Impulse buying has been ingrained into our daily life. We shop when we’re bored, we shop when we’re sad and we shop just because there’s a sale. It’s no wonder that many times, we have no control over our spending and have trouble managing our money.
I’ve had many months where the spending got away from me, mainly because I chose to buy things that were not planned, just because I saw it and decided I wanted it.
My Impulse Spending was Out of Control
This is exactly what drove us to debt. The notion that we must have the item right now, there is no waiting, thinking, saving for it.
It’s the feeling that the item will fall off the face of the earth if we don’t buy it this instant. That’s kind of crazy when you think about it, but when we buy things on impulse, this is exactly the message we send to our brain.
But, in recent years, when I converted to frugality, this was one of the areas I was determined to conquer. I was going to have better control over my spending, because I knew that the more I controlled, the more I can pay off my debt.
Controlling My Impulse Spending Changed Everything
After becoming debt free in January 2018 and paying off a whopping $106,000 in less than 5 years, I can tell you that controlling my purchases was well worth it.
It was the driver that helped me save hundreds of dollars per month, and that quickly added up to thousands of dollars that we could put toward debt per year.
Here are some of the ways I was able to stop my impulse buying and I know that they can help you too:
1- Plan out for purchases
I know longer buy things willy nilly because I’ve made it a mission to remove impulse buying from my spending routine. If I want something bad enough, I start adding a sinking fund for it and save it until I can pay for it in cash. I promise, 99% of the items we want aren’t going to go anywhere if we don’t buy them right now. So, we can take our time and save the money and buy it at our own pace.
I tell my kids to save their money for things they want all the time. Shouldn’t I practice my own principles and stop my own impulse buying?
I sure think so.
2- Make a list of items you see at the store and keep for 30 days
This right here is magic. Because the truth is, impulse buying is a hard temptation to curb if you don’t have a plan in place to help you offset that urge to spend. I’m telling ya, this list helps me see what I really want rather than having buyer’s remorse. If the item stays on my list for 30 days and I still want it, then it’s time to start saving for it.
Chances are, if the item you want is that important, the appeal of it will last for at least 30 days. If it doesn’t, then you’ve saved money and space in your house from potential clutter.
How many items did you buy something on impulse that ended up being clutter? For me, it was a lot. In fact, I make it a point to de-clutter my home every quarter, and it helps remind me that I already have way too much stuff. It helps me curb my urge to spend on more “things”.
3- Write down your goals
Having your “why” front and center in your mind will help you have better self-control over anything, especially impulse buying. When you have something that has a lot of personal meaning tied to your financial goals, it’s so much easier to go with the plan, follow through, and reel yourself back in when all you want to do is make that impulse purchase.
To curb your impulse buying, you need to strengthen your will power, and being clear on the reason behind your goal is key.
Similarly, having your money goals in mind will help you stop impulse buying and will strengthen your will power.
So, write down your goals and refer back to them every time you feel the urge to buy something that was unplanned.
Think about how this purchase is stalling your progress. Think about how you could use that money to get you closer to your goal.
Having your “why” is incredibly important to staying focused and on track with your money and your spending.
4- Don’t Window Shop For Fun
This was one of the hardest things to stop doing. I loved taking my kids to the mall to window shop. Heck, online shopping made that process even easier.
But, if I’m being honest, window shopping almost always resulted in actual shopping. I would come home with at least one thing. The truth is, by window shopping I was putting myself in the middle of temptation. I was making it harder on myself to succeed.
It’s like the dieter who surrounds themselves with junk food and sweets. Chances are they’ll cave in easier with that food around. So, they say to get rid of temptation so you remain strong.
The same principle applies to window shopping. The less you window shop, the more likely you are to stop impulse buying.
5- Set time limit for shopping so you minimize browsing
If you have items you have to purchase in-store, choose a day and time when your schedule is busy. The busier you are, the better chance you’ll be in and out with only the items you need.
I do this often with grocery shopping. Going to the grocery store before picking up my daughter from school gives me limited time. I usually only have about 20 minutes to grab everything on my list and be in line.
This strategy helps me stick to my list since I don’t have any extra time to peruse the aisles for sales or treats that look good.
6- Functional Need vs. Want
A few years back, I was obsessed with makeup. I blame it on YouTube beauty gurus, haha. But seriously, my obsession got so bad, that I found myself with so much makeup that I was becoming a hoarder. I couldn’t even finish all that I had before it expired.
I realized that many of the makeup products I was repeatedly buying had no additional functionality. Buying another mascara when I already had one that I was using didn’t make sense anymore.
Buying yet another eye shadow palette when I had 6 fully functioning palettes made no sense anymore either.
So, I started looking at items for their functionality rather than my want for them. Sure, I want all the makeup palettes because they’re beautiful. But, do I need another one? Can I get buy with what I already own?
If the answer is yes, put back the item and walk away.
7- Is it something I can request for my Birthday or Christmas?
Making a list of the items you want throughout the year is a great way to get those items during the holidays like Mother’s Day, your birthday or Christmas. It still isn’t considered an impulse buy because you’ve planned it out and added it to your gift list.
This is a great way to help your loved ones get you what you want and you get to save money in the process.
It also gives you time to think about the item and determine if you really want it (like the 30-day list I mentioned earlier).
Impulse purchases don’t have to be a way of life.
Remember, unplanned purchases actually steal money away from your true goals. The more you buy things on impulse, the longer it takes you to reach your financial goals.