10 tips to help you stop impulse shopping today.
Let’s talk impulse shopping. Truthfully?? This is something I have always struggled with. 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???) A few years ago I made a few changes to help stop this bad habit. Through time, and a lot of practice and fails, I have finally been able to control myself more at the store. If you can relate to this, well you’re in luck! Because today I am going to share a few tips to help you learn how to stop impulse buying.
1. Admit you Have a Problem
The first step to quit this bad habit is to admit that you have a problem. Many impulse shoppers try to rationalize their impulse buys. These phrases sound a little 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.”
The truth is that these phrases are only excuses. We make up excuses to hep ourselves feel better when we know we messed up!
The next time you buy something on impulse, admit to yourself what you did. Don’t make up an excuse or explain the buy away. Impulse shopping doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you normal….but that doesn’t mean it’s what is best financially.
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 might have an impulse shopping problem, it’s time to decide what your spending triggers are.
Is there a certain store that you leave buying more than you should have (this would be Target for me!). Or maybe when you are feeling stressed you spend more than you want to. Pay close attention to your spending habits and make a list of a few of the triggers that tempt you to shop.
- Related: Overspending Triggers and Solutions
3. Find Alternatives To Shopping
The third step to curing impulse shopping is to find alternative activities to help keep you away from your spending triggers.
If shopping at Target tempts you to overspend, shop at Walmart instead (this is what I had to do!!)
If you shop when you are feeling upset, find a different activity to help you work through those emotions.
If you follow a really cute, sweet blogger on Instagram, but her posts about darling clothes on sale make you want to spend money….unfollow her!
Do whatever it takes to find something to keep you away from your personal triggers.
4. Leave the Cards at Home
Ditch your credit and debit cards and instead shop using cash. This is the best way to make sure you don’t overspend.
Decide how much money you want to spend at the store, put that much money in an envelope and leave EVERYTHING else at home.
You will need to pay close attention to everything you put into your cart, because you literally can’t afford to buy anything that costs more than the cash in your wallet.
5. Make a List
Never go to the store without a premade list in your hand. Commit to buying what is on that list, and NOTHING else (even if you pass by the cutest shirt….and it’s on a huge discount….just keep on walking!). This has saved me so many times! For some reason if it’s written down, I am much better at sticking to my goals.
6. 48 Hour Rule
Give the 48 hour rule a try the next time you want to impulse buy. It’s super easy!
Just 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. Most of the time when I wait 48 hours, I tend to change my mind and realize that I didn’t need the item after all (funny how that works huh!).
The 48 hour rule also gives you time to shop around, and see if you can find a similar item at a cheaper price.
When you wait to make a purchase you are giving yourself time to separate emotions from logic, or want vs. need. This is so important when learning how to stop impulse buying.
7. Give Yourself Splurge Money
Be sure to include “splurge money” in your budget. Splurge money is money for you to spend however you WANT! (yay! I love splurge money!)
Your splurge money will give you that sweet little taste of freedom in spending. This can help curb a lot of your spending temptations.
The amount you budget for splurge money will be different for everyone. If you have a very tight budget, your splurge money should be a smaller amount. If your budget has some wiggle room perhaps you could give yourself more money. As always, do what’s best for YOU!
8. Walk Around With Your Shopping Cart
This suggestion might seem a little silly, but it works for me!
Whenever I get tempted to impulse buy something not on my list, I grab it anyway and put it in my cart. I don’t head right to checkout, but instead browse around the store for a while.
After 20 minutes or so, when it’s time to leave, I look at my cart and the items I stashed in there 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?”
Because I gave myself that time to walk around with it in my cart, my voice of reason come back and I usually decide to put the items back where they belong. Try it!
9. Use a Spending Buddy
Find a friend who has similar financial goals as you and use each other as someone to talk to when tempted to impulse buy.
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 the 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! We are all going to make mistakes, change is HARD…..and perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!
Remember to forgive yourself when you overspend and impulse buy. Use these mistakes as an example to learn from. Make a plan about how you will be do better next time, and then MOVE ON.
If you are struggling with overspending and trying to figure out how to stop impulse buying, try out a few of these tips. The most important thing is to remember to keep working at it. You won’t cure your shopping problems over night, but through time, patience and effort you can form new habits.
When I get the bug to impulse shop and I used to get it often, too often, way too often, I tell myself I have to get 5 things done around the place that I have been avoiding. Or I have to finish something I started that needs attention. As in , “You have already spent money on this, so go and finish it.” When the project is finished it is new and an accomplishment, same joy I’m telling you!
I love that! Thank you for sharing! What a great way to give yourself that time to let the emotion of wanting to buy pass.
I really needed to read this! I’m such an impulse shopper, in store and online. I always regret it!! Sticking to my shopping list is KEY, and I try to not even walk into a store just to waste time.
Sweet Frugal Life says
Yes! A list is key!!
Impulse spending is a coping mechanism for my PTSD and BPD. What I now do is keep the tags and the receipts and once the feeling passes I return everything. Helps with my instant gratification then by returning it doesn’t give me buyers remorse.
Sweet Frugal Life says
What a great tip! Thank you for sharing!!