Every now and then we all feel the urge to buy something on impulse, thus jeopardizing our family budget and putting our savings goals at risk. Impulse buying is a dangerous behavior that can hinder you from achieving financial independence, but with a little practice and self-discipline you can learn how to beat the urge. These simple strategies will help you to stop impulse buying, so that you can enjoy your hard-earned money on things that really matter to you.
1. Shop with a list
Before going shopping, take a moment to write down all the items you need, whether it's groceries, clothes, appliances, or books. Take the shopping list with you and try to focus only on the things you planned to purchase. Make it a habit to stick to that list and don't get distracted by sudden impulse urges. This will ensure that your purchases are intentional, deliberate and above all necessary.
2. Discipline yourself
If you enjoy shopping, then you should set some simple rules for you to follow whenever you feel the urge to buy something that's not on your list. Impulse buying is a dangerous habit that can get you into some serious financial troubles, especially when you don't track expenses regularly and end up spending more than you can actually afford. Don't buy something just because you happen to be in a mall and don't want to go home empty-handed.
3. Don't shop when you are upset
People have all sorts of addictions and cravings. Some are addicted to food, others get their daily dose of satisfaction from shopping. Don't go shopping when you are angered, upset or depressed, otherwise you risk losing a lot of money on little impulse buys that you think will make you feel better. The purchase may bring you some temporary relief and a short-lived illusion of satisfaction, yet it will not cure you of your sadness, stress or anger.
4. Go shopping alone
It's almost impossible to go out shopping with friends and not buy anything. You may be tempted or persuaded to buy things that you haven't intended to. Don't shop with people that are prone to impulse buying, they may influence your purchasing decisions and convince you to buy things you don't need or even want. It's better to go shopping alone or with someone who has frugal spending habits.
5. Limit access to your money
Leaving your credit card at home and carrying only the amount of money you will need in order to pay for the items on your list is a surefire method to curb impulse spending. Maybe it's just a mind trick, but when paying with cash you can actually “touch” and “see” the money you are spending (as opposed to debit or credit cards). This makes you more consciously aware of your personal finances, helps you make better spending choices and ultimately prevents impulse buying.
6. Keep your financial goals in mind
Shop with a clear mind and don't get swayed by special offers or amazing discounts. Keep your savings goals in mind at all times and try to imagine how the purchase you're about to make will affect your goals. Just think of it as another delay in reaching your short- or long-term financial goals and ask yourself what is more important to you. Whether you want to save for retirement or a new car, keeping that in mind helps you stay motivated and avoid impulse buying.
7. Follow the time rule
You can rein your impulse urges in by setting a rule that you can only buy something you want after a certain waiting period. Making yourself wait a day, a week or even a month will most often help you determine if you truly need that item. You may even realize that you don't want it any longer or that you can purchase it somewhere else at a far better price. This simple rule also reduces the chances of experiencing buyer's remorse, which is a typical feeling for impulse buyers. Remember that delayed gratification leads to greater satisfaction, so you'll only have to gain by waiting a bit.
8. Don't be fooled by sales
Great deals, discounts, clearance sales, coupons – these are all very tempting words that can lure us into buying unnecessary things. More often than not, we end up buying items we don't really need. If you haven't planned on buying that item in the first place, then forgot about all these enticing offers and stick to your list. Remember that discounts don't always equal saving and a good deal is not always a bargain. Learn how to shop smart instead of buying cheap – this strategy is going to save you money in the long run. Ask the sales rep to give you some time alone so that you can consider all the pros and cons unhurriedly. This way you won't feel compelled to buy something just because he's wasted his time on you – after all, it's his job to attend customers.
9. Question every purchase
When you are about to buy something, ask yourself a couple of questions first. Try to imagine how the purchase is going to improve or simplify your life. Determine whether it's a want or a need and try to assess the value of your purchase by calculating its Cost per Wear or Cost per Use: how often will you wear this new dress or use this new tool, are you really getting your money's worth out of this purchase? Buying something you simply want yet can easily do without will simply result in cluttering your house with useless things. After making an impulse buy people quite often feel a sense of remorse and anxiety, regretting their unwise spending decisions. Try to evoke these feelings and analyze them before making the next purchase.
10. Stick to your budget
Probably the best way to determine whether you are an impulse buyer or not is to set a budget and diligently track your expenses. Monitoring how you spend your money every month will help you understand your priorities and identify any potential problem areas. A budget can really open up your eyes to any bad spending habits and encourage you to address them. Establish a want list and try to fit it in your budget plan. It will help curtail impulse buying and avoid going over your budget. Allowing yourself some discretionary spending is not that bad as long as you've planned for it in advance.