3 Signs You’re an Impulse Buyer — and How To Stop It
With all your frugal defenses up, impulse buying can still bring you down. Even the best of budgets are no match for the sudden purchases that happen without a second of consideration.
Impulse buying isn’t just about your habits, either. Retailers work to exploit our tendency to make unplanned purchases. What does this mean? You need to keep your guard up, especially if you show the warning signs of a repeat impulse shopper.
Look For the Warning Signs
Are you an impulse buyer? If you’re unsure, here are some warning signs:
You’re always making unexpected shopping trips and purchases.
If you find yourself taking shopping trips on a whim, you might be an impulse buyer. Perhaps you intend to stop at just one store, but ending up shopping the entire mall.
Maybe you feel bored, angry, or depressed and go out to buy stuff to entertain yourself and to feel better.
Or perhaps you decide you want something, so you hop online and buy it immediately.
Any of these actions mean that you’re not thinking over your spending but just buying things whenever you feel like it.
You’re constantly over-budget.
If you’re not paying attention to what you can afford to spend, you might be an impulse shopper. Rather than making well-planned and researched purchases, impulse buyers simply decide they want something and get it with little thought for how much they can afford to spend. It’s about getting the item now and worrying about paying for it later.
This can result in blowing your budgets out of the water for groceries, clothing, electronics, or others categories.
You have credit card debt.
If you’re constantly running a balance on your credit card, you might have an impulse buying problem.
Impulse buyers go out and shop whether they have money in their accounts or not. They might spend an entire paycheck before it’s even been earned but justify it by saying they’ll pay off their purchase with the coming payday. It’s not until later that they realize that they can’t afford to pay off their credit card balance, landing them in debt.
Curing an Impulse Buying Habit
Impulse buying isn’t incurable – you just need to set up systems to prevent it.
If you can make your purchases more conscious and intentional, you’re less likely to buy stuff when you don’t really intend to spend. Here are some ways of doing just that.
Create a Waiting Period
Don’t allow yourself to buy things without having some sort of a waiting period first. For example, if you decide you need a new pair of jeans, require yourself to wait a week before actually making that purchase.
Take this time to stop and ask yourself “What is my reason for buying this? Should I be buying this?” before making any purchases. Drawing attention to the situation forces us to act with our conscious minds rather than our emotions. You might realize that you don’t actually want to spend your money on jeans because you don’t really need them.
Avoid Emotional Purchases
You should never shop when the mood isn’t right. If you’re feeling sad, angry, lonely, or even happy, it can affect your shopping patterns and how much you spend. Some get a temporary high from shopping and spending money, but it might then wear off quickly.
Don’t be an emotional shopper! Find other outlets for dealing with your feelings instead of heading for the mall. Try exercise or talking with friends whenever you have the sudden urge to shop.
Be Careful with Online Shopping
Online shopping makes impulse buying extremely easy. In less than a minute, you can order just about anything and have it delivered to your house in just a couple days. Since we now have almost constant access to the Internet and some online retailers only require a single click to purchase, it’s easy to spend money online no matter where we are.
Avoid signing up for programs that offers free and fast shipping. Unsubscribe from promotional emails, too, since these will merely remind you to visit the retailer’s site and buy stuff. Avoid browsing online stores when you’re bored since it will increase the likelihood that you’ll spend money.
Let Go of Credit
If you can’t control your impulse spending and credit cards are your weapon of choice, stop using them altogether. You’ll be able to do just fine without credit. You can never go into debt when you’re only dealing in cash you have in the bank.
If you don’t want to be limited to just cash, debit cards are okay, too, since you can’t carry a balance. Just be careful since using debit cards are still a lot like spending with credit, potentially making it easier to go over-budget.
To avoid going crazy at the grocery store, keep a list and stick to it. You’ll save more money at the supermarket if you don’t make purchases on impulse but keep track of what you actually want to buy.
For anything else, write down what you want and wait until it goes on sale. You’ll either save money or won’t end up buying at all – it’s a win-win.
Allow Yourself to Spend Sometimes
Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting your budget at $0 on things that you know you’ll spend on. Expecting to spend nothing on the fun things you love to do and buy most isn’t a realistic goal.
Instead, set aside money to spend on whatever you’d like each month. If you let yourself have a fund to spend on anything you want, even impulse purchases can be allowed as long as you stay within your set limits.