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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

9. Only shop with a clear head.

Be sure to notice when and why you make impulse purchases. Are you sad, stressed, tired, tipsy, or all the above?

You’ve probably heard the term “retail therapy.” But there are many better ways to ease stress that don’t involve spending money.

Even just being tired or hungry when you’re shopping can be dangerous. Instead of thinking about a purchase logically, you just load up the cart and buy. Consider putting off shopping until another day when you’re more rested and don’t have a grumbling stomach.

Spending to boost your mood might work in the moment, but really hurts you in the long run. It can lead to a vicious cycle where you’re upset or stressed and buy something impulsively, then you get stressed further because you bought something impulsively!

Shopping in the evening can be a particularly bad time to make decisions if you’re home alone, bored, or impaired after a few glasses of wine. So, remember never to shop when you’re restless or having a bad day. Instead, call a friend, go for a walk, or take a hot bubble bath to cheer yourself up.

Shopping in the evening can be a particularly bad time to make decisions if you’re home alone, bored, or impaired after a few glasses of wine.

10. Never shop for entertainment.

If hitting the mall or main street shopping is hurting your finances, change your idea of entertainment. When you put yourself in the center of shopping temptations, you’re probably going to buy something.

So, stay away from outlets or your favorite stores when you have time to kill and need to curb impulse buying. And don’t hang out with friends whose lives revolve around shopping when it just isn’t in your budget.

When you really need something, shopping solo can be a more mindful experience that keeps you in control and calm compared to the chaos of shopping with friends or kids.

11. Read the reviews.

The next time you’re tempted to buy something, read its product reviews, especially the low ones. Oftentimes bad reviews are exaggerated claims, but sometimes they show you the truth about the bad side of a product that may make you realize it’s not worth buying.

12. Minimize the damage.

When you find yourself in a situation where you’re about to give in to a buying impulse online, try putting the item in your cart, but then leave the site. In some cases, choosing the product may be enough to satisfy your urge to shop—even if you don’t go through with the purchase.

If you’re in a store and feel like you’re overcome with the desire to buy lots of stuff, consider taking one inexpensive item to the checkout and get out of the store with minimal financial damage. It’s not an ideal habit to follow, but stopping while you’re ahead may be a way to ease away from shopaholic tendencies.

13. Think about the last purchase you regret.

Before you pull the trigger on your next shopping impulse, think about the last time you made a buying decision that you regret. That may reveal a pattern in your behavior that you want to squelch.

Before you pull the trigger on your next shopping impulse, think about the last time you made a buying decision that you regret. That may reveal a pattern in your behavior that you want to squelch.

Decide that you won’t let yourself make another bad impulse purchase today that you’ll be sorry for in the future.

14. Remember your goals.

The idea behind curbing impulsive spending is so you can use that money to achieve your most cherished financial goals instead. So, write down your goals and keep them in strategical places you can’t avoid if you choose the wrong path.

For instance, you might use a black Sharpie pen to write your goal on your debit and credit cards. Put it on sticky notes or laminated cards for your refrigerator, desk at work, or bathroom mirror. Use it as a screen saver for your mobile devices and computers.

Creating visible triggers that prompt you to think about what you want to accomplish can be a powerful way to sidestep destructive financial behaviors. Any strategy you can use to keep your goals top-of-mind will help you focus on what’s most important and reinforce your commitments. Your goals will guide your behavior, but only if you remember them.

The best way to resist any impulse is to put time between the impulse and the action. So the more time you give yourself to settle down, remember your goals, and reconsider the purchase, the easier it becomes to resist.

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