How to stop Impulse Buying

Curb Impulse Buying to Stop Overspending

By Mike Peterson
In March 17, 2016

If you want to save more money, pay down debt, and become all-around more financially responsible, all you have to do is stop spending money on stuff you don’t need.

Sure, that sounds easy. Just stop spending. End of story. But if changing your spending behavior were as simple as flipping a switch, there wouldn’t be people out there struggling with budget problems and credit card debt. Nobody would worry about a lack of savings or a non-existent emergency fund. Most money problems wouldn’t exist.

Unfortunately, there’s a little more to it than that. I’m not saying it’s impossible to change our spending behavior and habits – but it takes a little effort and strategy to rein in unnecessary purchases and sidestep impulse buys. It takes work. But there are a few ways you can make it easier to avoid the temptation.

Here are a few things you can do to fight the temptation to overspend:

  • Unsubscribe and unlike: You probably get several emails a day from your favorite retailers, each one offering flash sales, buy-one-get-one events, and other limited-time savings events. And if you’ve ever “liked” a favorite store on Facebook, you probably also see notifications about sales and discounts. The end result: You’re bombarded with super-tempting offers to spend money every time you go online. A good fix for this is to simply unsubscribe or opt out of sales emails (nearly all of them will have an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom) and/or “unlike” or hide feeds from any retailers you’ve liked on Facebook.
  • Tune out the tempting TV shows. Reality-based home improvement, fashion, and cooking shows can be fun to watch – but they can be dangerous, too. If you’ve ever felt compelled to, say, redecorate your entire house after binge-watching a home improvement show on HGTV, you know what I’m talking about. Watch responsibly and remember that those TV shows have unlimited budgets. You probably don’t.
  • Have a purpose. If you go to your favorite store or shopping center without an end goal in mind, you’re likely to leave with a bunch of stuff you don’t need – and a depleted bank account (or, even worse, a growing credit card balance). You can cut down dramatically on impulse buying if you change the way you shop. Don’t browse or window shop. Wait until you need something specific, go to the appropriate store, and buy that item – and only that item. Then, go home.

And, while we’re on the topic of having a purpose . . . 

  • Make a list. Before you shop, make a list of what you need. Take that list to the store with you. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the list. End of story.
  • Shop with cash. Don’t trust your ability to say no to impulse purchases? Leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping. Instead, take just enough cash to cover what you plan to buy. After all, you can’t spend what you don’t have.
  • Don’t cave to financial peer pressure. Maybe you have a friend who routinely plans pricy, elaborate “girls’ day out” adventures without considering your budget. Or a coworker that constantly guilt trips you into buying cookies or magazine subscriptions for his daughter’s school fundraiser. Or a family member that cajoles you into kicking in for expensive group gifts for every anniversary, birthday, or holiday. You need to be honest and realistic about your finances, and that means knowing how to say “no” to friends and family who have different ideas about how you should spend your money. 
  • Budget for fun. If you think the word “budget” is synonymous with “deprivation,” you’re doing it wrong. Yes, budgets help you keep your spending in check while meeting your financial goals. But a good budget – the kind of budget you can actually live with – should include some kind of set, monthly allowance that you can spend any way you want. But remember: once your “fun” allowance is gone, it’s gone.

Sure, you might not be able to change your spending habits overnight – but by making a few small changes to your lifestyle, you can curb your impulses to overspend. And if you need debt advice or want to talk to someone about spending, saving, budgeting, or credit cards, you can always reach out to Debt Guru.   Contact the DebtGuru team today for a free debt consultation.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.