The Only Way To Stop Impulsive Buying

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Tips on how to avoid impulse spending.

The human mind is unpredictable, especially with regards to planning, and preference. However, one key secret to dealing with this unpredictability is discipline (this is not to say that indiscipline is the ONLY cause though).

One of the ways you can exercise discipline is through your spending, and budgeting. There is a huge change that most impulsive buyers struggle with indiscipline.

Impulse buying or purchases can be fun and exciting in the moment. I have had this discussion with different people, and have made some very critical observations that are common with most people who are impulsive buyers.

You set out to visit your local mall or supermarket, and your original plan is to get some groceries that you have carefully listed out on your shopping list, and after picking those items and ticking almost everything on the list, you decide to take a walk around the mall and convince yourself to do a little window shopping.

After all, it doesn’t hurt to just look around, right? Then you get home and while unpacking, you see that you have bought way more than you set out to do.

What is impulse buying? Impulse buying means buying a product or service without prior intention to do so. It is usually fueled by our emotions and mood at the point, and the satisfaction achieved is short-lived. This is a normal and quite common occurrence, and we are all guilty of purchasing products we did not initially plan to buy at different points in our lives.

Imagine going into a store, or walking by Walmart, and discovering that they are having a sales-off. I mean, who would not jump on a 60% discounted offering? Definitely wouldn’t have been me back then! Well, this can have repercussions, and some of the effects of impulse buying will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs.

However, impulsive buying is not a habit that one should cultivate. Not only can it get very addictive, but it can also put you in a financial crisis. A survey carried out shows that the average American’s impulse spending shows that it amounts to about $5400 annually.

During the lockdown, this increased by about 18%, and with online stores and e-commerce platforms all over the internet, it is even harder to break this habit because, with your phone, you just click, like, add to cart, order, and you have it at your doorstep, all of these in less than ten minutes (well, except delivery of course, but I’m sure you get what I mean).

While it could be pleasing at the moment, maybe having the new shoe or bag on, the long-term effects of impulse buying are injurious to your finances. I read somewhere on the internet that we are all compulsive spenders at heart. While this holds some element of truth, there are, however, different factors that trigger this habit in many people.

We, humans, are emotional beings and this reflects in every area of our lives. People who buy out of compulsion are those who let their emotions get the better of them when making money decisions, and they buy things that they feel is right for them or that give them pleasure and delight in the moment.

Another reason why people can be impulsive buyers is because of poor money management skills. It takes a good level of discipline to be able to handle money well and use it to meet your needs.

There was a research carried out on people with impulsive buying habits and it showed that most of them did not have any form of financial education or they grew up with extravagant parents.

Financial literacy is a must-have skill if you must stop impulsive buying and properly manage your finances. One other cause that I resonate with is that people buy stuff out of their lists because they are convinced that it is a good deal.

We are always looking for means to save up money when purchasing products. Discounted prices of a product, say tissue paper, usually have a way of pulling us in even though we do not require them in that instant.

There’s that feeling of satisfaction from getting stuff at a good bargain, but sometimes this feeling overrides the relevance of the product or service to you at that point.

how to stop wanting to buy things

There is only one way to stop impulsive buying. The topic is not a mistake (even if you thought it was), and you can take charge of your spending by doing this one thing: TAKING ACTION. You do not wish that impulsive spending habit away, and neither do you ignore it, else it can sink you into debts and keep you from reaching your long-term financial goals.

I know you have questions. What are the causes of impulse buying? What are the disadvantages of impulse buying? how do you stop impulsive behavior? how do you stop wanting to buy things? We’ll be looking into these in the next few paragraphs.

Action requires direction to trigger the transformation, and so we would now look at some practical steps you can take to master how to avoid impulse buying


1.  Create A Budget And Stick To It

Budgeting is a very effective money management tool, and I guess you might be quite familiar with it. However, your budget does not just manage your money, it also restricts you and I believe that this is its most critical function.

Budgeting helps us capture our needs, prioritize them based on their importance, and direct our money on which one to attend to per time. It is you saying NO to impulsive spending before you even face the situation.

Whatever does not make the budget was never a pressing need and even if it was, it is not required at that time. If you feel you would need it, you can always write it down and get home first, but don’t fall for the trap of buying it on the spot. It doesn’t end well most times, and this is me talking from experience. I consider budgeting as an important factor in knowing how to avoid impulse buying.


2.  Unsubscribe From Emailing Lists

Well, this one might come as a surprise to you, but many people who have followed through with this advice have seen massive improvements. Emails are means of communication, and more often than not, it is being employed by companies, brands, and salespeople.

The more mailing lists you are on, the more exposed you are to ads, which increases your chances of making impulsive purchases. We as humans are enticed by what we see, and many companies have studied our behaviors as humans and how it influences our financial decisions and implemented it in their ads.

There are so many subtle means of advertising, and for an industry expected to surpass over $500 billion by 2023 with you as the target, expect that there would be so many creative ways to convince you to part with your money, and email marketing is one widely utilized tool to achieve this. Knowing how to avoid impulse buying means you know how not to allow your emotions to control your spending.


3.  Have A Shopping Partner(s)

In making key decisions like this and following through with them, you need accountability partners to help you stay on track. With your shopping partner, you have someone to scrutinize those impulsive buys you would normally make and help you keep to your lists while shopping.

Another important reason why you need a shopping partner is to have someone to help you draft your shopping list. Some of our impulse spendings are influenced by some of the things we have set out to buy.

You are more likely to buy chocolates while shopping for cookies, or shoes whole getting new pairs of socks. So, a shopping partner scrutinizes your list with you and helps you ensure that your list matches your needs and your income. Your shopping partner should not only be concerned about your purchases, rather they should be helping you master how to avoid impulse buying.


4.  Take Only The Budgeted Amount When Going Shopping

This is the most direct of all approaches here. Once you have your list of items you want to purchase ready and you are set to go shopping, do not take your credit card with you or excess cash.

You are most likely to pick up anything that catches your eye and add it to your cart when you do so. Once the money you have with you is the fixed amount you have allocated, it leaves no room for excesses. You would never know how to avoid impulse buying when you do not work with a budget.

There is a caveat to this though, and it has helped me on a few occasions. I always suggest that you take some extra money when going out. My mum would call it the 10% emergency shopping money. This covers for an increase in the price of goods or unforeseen circumstances that might happen along the way, like your car breaking down and requiring you to order an Uber home.


5.  Take Regular Social Media Breaks

We consume a lot of things on the internet, consciously and unconsciously, and these things form thoughts and build up into habits. It is very healthy for you to take breaks from social media and take out time to plan your life, and this applies very well to your financial life.

The latest and newest brands are always put out on social media, and there is so much buzz around them. Many times, our financial decisions and purchasing choices are us trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Sometimes, take a break off these external influences and look around you. Only then can you identify and properly prioritize your needs and create a pathway to financial Independence.

You might need to write this down, “impulsive spending are obstacles to your financial independence.” Yes, you love social media, but if you must know how to avoid impulse buying, you must learn to take regular social media breaks.


6.  Take It One Step at A Time

Whenever you are dealing with any habit, especially one that you have had over a period of time, you need to be patient with yourself. Habits are built over time, and would not just end in an instant. It requires patience and consistency to attain significant progress and achieve better control of your spending.

Also, don’t be harsh on yourself when you experience some obstacles or fall back to impulsive buys every now and then. Celebrate your wins, however small, and make very realistic goals. Don’t be too vague. Mastering how to avoid impulse buying takes time.


7.  Include Miscellaneous Expenditure In Your Monthly Budget

What is impulse buying

You deserve some ‘me money’ too. I think the reason a lot of people are not able to deal with the urge to buy things at random is that they have not accepted that it is normal, and they do not plan for unforeseen circumstances in their budget. I’ll explain.

When I teach people how to budget their finances and take control of their spending, I always ask them to include a small percentage of their money for miscellaneous expenses.

One time, a person asked, “But isn’t this what we are trying to deal with? Spending impulsively?” Yes, we are working on keeping you within your books, but you can only plan as much as you can see, and we do not know what tomorrow holds. Also, when you are trying to break a habit, it is not uncommon to experience slips or fall short as you work on it.

If you’ve walked or driven past a bridge, you might notice that there are small spaces at certain intervals of the road (you might want to take time to observe this when next you’re driving on one).

I did a little research on this and discovered that they are put there so that during hot periods when the metal components of the bridge expand, it doesn’t affect the overall structure.

This step follows that principle. Sometimes, some impulse buys might be good decisions, although this occurs on very few occasions. Your miscellaneous covers for this without affecting your basic needs. Knowing how to avoid impulse buying means planning for the unknown, and this basically what miscellaneous expenditure is.


We have established that the best way to know how to avoid impulse buying is to take action, and we gave some steps that set you on course. Habits take time to form, and I do not expect that you get it all right after reading this.

But one thing I can assure you of is that these steps have worked for countless numbers of people, and if you follow them consistently, you would record significant progress in the long run.

Want to take action? I’ll encourage you to buy The AfamUche Self-development Journal (Here: The Life Compass Workbook) and Planner (Here: Goal Chaser) now! We have carefully created these books to help our beautiful readers in the journey to achieving their goals of developing a better spending habit.

Save this for later! 

how to stop impulsive behavior

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Author: Afam Uche

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