How to Stop Impulse Buying

Becky | Freebie Lady
by Becky | Freebie Lady

I’m going to share some of my most effective tips to help you figure out how to stop impulse buying.

We impulse buy because of our emotions, our past experiences, or because of our relationship with money. We may not get to the root of why we impulse buy right now, but at least we can employ some strategies to prevent becoming vulnerable to impulse purchases.

1. Don’t deprive yourself

Do not deprive yourself. It seems counterintuitive but mindfully spending money on yourself will prevent you from mindlessly spending when the impulse strikes. Set aside a specific amount of money each month or each week and spend it on yourself.

One of the reasons we impulse buy is because we deprive ourselves of so much when we are trying to save. It’s a lot like strict dieting and binging. When you don’t let yourself have any snacks, you can end up binging on snacks in a moment of weakness. Set yourself up for success.

Go to Target, or whichever store you like, stroll around, and buy yourself something with that money. Put up as many guard rails as you can. Take the allotted amount of money into the store and leave the rest of your wallet in the car.

2. Take your credit cards offline

One of the reasons we are so vulnerable to buying is because it is so easy. All of our credit cards are connected to our favorite online shopping websites and it is far too easy to just click and buy.

Remove your credit cards from Amazon and any other online shopping sites that you frequent. This will create more time and space for you to think about your purchase while you’re getting your credit card and inputting your information.

Credit card

3. Stay out of your trigger stores

Everyone has certain stores that they can’t walk out of without buying something. Do yourself a favor and stay out of those stores. For me, they’re Target and Hobby Lobby. I’ll see a really good price on something I definitely do not need and I’ll just buy it without thinking.

4. Set yourself a threshold

I set myself a threshold of $50. If I am interested in buying something that is more than $50 I have a rule that I have to wait 48 hours before buying the desired item.

This gives my brain time to get past the excitement of buying impulsively and gives me a chance to really think about whether or not I want to make the purchase.

8 times out of 10 I end up not buying the item. Your threshold does not have to be $50. Choose a number that makes sense for you.

5. Create categories for your budget

Make sure you carefully designate each dollar towards specific categories within your budget and do not go over your budget. Keeping your spending organized will help you avoid spending impulsively. It may be tedious but it works.

Shopping trolley

6. "Five Why" system

If you are considering making a purchase use the “Five Why” system. This system requires you to ask yourself 5 questions. The first question is, “Why do I want to buy this item.” Let’s use a decorative pillow as an example. Maybe your answer to the first question is “I want to buy this pillow because it will look good in my living room and it will make me happy.” Next ask yourself, “Why would this make me happy?”

Each answer should prompt another question that forces you to become more introspective about why you want to make the purchase. This process will help you learn more about yourself and your spending habits. It may even help you get to the root of a deeper underlying issue that is causing you to buy impulsively.

7. Habit chart

A habit chart helps you adopt new habits. Write the new habit down, such as restraining the urge to impulse buy, and give yourself a checkmark every day that you manage to stay committed to the habit. It’s a self-rewarding system that will allow you to track your progress and feel good about maintaining it.

8. Don’t shop when you are emotional

If you are feeling sad, angry, or nervous - even if you are feeling happy, do not shop until you are calm. Emotional spending can cause us to lose control of our sensibility very quickly.

9. Use cash

Using credit cards or debit cards does not trigger the sense of loss we feel when we spend cash. The process of handing off cash enables us to feel that we are giving something to get something.

When we use cards to pay, we don’t feel that sacrifice because we still have our cards. This makes it easier to spend recklessly because we don’t even feel like we’re spending at all.

10. Stop comparing yourself to others

These days it feels impossible to resist the urge to compare ourselves to others. We have social media in our faces all the time showing us how much everyone has and causing us to feel less than.

If you find yourself feeling envious when you look at social media, try taking a social media break. Even if your break is just for a day, this time will help you regain perspective. It will bring you back into yourself and keep you aware of the reality of your personal situation without comparing.

11. Accountability partner

You can use a friend or your life partner as your accountability partner. Have a person who will help you keep track of your spending and give you a hard time if you are going overboard. The idea is to be open about your spending habits to create accountability.

How to stop impulse buying

I hope this article helped you learn a little bit more about impulse buying and how to put up barriers to protect ourselves and our wallets. Impulse buying is a habit we all become vulnerable to at some point.

These tips will help you maintain control. If you found them helpful, leave a comment!

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