Impulse shopping can happen to any of us. After all, we’re humans with the ability to strongly desire something. While it’s natural to do some impulse buying of small items such as candies or a piece of clothing, some people have real trouble with it, spending all of their money without budgeting correctly.
For people who have a more serious problem, impulse shopping can be caused by emotional problems or some people were never taught about money management. It can happen for many reasons and in many sizes (and amounts of money!). But what they all have in common is that they can be controlled if you have enough willpower and some handy techniques to control your urges.
We’ll explore ideal ways in which you can overcome buying by impulse, how to reduce your desire to splurge, and eventually save money to have healthier finances.
Wait a Bit Before Buying Something
A purchase impulse happens, in the first place, because your mind and your body are telling you you NEED to have something. In order to control the desire and make sure you’re making a smart purchase, it’s important that you establish a mandatory waiting period before buying anything.
When you first see something you like at a store, go home and let the rush cool down for a couple of days or even a week. After the waiting period, most people discover they don’t really want or need the item, and others might come back to the store but decide, at the last minute, that they don’t want it that badly. During this waiting period, you can also think if the item you want to purchase has an added value to your life, if it will have a great effect on your daily life or if it’s just a desire. Also, be honest about how long you will use it and, if you have a limited amount of money, if it would be worth the purchase.
Pay in Cash
Shopping has very interesting psychological effects on people. When people make purchases with their credit cards, they don’t have a real or tangible idea of the money they have, and they tend to spend up to 50% more than when buying with cash.
When people use the cash they have in hand they see less and less money as they hand it out to pay for things, and this will help them to save some money. Another great tip is for you to leave your house only with the amount of cash you’ll need, and leave your credit card at home if you know there’ll be temptations around. Nowadays there are money management Apps and other financial tech systems for your credit card that help you control your expenses, letting you “block” certain amounts of money until a determined time.
Think of the Reasons You’re Buying
Seeing a great discount or a limited offer is no real reason to buy something, although that’s what stores want us to believe. We don’t deny that some offers are really good, but they’re still not enough for us to splurge money we don’t have. This is why it’s important to understand the clear difference between WANTING and NEEDING something.
Adopt the thought that you must purchase only what you need and ask yourself if what you want to buy is really necessary and if you’ll use it as much as you think you will.
Don’t Go Shopping when You Feel Upset
Many people make the mistake of going shopping when they’re feeling sad or depressed because this action has an immediate positive response on the body, releasing endorphins that make you feel happy.
While this effect is real, overspending or making an impulse purchase can have effects that’ll later make you feel worse. There are other ways to cheer you up or to ease the stress: you can exercise, listen to upbeat music, take a nap, or go out with friends for a drink; you don’t have to spend a dime to do all of these things!
Spend within Your Budget
This is advice that transcends impulse shopping: you always need to have a budget and try to stick to it if you want to save money. When you create a solid budget that takes into account your regular expenses, it will be ten times easier to know how much money you have to spare, or you can even set an amount of money to “go crazy” with and purchase things you like, without destabilizing your whole finances for the month.
Stay Clear of Mailing Lists
It’s very hard to stick to your money-saving goals and avoid temptations when your inbox is crammed with promotions and sales and special events. Your mind might not even be thinking of purchasing, but stores do everything they can to convince you to buy. Start canceling as many subscriptions as you can! Even if a store has 24-hour special deals, remember that all discounts will come back around, so you don’t have to “seize them” right this second.
Don’t Shop Alone
We all need somebody who is honest with us and tells us to stop destructive behavior when it’s happening. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to go shopping in the company of a friend or a relative. Let them know upfront what it is you need to buy so they can talk you out of new temptations when the urges come up.
Do a “No-Spend” Challenge
When you feel like you’re out of control and your impulse buying has reached a new level, you might want to take drastic measures. Try a “No-Spend” challenge, where you start by making a list of all those things that are essential and you need to pay each month: rent, utilities, gas, groceries, etc. Once you have that list stick to it and don’t spend a dime on anything non-essential such as eating out, buying clothes, doing your nails, and so on. The good thing about this challenge is that, if you succeed, you can reward yourself once a month by buying yourself a little treat to help you keep it up.
Never Forget your Goals
Our last piece of money management advice is probably the most important one. When you set clear goals for yourself, making impulse buying gets in the way of achieving them. Think of what it is that you want the most: to pay off your mortgage, getting a new car, maybe even liquidating your debts. Always keep this goal in mind and every time you feel an urge to purchase something, think that those dollars could get you closer to achieving your goal instead.
We can all agree that spending money is exhilarating, and the things that money can get are very enjoyable. However, you need to keep in mind that money is also a big responsibility that can get out of control if you let your impulses lead you. With these useful tips you’ll have no problem stopping your impulse buying and being able to save money.