Impulse buying: Learn how to avoid it!

Have you ever stumbled across the dollar section at Target and couldn’t help but buying something that you do not need but the price makes you not even hesitate? Then, you have at least once made an impulse buy. But, do you know how much money is it costing you and what does it mean for your personal finances?

Impulse buying means the acquisition of all those products that we buy at any given moment, without a specific need. It is more likely that there is not an analysis behind the wish of buying (why am I buying this for? Do I need it? The cost vs. the frequency that I am going to use it justify the purchase?), you only see the product, you want it and you stand by the cost of it. Often, this small habit shows off among those sections that are specifically designed to making you believe that, because the price range is low, you can and must acquire something. Discounts can also make us, for a moment, impulse buyers.

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If the cost is not high, we could believe that our bank statement would not be affected. However, if we keep finding reasons over and over again to purchase things, we lose the practice of thinking about what we consume and it is more likely that we keep finding logic to our behavior (‘it is cheap’). Perhaps it is not such a big deal if it happens once, but this small habit could be implanted in us, and then we could collect higher spendings to find out later that we are way above our monthly budget.

This practice could also happen while online shopping, especially since 2020, and living in a pandemic world that forced people to stop many activities. Emotions such as boredom, angst, sadness may also be triggers that led us to fall into wanting a product because we believe that it would make us feel better once we have it.

What can you do to avoid impulse buying?

  • Analyze if you need a product that you feel tempted, beyond the price. Even if costs a dollar, if you do not need the product this means one less dollar in your bank account.
  • Ask yourself why you want the product: Is it the price? Is it because you need to replace something? It is because you can find a use later on? Is it because you believe it makes you feel better once you purchase it?
  • Think about your budget for the month: Can you add another purchase that has not been planned?
  • Take into account your long-term goals, each cent counts!
  • Pass by the discount and dollar section knowing that it is a sales strategy and that the goal is to make you fall for it.
  • If you feel tempted, force yourself to think about it at least for 24 hours.
  • Whenever you go to the mall or the supermarket, make sure to have a shopping plan ahead and do not add things that aren’t listed on it. Same thing when you browse online: go to a website because you need something and not because you want to see what they have.
  • Get rid of newsletters that are aiming to sell products. Shops and brands also use newsletters to sell something that you haven’t thought about in the first place.
  • If you are aware that you have some dollars available to spend on products that weren’t included in your monthly budget, you might want to consider transferring the money at the moment to your emergency fund.

Good management of personal finances also means thinking in the long-term and impulse buying is an action that does not occur with a previous plan. When you get rid of this habit, not only you will see that your bank account is a little bit bulkier but also you will feel better with yourself because you will learn to consume more efficiently.

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