Are You an Impulse Buyer? Follow These 5 Tips to Break the Cycle


Do you have an impulsive “trigger finger” when it comes to purchasing something you just “gotta have”? Does the “Best Deal Ever” banner hypnotize you into buying five of everything? See it, want it, buy it—this is your mantra.

Well, your bank account doesn’t appreciate it. And neither do all the creditors that continuously call. You truly have no idea how to break the cycle of impulsive shopping. Don’t worry about a thing. The following five tips can help you take back control.

Tip #1: Track All Purchases

This list may look similar to a budget but the purpose is much different. A budget is an expenditure based on your income. The issue with impulse buying lies in the neglect of actually following a budget. You’ll need something that simply shows what you are spending your money on.

Tracking all of your purchases, whether they are budgeted or not, will help you see habits that you never knew existed. Did you really need another waffle maker? Probably not. But your tracking list says you bought two and now you can’t even afford the batter.

Tracking all of your purchases will allow you to see where you need to make adjustments in your spending. “Seeing is believing” in every sense of the phrase.

Tip # 2: Pause Before You Buy

Have you ever gone to buy a hot glazed donut only to walk out with half a dozen? The answer is yes—yes, you have. And more than likely after you’ve licked your fingers clean, you immediately regretted your decision. You should have just enjoyed the one donut and waited for another day.

This same principle can be applied to your impulsive buying. If you see something you really want, but don’t need at the moment, pause and wait a couple of days. More often than not, your desire for that item will disappear hours later. Pause and wait before you swipe your card.

Tip #3: Only Take the Cash You Need

Although this isn’t always practical since having a credit card in the case of an emergency is important, carrying only enough cash for what you set out to buy can help you from making unnecessary purchases. When you run out of cash, you’re done shopping. You can’t spend what you don’t have.

To keep you from buying something that caught your eye rather than what you originally intended, write a simple list of the items you set out to buy. If it’s not on the list, you simply don’t buy it. Easier said than done, of course, but another hurdle to jump through will prevent you from being negligent with your cash.

Tip #4: Don’t Fall for Tricks

Every retail store’s main goal is to get customers to buy their products. Sales, creative signs, marketing campaigns, and catchy slogans are all used to make you spend money. One of the most popular terms out there is the acronym BOGO—Buy One, Get One.

Stores advertise that you can save money by receiving a free item when you buy another one at full price. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “free.” Buying something to get something free of charge is still more expensive than not buying anything at all. Don’t fall for these cheap marketing tricks. Think long and hard about what retailers are trying to talk you into.

Tip #5: Remove Enabling Online Offers

Curbing your impulse shopping habits at retail stores is a lot simpler than doing so online. You are required to use a credit card, and you can receive an item in a couple of days without getting out of bed. This sets you up for disaster. What can you do?

Well, research says that promotional emails from online retailers enable impulse buying. The coupon link is just a click away, and you’ll be checking out in a matter of seconds. The best way to combat this is to unsubscribe from such email lists. You can’t take advantage of a “deal” if you don’t know it exists.

Also, don’t retain your credit card info online. Not only is this not always safe, but it allows you to make quick, one-click purchases. Always enter your information manually with every purchase. Having to do just a little more work to shop online may discourage you from following through.