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Five Quick Tips to Avoid Impulse Shopping

Impulse shopping

We have all been guilty of it from time to time. You head to the store with only a couple items in mind, and wind up leaving with a basket full of stuff…err crap. What happened? No matter how you ended up deciding to purchase all of that extra stuff, it most certainly isn’t free.

If you are living on a carefully planned monthly budget, giving in to impulse shopping is one quick way to fall off track. By avoiding impulse buys and sticking to your financial game plan, things will look a lot better at the end of the month.

We’re all bound to be tempted from time to time, but those who are wise with their money will not be satisfied by giving into financial temptation. While not earth shattering, hopefully the following simple tips will help you keep the impulse shopping at bay and more money in your pocket.

#1 – Make a List

Something as simple as making a shopping list before you leave the house is an easy way to limit impulse shopping. If it isn’t on the list when you walk in the store, it shouldn’t be in your basket when you leave. If you can stick to that rule, impulse purchases can be kept to a minimum.

#2 – Don’t Go Grocery Shopping Hungry

In terms of impulse food purchases, going to the grocery store when you are hungry is a recipe for disaster. Everything will look and smell delicious if you haven’t eaten in awhile, and you might find yourself leaving with a whole bunch of items you simply don’t need.

Try to fit in your grocery trip when you aren’t hungry so you can stick to your list easier and not break the budget on unnecessary food items. This is also not to mention the fact that if you want to eat healthy, many of those impulse purchases tend to be junk you just don’t need. At least, that’s the case for me most times.

#3 – Sleep on It

If you are tempted to make a purchase that you haven’t been planning on, leave the store and sleep on it for a day or more. If it still seems like a good idea the next day, then it’s up to you to determine if the budget will take it.

Giving yourself a night to consider spending the money is often all it takes to realize you would rather have the money still in the bank as opposed to being spent on the item you were considering. Suffice it to say, if you can see yourself living just fine without it then just keep the cash. You’ll be much happier in the long run, trust me.

#4 – Don’t Walk the Mall

Some people love to go walking at the mall just to walk. If it’s purely for exercise I can understand it. However, I know there have been many times (years ago) that I would go to the mall because I was bored or just wanted to hang out. You guessed it…that was also when I was in debt up to my eyeballs. Needless to say, this is a huge no-no if you’re in the least bit tempted to give in to impulse shopping.

If you’re looking for simple exercise try other things like walking at a park, or around your neighborhood. Heck, even try using the track at your local high school. If priced right, I think you could even argue that paying for a gym membership is likely to be more affordable than the money you could waste by impulse shopping your way through the mall.

#5 – Avoid Impulse Shopping by Paying Cash

Impulse items are generally more likely to be purchased when you are using a credit card. It is argued that if you’re paying with cash you feel the pain of handing that money over as opposed of swiping a credit card.

Instead, try to pay cash for everything that you buy at the store. That way, you will know that you are spending ‘real’ money on the item – not just using credit. This will make you think twice about the purchase, and likely have you come to the decision that it isn’t worth the money.

 

What are some tips you use to avoid impulse shopping? What is the last item you purchased that you still can’t believe you bought?

 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Polycart

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John Schmoll is a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can live lives free from the shackles of debt and empowered to make their money work for them. You can check out his other sites: Frugal Rules, for ways to improve your financial literacy; and Sprout Wealth for tips on different ways to make more money. John has been featured on Forbes, Lifehacker, Yahoo Finance and US News & World Report and more. If you're wanting to grow your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

18 comments

  1. I think avoiding the mall or stores is huge. We don’t have a mall where we live and I think that helps. If I was just walking around, I’d go in a store. Even after all this time, I’m still a sucker for a good sale.
    Kim recently posted…Culture Clash: Towaoc to AspenMy Profile

  2. I think sleeping on it is the best tip…well at least for me. The item will always be there and most times when I sleep on it…I either forget I wanted it or decide that I don’t want it. Walking the mall is always dangerous…especially with my wife (don’t tell her I said that!) =)
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Financial Decisions: Emotion vs LogicMy Profile

  3. It always amazes me when I see people walking around shopping areas for fun. Proximity is everything. If I’m near stuff being sold, sooner or later you can just call me “buyer.”
    Joe Saul-Sehy recently posted…Creating the Pitch-Perfect Budget – with The Budget MamaMy Profile

  4. I do so much better at the grocery store when I have a list. Not only do I save money, but I also buy ingredients that actually make a meal.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Credit Card Rewards: What Am I Doing Now?My Profile

  5. Good thing I rarely ever go to the mall. It was “cool” when I was a kid. Now I would rather gouge my eyes out with a hot iron. No mall for me.
    Grayson @ Sprout Wealth recently posted…Building Wealth Starts with SavingsMy Profile

  6. I used to go to the mall to “window shop.” That never worked out the way I wanted to, I always bought stuff and regretted it later! Now, I just try to avoid the mall altogether.
    Michelle recently posted…Road Trip Recap (Plus a Dog Fight) and Life UpdateMy Profile

  7. These are great tips! Last week I went food shopping after working out and I knew I would be hungry, but it was the only time I could fit into my schedule. So I walked the aisles, kept to my list, but as I was about halfway through, random stuff started looking appealing to be. I literally picked up my phone, called my hubby and had him talk me through the rest of the trip so I didn’t overspend on random stuff like cheetos and little debbie snack cakes. When I was safely at the registers, I let hubby go, paid, and went home to eat lunch. Mission accomplished!! 🙂
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Top Ten World Cup GoalsMy Profile

  8. These are great tips John. I love mall walking myself but I try to avoid it for this very reason. I would also recommend keeping a separate email address for all your promotional store emails. It can be very tempting to shop when you get emails about all the great sales going on at your favorite stores. I like to keep that out of site and out of mind until I need something.
    Liz recently posted…I’m Taking Friday Off! What Should I do?My Profile

  9. We can never go shopping hungry. We have left the store with cartloads of just junk. Now days, we only shop with a list.
    Michelle recently posted…How We Budget for One IncomeMy Profile

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