Five Quick Tips to Avoid Impulse Shopping

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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  1. Kim says:

    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.

  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!) =)

    • John Schmoll says:

      Lol, I won’t say a thing. 😉 I like the sleep on it method to. If I truly want it and can afford it then I just need to be satisfied by waiting it out to make sure I’m not just justifying the purchase. If I don’t truly want it, then the money is much better off in my pocket.

  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.”

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree and people do it all the time. My Mom does it as well and she has clothes upon clothes that she has never worn, and with the tags still on them, which is just crazy in my opinion. It’s all because she goes to the mall to “walk”.

  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.

  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.

  6. Michelle says:

    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.

  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!! 🙂

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Shannon! I’ve done the same exact thing before and it always works. It’s funny how easily it can be to derail from your list so it’s nice to have a hubby or wife on the other end to keep you on task. 🙂

  8. Liz says:

    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.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Liz! That’s a great point on the separate email account for retail stuff. We do that ourselves and it’s always amazing the amount of stuff you can get just for that. Thus why we separate it out from our main email. 🙂

  9. Michelle says:

    We can never go shopping hungry. We have left the store with cartloads of just junk. Now days, we only shop with a list.

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