As consumers, we often feel the need to splurge or purchase items that we don’t need. We find ourselves impulsively buying things to satisfy the urge to spend, but not fulfilling any real wants in our lives. Our unconscious minds are under the influence of tactics from retailers as well as basic evolutionary drives, especially when we are strolling through the mall or “window shopping”.
How do you prevent impulse buying? Here are ten different ways to avoid falling into traps where retailers want to take advantage of your money and be smart about how you choose to spend it.
1. Plan ahead.
Write out a list and stick to it! Looking up the prices of the items on your list helps with your budget and will result in an efficient shopping trip. When you step into a store with specific purchases in mind, you can check off items on your list and feel more accomplished when you leave the store with ONLY the items that you wrote down.
Feel free to treat yourself to something small, but only if your budget allows for this tiny splurge. When you do plan small impulse buys, it will curb the urge to splurge on things that you don’t need. Write this down on your list and when you have to think about what you will buy to treat yourself, it will be more likely that you will purchase something that you actually want.
You can also purchase apps on your phone and computer to track your spending habits. It displays your spending results in graphs, numbers, and pictures so that you have a good representation on where your money is going. There are also different apps that you can download for free, such as Mint, Goodbudget, or Expense Manager, depending on the type of device that you have.
2. Leave your credit or debit cards at home.
Before leaving the house, make a conscious effort to leave your credit or debit cards at home to prevent impulse purchases.
If you don’t have the proper resources to pay for an item, it will make things easier for you to beat the urge to buy unnecessary items. When you can’t physically see money leaving your bank account, but have only the idea that money is being transferred to another account, it does not feel like you are actually spending money.
3. Carry only a certain amount of cash.
When you have planned ahead in your budget, you shouldn’t really need to bring more than what you have set out to spend. So realistically, bring the amount that you have written down in your spending budget and only use that money towards that you intended on using it towards. If you budgeted $70 for groceries, spend that amount on groceries and nothing else like a new wardrobe.
Another benefit of paying with cash is that you can physically see the money leaving your hands and going towards a purchase. It will connect easier in your mind that you are in fact spending money versus using a plastic card that is electronically transferring money over to another account.
4. Question yourself.
Do you really want it or need it? This is a big question that you should always ask yourself before making any purchases. There is a difference between the two questions. To further explain, need is something you have to have whereas want is something you would like to have.
The essential things in life are needs such as a roof over your head, enough food and clean water, basic health care, and other things along these lines. Everything else that goes beyond the basic necessities of life are wants such as designer clothing, a new car, luxury food, etc.
Do treat yourself to some things along the way as life is supposed to be lived to a certain extent, and not just experienced. The take home message is be wise about how you choose to spend your money. You worked hard for it, so make your purchases worth it. Gift yourself smartly once in awhile.
5. Bring a trustworthy friend.
The next time you decide to go shopping, bring someone with you and explain your intentions on avoiding impulse purchases. Make sure you bring a friend who is honest and is not afraid to steer you in the right direction. Having a friend with you to discourage you from impulse buying will allow you to avoid spending money on things that you don’t need. They are almost like a witness to make sure that you stay true to your intentions.
Do note that you have to choose wisely if you do decide to bring a friend because if they are also known for impulse buying, then it might turn out to be a disaster!
6. Avoid the mall and online shopping.
What better way to get rid of impulse buying than avoiding the temptation altogether? Don’t go to the mall to window shop, and don’t even go online to go shopping. This will curb the urge to shop and purchase items that you don’t need. So turn off your computer and avoid signing up for newsletters for stores that you frequent often.
7. Don’t shop with an empty stomach!
Before you decide to go grocery shopping, make sure you have eaten, as everything at the grocery store will appear to be more appetizing due to your state of hunger. You will find yourself placing food items in your cart that you don’t need or still have plenty of at home.
As suggested in suggestion one, write out a list so that you know what you are in the grocery store for and what items you are going to be purchasing while you are there. Another advantage of writing and checking off a list is to avoid forgetting to pick up key items like milk that may have been one of the important reasons for the shopping trip in the first place!
8. Limit your shopping time.
If this means setting an alarm on your phone or bringing a stopwatch to limit your shopping time, do it! When you limit your exposure to window-shopping, you are prevented from developing the urge to spend money on unnecessary items.
9. Do your research.
If you plan on making a bigger purchase, do your own research ahead of time and shop around for the best deal. Sometimes sales representatives may pressure you into purchasing something that you didn’t really want in the first place just so they can earn their commission. Don’t let this happen to you!
Not only does doing your research help you figure out the pros and cons of the item that you are planning to purchase, the more time you spend on reading up about that item, the more you will be satisfied with your purchase at the end.
10. Return policies.
Before you purchase anything from a store, make sure you read up on their return policy before you finalize that transaction. Most places offer a return policy with the receipt and tags in place within a certain number of days. Other places offer exchange only, and do not accept returns. Don’t fall into the trap of impulsively buying something and not being able to return the item when you no longer want it.
Walking by store windows with perfectly arranged items for your viewing pleasure causes a great temptation to impulsively make a purchase for something that you don’t need. When you want to get rid of impulse buying, follow the 10 steps mentioned above to curb that temptation to spend money. By actively being aware and thinking about how you choose to spend your money wisely, your bank account will thank you. A very happy no impulse buying to you!