Do you find yourself purchasing a chocolate bar when you pass it at the grocery store checkout? Do you click on links to purchase items when you’re browsing social media? Does shopping make you feel good after a long day? You might be wondering, how do I stop impulse buying?
While purchasing items on impulse isn’t necessarily bad, few of us have the financial resources to buy anything we want to at any time.
Fortunately, there are a lot of easy ways to face and change your spending habits.
If you’re wondering how to stop impulse buying, we have 8 tricks below. Try a few of these to form a better relationship with your finances:
1. Understand Your Spending Habits
One of the first steps to stop impulse buying is to develop an understanding of your spending habits. Use a simple budgeting app, such as Weekly, to keep track of all of your purchases.
When you can see how you’re spending your money, it’s easier to recognize impulse buying and identify the habits you need to change. Weekly tells you how much money it’s Safe-to-Spend every week, and you may realize that your impulse buying is consistently putting you over this limit.
Another benefit of a budgeting app is that as you start to make changes in your spending, you’ll be able to see the benefits. This will encourage you keep up your new spending style.
2. Make a List Before Heading to the Store
A lot of impulse purchases occur as you’re shopping and browsing at a store. One way to stop impulse buying is to make a list.
Lists help you distinguish between items you need and items you just buy on a whim.
To reduce your impulse buying, you can try sticking to only items on your list when you’re at the store. Another strategy to try is allowing yourself a set, small amount of extra money to spend, after you’ve gotten the items you know you need.
3. Take a Minute to Weigh the Cost of Impulse Purchases
Purchasing one, small item on impulse doesn’t seem like it will make much of an impact in your weekly budget. But these items add up.
When you’re shopping and you add an item to your cart, take the time to think about its true cost. Compare the value of an impulse item to a long-term savings goal or your weekly Safe-To-Spend amount.
You’ll have a more realistic perspective if you realize that the shoes in your shopping cart are 20% of your Safe-To-Spend, or will mean it will take you longer to save for your trip to the Bahamas. This is a great strategy to stop impulse buying.
4. Leave Items in Online Shopping Carts for a Few Days
Shopping has never been easier or more convenient. With a few clicks, an impulse purchase can arrive at your house in three days or less. Fortunately, it’s easy to add a safety net that helps you reduce this type of impulse buying.
It’s safe to impulsively put items into an online shopping cart, as long as you don’t buy them. Revisit the items in your cart after a few days and see if you still want them.
Chances are, you probably don’t, and you’ve just saved yourself some money.
5. Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists and Shopping Apps
In our society, we are constantly bombarded with ads, emails, magazines, notifications, and pop-ups that try to get us to buy something. You can limit these temptations.
Unsubscribe from email lists and magazines. Turn off shopping app notifications on your smart phone, or remove shopping apps completely. Delete saved credit card information so it’s more difficult to just click “Buy Now.”
Once you’ve removed the temptations, you’ll find it easier to stop impulse buying.
6. Reward Yourself with Free Activities Instead of Items
One of the causes of impulse buying, or buying items we don’t really need, is that we buy things as rewards. We often use these systems of rewards to help us meet goals related to diet, fitness, and personal milestones.
However, rewards can be free.
Here are some ways you can reward yourself with free activities instead of by purchasing new items. You can try taking a relaxing bath at home instead of splurging on a mani-pedi, hosting a game night at home with friends or family instead of going out to dinner, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy outside instead of going to a fancy dinner.
7. Practice Mindfulness to Better Control Emotional Spending
One cause of your impulse buying habits might be related to your emotions.
See if you can identify emotional reasons for spending, including thoughts similar to: “I’m having a bad day and a new golf club will make me feel better” or “My neighbor just bought a new washing machine, so I need one, too.”
Practice other ways to counter stress, fatigue, or Keeping-Up-with-the-Jones’ mindsets. You can try exercise, mindfulness, or self-care instead to help you stop impulse buying.
8. Allow Yourself Some Flexibility and Grace
When you start using these strategies to change your impulse buying habits, make sure to avoid an all-or-nothing mindset. These can actually sabotage your efforts to make lasting changes. Once you make a “mistake” with one impulse purchase, the wrong mindset can lead you to think, “I’ve already made one mistake, I might as well keep going.”
It’s important to give yourself some flexibility and grace. If you make an impulse purchase, just move on and try to do better.
In fact, it might be better to not think of an impulse purchase as a mistake at all. After all, it’s perfectly fine to buy something you want on occasion.
You have the power to change your habits and stop impulse buying. Look into an app like Weekly to track your expenses, and then head out with your new awareness to make more enlightened purchases.