Most people like to shop. There’s always something new you want, clothes, the latest gadget, even that snack by the register that looks so good. You tell yourself you’re just browsing, just considering it, but soon enough, you’re serious, and you’re buying it. Some days it’s hard to avoid getting that impulse purchase, even when you’re trying to save money.
There are a few simple ways to cut down on impulse shopping.
Come Back Later
Telling yourself you can come back later can be a huge help for controlling impulse shopping. It’s not like the impulse to buy is always wrong. It is sometimes, and that’s where deciding to take more time to think helps.
With most purchases, coming back later isn’t that big of a deal. Most things you want will still be there in an hour or a day, or whenever you get back to it. If you really need or want the item, and it’s a reasonable purchase for your budget, getting it a little later is not a problem.
The idea here is to cut out the impulse part of impulse shopping. Give yourself time to think, and you will know in a while if your reaction was to seeing an interesting item or if it’s something you need.
Depending on where you are and what the item is, you might walk away for a short time or several days. It depends in part on how easy the item will be to get later.
When my husband and I were at the fair, for example, he came across a garage door storage rack. It’s a pretty neat idea – you can put your shovel and other long-handled garden tools onto it, and the rack hangs on the garage door. The items stay put even if you open the garage door.
He didn’t buy it right away. We walked the rest of the shopping areas of the fair, did some more fun stuff, and on our way out he decided that he still wanted the organizer. He bought it.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am still waiting for him to use it. He has gotten as far as taking it out of the box. He hasn’t done any big organizing in the garage lately, but I’m letting that slide.
Possibly, this was a foolish purchase. If he never gets around to putting it up, then it was definitely a foolish purchase. But it was the only one, and I still have hope for it. There were other things we considered buying. I can’t even tell you what they were, because they’ve been forgotten. Interesting in the moment, but not beyond. Coming back later kept several other purchases away.
The thing to remember is that pretty much anything you see while out shopping will still be there later. Very few things are all that limited, and most really limited things you might buy on impulse aren’t things you need. The things you need are more likely to be there day after day, week after week.
Coming back to a potential purchase later works pretty well if you have a few options to consider. It’s time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the things you’re considering. You might find that an item that attracted you immediately doesn’t matter as much as one you notice with a little more thought.
What About Grocery Shopping?
Impulse purchases can be extra difficult to avoid when you’re grocery shopping. Not only do they put tempting items all around the store, they keep it up right to the cash register. Inexpensive candy and treats are there for a reason!
The first thing to do to avoid impulse shopping at the grocery store is not go shopping hungry. Go after you’ve had a meal or at least a snack. The hungrier you are, the more you’re likely to spend.
The second thing is have a list and stick to it. If you know what you need, the things you don’t need are less tempting.
There are two big reasons to control impulse shopping at the grocery store. The first is financial – it’s amazing how quickly impulse purchases there add up over time.
The second is that many grocery store impulse purchases really aren’t that healthy for you. Chips, soda, candy – they’re all tempting and shouldn’t be bought all that often. There are healthier snacks out there that are pretty good. If you can find the right ones, it’s easier to avoid the wrong ones.
When you’re shopping in person, stick to cash to control impulse shopping and save money. Bring no more than you’re willing to spend and can afford. You’ll think your purchases over more carefully when you know there’s no way to go over budget. Leave the credit and debit cards at home if possible, or at least refuse to use them.
Do A No-Spend Month
Try having a month where you only spend money on necessities, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, food, and gas for your vehicle. No buying clothes. No extra stuff. If something tempts you, make a note of it, but don’t buy it until you reach the end of your no-spend time.
Much of what tempted you won’t matter to you by the end of the month. That’s money saved.
Look At What You Already Own
When you want to buy something, take a look at the stuff you already own, especially if it’s similar.
When you want to buy a new pair of shoes, go over the shoes you own now. Do any of them really need replacement. Would these new shoes do something for you your current shoes won’t?
Do the same for other purchases you’re considering. If you already own something good enough, you don’t need to buy something new.
Just Don’t Look
The final way I’m going to discuss to avoid impulse shopping is the just not look. Don’t go places just to window shop too often. It’s too likely to turn into impulse buying.
This includes shopping malls and shopping online. I know quite well how dangerous Amazon can be. They’re very good at suggesting items you might find interesting. Bad enough when you’re there to buy something you need. No need to give them more chances when you don’t need anything.
Avoiding the places where you have trouble resisting impulse purchases is a good idea. Try keeping track of your impulse purchases. How many were actually good purchases? How many weren’t? Which ones would you have still bought if you had taken a little longer to think about it? You can learn a lot about your impulse purchases and shopping habits if you stop and review.
What works for you to avoid making too many impulse purchases?