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14 Tips to Stop Impulse Buying and Save Money

Instead of caving, use these 14 tips and tricks to resist bad spending habits so you can save more money.

By
Laura Adams, MBA,
Episode #528
14 Tips to Stop Impulse Buying and Save Money

No matter how frugal you are, no one is immune from making impulse purchases from time to time. But the more you give in, the more harmful it can be to your financial life.

Overspending is a common barrier to achieving key financial goals, such as saving 10% of your gross income for retirement or building a 3-month emergency cash cushion. Spending more than you can afford, or buying things you simply don’t need, can throw your financial stability off kilter.  

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Instead of caving to impulses, develop strategies that stand in the way between the compulsion to buy and buying. Use these 14 tips and tricks to resist bad spending habits so you can save more money.

14 Tips to Stop Impulse Buying and Save Money

  1. Shop with a list.
  2. Use a waiting period rule.
  3. Calculate the value in time.
  4. Don’t buy items that can’t be returned.
  5. Reevaluate what you already own.
  6. Plan your splurges.
  7. Give yourself a no-spending challenge.
  8. Unsubscribe from retail newsletters.
  9. Only shop with a clear head.
  10. Never shop for entertainment.
  11. Read the reviews.
  12. Minimize the damage.
  13. Think about your last purchase regret.
  14. Remember your goals.

Here’s more detail about each strategy to kill impulse buying.

1. Shop with a list.

Whether you’re shopping for groceries, holiday gifts, or clothes, have a list of what you really need to buy and challenge yourself to stick to it.

You’ll always find something you didn’t know you wanted, whether it’s Oreos or designer shoes on sale. Using a list as your shopping plan keeps you focused so you’re less likely to become distracted by anything that’s not on the list.

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself at least 24 hours to decide if buying something is a need, or just a random impulse purchase, by “sleeping on it.”

2. Use a waiting period rule.

Create a rule that before buying anything over a certain amount, such as $50 or $100, that you’ll give yourself time to think about it. It could range from an hour to a month, depending on your propensity to splurge. But the longer you can wait the better.

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself at least 24 hours to decide if buying something is a need, or just a random impulse purchase, by “sleeping on it.” That allows enough time for your impulse to settle down so you can approach the purchase with a clear mind if you really do need it.

If you’re shopping in a brick and mortar store and find something that you think you can’t live without, take a picture of it and its price. You can revisit the item after your waiting period has expired and even use the information to do comparison shopping online.

3. Calculate an item’s value in time.

Since a spending impulse is often emotional, engaging the logical part of your brain is a powerful way to stop it. One tactic is to think about how much time it would take you to earn what an item costs.

For example, if you earn $25 an hour after taxes, buying a $250 suit costs you 10 hours of work. Is it worth the equivalent of a long workday? Only you can decide. Being a more logical shopper can instantly change your mindset so you think more rationally and put the brakes on an impulse purchase.

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