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How to Stop Impulse Shopping

Jan 15, 2020

How to Stop Impulse ShoppingNow that we’re in the New Year and setting resolutions (both financial and general), one thing that should be on everyone’s list is to kick the financially dangerous habit of impulse shopping. Even if the items you’re purchasing are relatively cheap, ultimately, the costs will add up over time. Since impulse shopping is easier than ever with targeted online advertising and seemingly constant sales, we’ve listed some tips below that can help you stay on track to better manage your money.

Make a budget and keep it handy.

Start the year off right by making a detailed budget and be sure to keep it handy in the Notes app on your phone so you can quickly reference it when shopping in a store. Then, you can see if you have any wiggle room in your budget for that month. Seeing how much spending money you have for the month can help you gain some perspective into whether or not the product you’re considering in that moment is worth it.

If you’re a habitual impulse shopper and you’re not ready to give it up cold turkey just yet, consider allocating any amount of money you feel comfortable with for unexpected spending. This way, you can treat yourself to an impulse buy or two – only it won’t be a true impulse buy, as you’ve already factored it in to your budget!

Make a shopping plan – and stick to it.

If you know you need to go to the mall to make a handful of purchases, make a list of the stores you’re going to, what items you need, and how much each costs along with the estimated total. This way, you’ll see the lump sum of what you need to pay that day, and it’ll be at least a bit more difficult to justify any impulses you may have during your shopping trip.

You should also consider only bringing the amount of cash that you think you’ll need and leaving your cards at home so you don’t end up spending any extra money.

Try the 30-day rule.

The 30-day rule is a great way to determine if you really need something before you purchase it. All you have to do is write down the item that you want to purchase—along with the price and store—and put the note somewhere you will see it every day, like the refrigerator, your medicine cabinet, or your nightstand. Over the course of the next 30 days, take some time to really think about whether or not the item is something that you need, or if it is an impulse buy that you can live without.

Giving yourself this amount of time to weigh the pros and cons of the purchase can save you from feeling any regret or guilt if you do choose to purchase it, since you can be confident knowing you weighed your options appropriately.

Wait 24 hours to make a purchase.

If the 30-day rule is too long for you, take at least a night or two to sleep on the item you were considering purchasing. Although you won’t be putting as muchthought into it as you would with the 30-day rule, you’ll still be assessing the product and the value it could bring you with a fresh perspective.

You should be sure to be extra critical when looking at the product the next day, or even consider asking a loved one for their honest opinion of whether or not they think the item is worth the money to get a different view.

Only subscribe to your core stores’ email marketing lists.

No one likes to be spammed with a million emails from every store they’ve ever made a purchase from, and getting too many discounts sent directly to your inbox can actually encourage you to visit a company’s site or store and purchase things that you don’t actually need, just because they’re on sale. Yes, email sales and discounts can be great—especially around the holidays—but as we move out of the holiday season, be sure to unsubscribe from all email marketing lists except for the core stores that you shop at routinely, as these sales will be very helpful in saving money.

You should maintain your email subscription to stores where you purchase everyday items and clothing to help ensure you make practical and financially responsible decisions.

Don’t fall victim to online/Instagram advertisements!

Advertisements on social media are often disguised to look like real posts in order to catch your eye and trick you into clicking on the store’s website. Next thing you know, you’re considering purchasing an item that you didn’t need or that you didn’t even know existed.

These advertisements can be spot-on; they’re tailored to your browsing history and your perceived interests, so if you do see an advertisement for something that you want to purchase, screenshot the name of the item, the price, and the store’s information, then browse the internet for dupes before committing to that specific product. If after at least one week you can’t find a cheaper version of the item, revisit the original product, consider the price, and decide if you still really want it.

Everyone loves shopping – especially when you’re shopping discounted items or something grabs your eye on your way to the checkout. But it’s important that you remain focused on your financial goals so that when it’s time to get a new car, a home with more space, or something unexpected comes up, you’ll feel confident in the money you’ve saved up.

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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