Shopping can, understandably, provide a thrill. There's something exciting about seeing something you enjoy and being able to purchase it. However, these "surprise" purchases have a tendency to derail budgets and become an unhealthy financial habit.
If you have a tendency to buy things on impulse when you're out shopping, you're not alone! However, we're here to help you overcome the habit so that you can keep your finances on track. And don't worry—this doesn't mean you can't ever make fun purchases again. This will just help you be intentional about your purchases.
Defining "Impulse Buying"
To really curb impulse buying, you must know exactly what it is...and why it can have a lasting impact on your budgeting.
Impulse buying is specifically about purchases you make that you did not plan to make. In other words, if you go to the store with a list of what you want to buy, and then make additional purchases that don't reflect your budget. An impulse purchase typically doesn't include the things you forgot to put on your list, or "emergency" purchases.
In fact, the data shows that in 2020, impulse buys increased the average person's monthly spending by $182.98. That's a significant amount that could have been stored in savings for emergencies. Over a year, that's $2,195.76 in unintentional purchases.
If budgeting, and saving money, is something you strive for, curbing your impulse spending can increase your ability to save dramatically!
5 Tips to Reduce Impulse Shopping
1. Create a list and stick to it
Impulse purchases don't have to be fun or exciting, either. In fact, they can sometimes include things that might appear like a good idea. The 2020 data suggests that 42% of impulse buys were cleaning supplies. And while cleaning supplies are rational and necessary, the over-purchasing of supplies you may not need at the time won't help you stick to a budget.
Before you set foot in a store, determine what you need and make a list. If you're susceptible to sales, you may even want to research deals and prices beforehand so you know where to go. That way, you aren't tempted to buy things you don't need just because they're discounted.
2. Sleep on it
If you see something you think you just can't live without, or there's a good discount, one of the best things you can do is wait. You'll cut back on "buyer's remorse" by simply giving yourself a day or two to think about whether it's really something you need.
It may turn out that the item is out of sight, out of mind, in which case you've saved yourself some cash. And if it's something you realize you could benefit from, you're no longer making an impulsive decision. This can even help you budget for the item in question in the future, if it's a significant purchase.
3. Avoid your "danger zones"
If impulse buying is an issue for you, chances are you have a good idea of which stores and sections are tempting for you. If it's a particular department of the store, you can resolve to avoid that section when you go shopping. That way, you can't be tempted.
If your "danger zone" is online, you may even want to unsubscribe from certain email lists. This may seem extreme, but it will help you to avoid impulsive online shopping. Especially if your email is frequently full of irresistible sales.
4. Identify your why
Getting to the root of your impulses may be a good way to curb your spending. Do you tend to buy things due to a fear of missing out? Are you trying to follow fashion trends because you want to be perceived well by others? Does impulse spending help you feel in control, or reduce negative emotions?
These motivations aren't inherently wrong. However, shedding light on the reasons you're making these purchases is a good first step to dismantling the impulses in the first place. Then, you might be able to identify ways to deal with these issues in a less financially reckless way.
5. Create a long-term rewards system
If you like the feeling of treating yourself, work that into your budget! For example, if you struggle with impulse shopping, try taking note of the money you save when you don't act on those impulses. Then, put the money you save into a savings account. Create a milestone for yourself, such as 6 months out, or a year out, and splurge on one of the items you didn't buy.
Delaying your gratification in this way can help you feel excited at the prospect of a reward, while simultaneously identifying a specific, meaningful purchase you want to make. And, you'll likely still have savings leftover! To better visualize your personal cashflow, join Thinkflow today.