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5 Smart Tips to Fight Impulse Buying

Posted in Main Blog
November 08, 2017 by BCCU Share on: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Woman with shopping bags



5 smart tips to fight those impulsive shopping urges.




Impulse buying is the scourge of every budget everywhere. Whether it’s small purchases over time that add up or one big purchase that you just have to have, the urge to spend and buy can be overwhelming and at times seem so harmless. So how do you break the habit and learn how to say no to yourselves? Here are a couple of strategies to fight against our shopping impulses and use better judgement.

5 Smart Tips to Fight Impulse Buying

1) Build a budget. Before you spend anything, you should know where your money absolutely needs to go. A budget will help you see where money is coming in and where it needs to be spent each month. Print it out and look at it. Because when you can see—literally—what bills need to be paid and work to prioritize and track your spending, you may find yourself less likely to buy the new pair of boots that cost as much as your Internet bill. By building a budget you can also see where you have money left over, and work in a small shopping allowance for items you know you buy on a whim. This will give you more control without spending more than you can afford. (Protip: Budgeting can be fun! Watch this video for some mystical insights:

2) Make a list. If you know you have important items that you need to buy, make a monthly or weekly list and buy those first. Tell yourself you’re not allowed to shop until the list is complete and you know you have everything you absolutely need. Don’t include things on the list that aren’t required for home or work, like that $80 video game or the next model of iPhone, and make sure each item on the list solves a problem or has a clear purpose. Like building a budget, making a list will give you a concrete idea of what you should be shopping for and how much you should be spending.

Click the image to see the five sneaky expenses that could lead to an impulse purchase.


3) Come back later. Sometimes, something you want right now isn’t always something you want later. Walking away, or leaving items in an online cart and coming back to it later, can help you realize that your impulses are not always right. Stopping and walking away will help you double check in the future if what you’re buying is what you really want. If it’s something you find you still want after some time, maybe you can work that into your budget for next month. Taking a step back can also help you see if you already own something similar or something that satisfies the same needs. (Protip: Sometimes leaving products in online shopping carts for longer periods of time without purchasing can lead to discounts or other incentives to complete your purchase, so there’s more than one advantage to coming back later!)

4) Ask yourself why. You’ve found something perfect and you just can’t walk away, you need it now! This is a good time to take a breath and ask yourself why. “Why is this particular pair of pants better than what I already have?” or “Is my third Starbucks of the day really going to help me wake up more, or am just trying to justify my addiction to pumpkin spice lattes? “Identifying why you buy could help you identify the same feelings later on and help you recognize when you’re buying something for the wrong reasons. If you find your reasons are just but you’re still not sure, try strategy three, coming back to it later.

5) Stay away from temptation. Avoid the places where you’re tempted to buy most. Don’t even go in to browse! If you don’t know it’s there, you won’t want to buy it, right? Or, better yet, leave the credit card at home. If you truly find you can’t be trusted, it might be time to leave the credit card at home and take cash with you for the things youe’ll need throughout the day, like gas for our car or groceries. 

Take our Budgeting Basics courses and start budgeting like a rock star!

Taking steps to recognize the feelings you get when you impulse buy, and building strategies to help you shop better, will help you save money and stick to your budget. As with anything, the amount of spending and saving you do will be entirely up to your personal needs and the budget you set for yourself, so it’s always best to have an idea of where your money comes from and where it needs to go. Tracking your spending and rewarding yourself when you create good habits can help feed the positive feelings of saying ‘No!’ to your spending urges and boost your willpower.

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