avoid Target. I still go in occasionally, but every time I do I regret it.
If you have a store that is your trigger, find an alternative store. If you shop when you are sad, upset, bored, etc. find a different activity to help get you through those emotions. If you follow a really cute blogger on Instagram who posts links to her darling clothes and you always seem to swipe up…..unfollow her!
Do whatever it takes to find something to keep you away from your personal triggers.
4. Leave the Cards at Home
If you go to the store without any credit or debit cards and only cash in your wallet you will find yourself MUCH more diligent at sticking to your list and budget. You will have to pay close attention to everything you put in your cart, because you only have X amount of money to spend….literally.
If you are new to spending with cash you can read more about my Cash Envelope System Here.
5. Make a List
Always make a list BEFORE you head into a store. You just might be surprised by how much less you spend when you shop with that list in hand. I don’t care if you are only planning on buying one thing, write it down!
Shop with that list in your hand and commit to only buying the items you have written down….even if you see something on sale….even if you walk past the cutest shirt you have ever seen.
If it’s not on your list than do not buy it.
6. 48 Hour Rule
Time is your friend when it comes to spending. Set a dollar amount (mine is $50) and commit to waiting at least 48 hours before buying anything above that amount.
This will give you time to make sure you REALLY want this item. Occasionally I convince myself that I HAVE to buy something “right this second,” but when I wait 48 hours, I tend to change my mind and realize that I don’t need it after all. (funny how that works huh!)
The 48 hour rule will also gives you time to shop around, and see if you can find a similar item at a cheaper price. When we wait to make a purchase we are giving ourselves time to separate emotions from logic, or want vs. need.
7. Splurge Money
Be sure to include “splurge money” in your budget. Splurge money is for you to spend however you WANT! (yay! I love splurge money!)
Your splurge money will give you that sweet little taste of freedom. If you don’t allow yourself a small amount of freedom, your urges to spend will come much more frequently.
The amount you budget for splurge money will be different for everyone. If you have a very tight budget, your splurge money might be small. If your budget has some wiggle room perhaps you could budget yourself a little more. Do what’s best for YOU!
8. Shopping Cart
A few of you might roll your eyes at this suggestion. And that’s ok! It might not work for you, but this is something I have been doing more and more lately and it has really been helping me.
Occasionally, when I am out shopping and see an item that I really really want (but it’s not on my list), I will just grab it anyways and put it in my cart. I allow myself to walk around with it in my shopping cart while I do the rest of my shopping.
When it comes time to check out I look at the things I impulsively threw into my cart and ask myself, “should I really buy this? Do I have money in my budget for this item? Is it something I need? Could I wait and budget for it later and come back and buy it?”
After giving myself time to walk around with it in my cart, the voice of reason comes back. Most of the time I listen to the voice of reason and put the items back where they go.
9. Use a Spending Buddy
Find a friend who has similar financial goals as you. Use each other as someone to talk to when you are getting the urge to impulse shop.
A few years ago I had a good friend who agreed to be my spending buddy. Whenever I would find that one item I thought that I just HAD to have, I would call my friend. I explained to her what I wanted and she would ask me those important questions about if I really needed it, could I find something cheaper, etc. And, I would do the same for her in return.
My spending buddy was so great at helping me spend less. And because I KNEW I would need to call her before I bought anything….it made me second guess my impulses, I only wanted to call her for important things!
10. Forgive Yourself
This is one of my very most important tips!
Remember that we all make mistakes. Change is HARD…..and perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!
Forgive yourself when you mess up. Learn from your mistake. Make a plan to do better next time and then MOVE ON.