10 tips to avoid impulse buying

Impulse buying is one of the major reasons why even seemingly well-earning people are unable to save money. The whole temptation of impulse buying is dependent upon instant gratification. Avoid chasing instant gratification and controlling impulse buying can be much easier. But it is not as simple as giving advice. In this post I’ll be sharing practical tips top avoid impulse buying – some commonly known ones, some hopefully not that common! Hopefully they will be of some benefit to the readers.

Impulse buying can come in different forms. Some examples are: – Buying unnecessary food while shopping, sometimes exotic stuff which you throw away.  Buying clothes and accessories on a whim and add to your ever gr owing collection. Or buying a bigger an better thing (e.g. phone, television, laptop, car, vacation package etc.) just because you felt like upgrading. Prolonged period of impulse buying has an opportunity cost for your long term finances!

While most of us won’t be able to curb impulse buying completely, identifying some triggers and being aware of what all can lead to impulse buying can help reduce it. 

Tips to avoid impulse buying

10 tips to avoid impulse buying

  1. Create a list before shopping. Stick to that list. Try this for all kinds of shopping – big or small. For big ticket items, have a budget & specifications in place. This may help you avoid the impulse upgrade. E.g. buying a bigger car on impulse. Or getting a more “powerful” gaming laptop for your daily work. 
  2. Don’t do grocery shopping when hungry. You have tendency to spend more when hungry. And many of them can be unnecessary things. These “unnecessary” things often end up being underused, unused or thrown away. 
  3. Don’t go shopping to kill time, especially if you are stressed or depressed. You have more tendency to buy unnecessary stuff when bored or stressed. There may be better ways to kill time than aimlessly browsing eCommerce websites or walking around a shopping mall. Watch a movie or TV series, read a book or go for a run – do what makes you happy but doesn’t cost too much money! Easy for me to preach, but such options do exist.
  4. Wait for few days before buying, especially for large ticket purchases (unless it is an urgent situation like losing your phone!). Evaluate if you really need the thing you buy. Buy it only if you need it. 
  5. Beware of sale! Sale can be good time to buy things you need for a lesser price. But it can be a bad time to buy things you don’t really need. A 50% off on $100 sale means that you are spending 50% less. But if you don’t need it, you are essentially spending $50 more than 0!
  6. Don’t have too much storage space at home. Make conscious decision not to add storage space (e.g. wardrobes) to your existing ones. Eventually you are likely to not add any unnecessary stuff just because you have storage space! 
  7. Enlist help of a friend who can keep a check on your impulse shopping. The role of this friend would be to scold you after every such unnecessary shopping. This friend can be anyone – your spouse, parents coworker or any friend of yours.,
  8. Invest before spending money once you get your salary. Spend only what is left after investing. This can be as simple as storing the money in a bank account which you cant access easily. Better still, identity some good investment options and give your money a chance to grow. In general investing is better than money lying idle in bank account which is better than spending on things you don’t need. 
  9. Avoid wasting stuff unnecessarily. Be it throwing away food you don’t like (or don’t want to consume). Or something like buying 4 pair of clothes only to throw it away next season. Not wasting things can eventually have an impact on not buying and hoarding unnecessary stuff impulsively.
  10. Dump the credit cardCredit cards can be an amazing tool to manage your finances. But if you are a impulse shopper, it can soon backfire. If you think you can’t control your impulse shopping, cancel your credit card membership. Use cash wherever needed.

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Most of us have different triggers that lead to impulse buying. Understanding these triggers and having some mechanism to have proper controls in place can definitely help to address some of these triggers and control impulse buying.

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Have some more tips to control impulse buying that worked well for you?

Do share in the comments!

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