There are so many colorful, shiny, and fun items that are located right by the checkout just begging for you to pick them up and add them to your cart. Impulse shopping is a common occurrence, and it isn’t limited to only the front of the store. We are all guilty of picking up extra snacks when we go to the grocery store hungry, or adding a small toy to our cart because our child asks for it so nicely (or screams so loudly that we want them to stop embarrassing us.) Although impulse buys can even appear to be like a great deal if they are on sale, usually they are simply convenience items that make us momentarily happily, and that we later regret. Although spending a few extra dollars each week won’t necessarily destroy your budget, impulse shopping can easily get out of hand. Here are five ways you can stop impulse shopping.
1. Buy what you came for
Impulse shopping is just what it sounds like: an impulse. If you have a set budget, and you stick to it, you will be less likely to impulse shop. Sale items are a big draw for impulse shoppers, but often get you to spend more than you initially expected to because you think you are getting a good deal. Make a habit of knowing exactly how much you can afford, and what you plan to spend, before you enter a store. If you have $30 for a new sweater, but you go in to a store and see that pants are half off, you will be purchasing something on your impulse. A better idea if you really thrive on finding deals, is to know what you need, and stick to deals that are only related to that particular item.
2. Use Cash
If you can take cash out and stick to your list, you will have a good chance of avoiding impulse buyers. It’s easy to convince yourself that $5, $10, or even $20 extra is worth it if you get a good deal, but you will end up regretting many impulse purchases later. If you bring the exact cash for what you need and what you anticipate spending, you won’t have a handy card to pull out to cover the extra. If you don’t know exactly how much you will need to spend, do some research ahead of time. If you are purchasing a regular expense, like groceries, you should have a limit already if you are regularly budgeting, and if you are buying something you don’t usually purchase, you should still have a set limit.
3. Eat before you go
The grocery store is just as enticing and full of potential impulse buys as a clothing or department store, and sometimes more so. It’s best to always make sure you eat before you go grocery shopping, otherwise you may find that the candy bars and other impulse items draw you in and make you spend more money. Being full will help you to be more content and to fill your grocery cart with healthy options and the groceries you actually need. Try to choose a healthy snack to eat before you leave, like an apple with peanut butter or Greek yogurt and fruit.
The same is true for restaurants. If you are going to dinner, it doesn’t make sense to eat an entire meal before you go. However, restaurant service can be slow, and eating a little at home may stop you from ordering an appetizer or sweet drink to curb your hunger.
4. Be aware of your emotions
Shopping while upset is an easy way to overspend, and to impulse shop. If you are feeling sad or depressed, you might easily convince yourself that a beautiful dress or sharp blazer would make you look and feel better. If you are tired, an extra snack at the grocery store might seem like the perfect energy-boost. It’s also possible to impulse buy just because you are overwhelmed, so try to shop at less busy times of the day, when you can really search for the items you need.
Your mood can also be affected by shopping with your children (because they may be out of control, or you simply might want to purchase something to please them), or even friends who spend money frivolously. Don’t allow yourself to shop with your friends if being with them makes you feel like you need more clothes, gadgets, or groceries.
5. Consider other options
It’s almost impossible to walk through a store and not see something that you want, and it is really difficult to avert your eyes completely when walking by well-placed impulse buys (like dollar buckets or candy racks.) If you really have a hard time shopping without purchasing impulse items, consider rethinking the stores you visit. Although every store has ways of enticing you to spend money, you can make your shopping trip easier by limiting those options. Instead of a department store with many different departments, choose a store that specializes in what you need. If you are halfway through your week and you realize that you need a gallon of milk, consider going to a smaller store to get it, rather than walking through a large supermarket. Lastly, remember that many items can be purchased online.
There are many other ways to curb your impulse buying. One suggestion is to limit your time at the store so you don’t walk around looking for things to buy. Also, leave a little money in your budget for fun purchases; having a budget that is so tight that it leaves no room for wants is hard to stick to.