Impulse Buying: Why we do it and how to stop it?

If you’re reading this thinking that you aren’t susceptible to impulse buying, it’s possible you’re correct. However, it’s also quite likely that you’re kidding yourself. Like a gambler who only remembers the wins, the feel-good buzz that comes from spontaneously buying something that turns out to be a great buy leaves a much greater impression in our memories than the product that was bought in the same way but never used.

So what’s going on inside your head and what can you do to make fewer purchases that will turn out to be wasteful?

Why do we impulse buy?

Some people have a habit of making impulsive purchases. That might sound innocent, but there are a number of characteristics that go along with this tendency.

First, impulse buyers are more social, status-conscious, and image-concerned. The impulse buyer may, therefore, buy as a way to look good in the eyes of others.

Second, impulse buyers tend to experience more anxiety and difficulty controlling their emotions, which may make it harder to resist emotional urges to impulsively spend money.

Third, impulse buyers tend to experience less happiness, and so may buy as a way to improve their mood.

Last, impulse buyers are less likely to consider the consequences of their spending; they just want to have it.

How to avoid impulse buying

When it comes to impulse buying, the most obvious solution is to stay away from shopping centres and online shopping sites, but we know that this can be quite challenging. Fear not, here are five simple tips to help you control impulse buying.

1. Don’t go therapy shopping

There are so many better ways to ease stress that doesn’t involve spending any money. Shopping when stressed can lead to a vicious cycle: you’re stressed, so you buy stuff, then you’re stressed because you spent money, so you buy more stuff…and it continues. If you’re stressed out, try going for a walk or listening to music, but avoid spending money at all costs.

2. Create a budget

Most people don’t even realise how much they’re spending… until they check their statement and mistakenly think their bank account details have been compromised when in actuality, it was YOU who spent all of the money.

Creating a budget and knowing what you spend should be your first priority. After all, if you have no idea where all your money is going, how will you know where you need to cut back?

3. Spend with cash

It’s time to get old school, people! When you can actually see the amount of money you’re spending, you’re way less likely to be liberal with your money.

When you mindlessly tap your card, you probably aren’t thinking about the amount you’re spending. You can’t see it, so it doesn’t feel like real money.

4. Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Subscribing to a mailing list can be a great way to score discounts and free shipping, so in some ways, it can save you money. But if you’re prone to impulsive shopping, being bombarded with emails announcing “50% OFF EVERYTHING” is like waving lollies in front of a child – hard to resist.

The power of even a 20% off sign is hard to ignore. These signs trigger our inner bargain-hunter and trick us into thinking we need that item. And it’s hard to pass up a bargain!

5. Avoid credit cards like the plague

Credit cards aren’t inherently bad, but if you’re prone to impulse shopping, credit cards are definitely not your friend. It’s just way too easy to put everything on your card in the midst of a big spending spree and before you know it, you’re up to your eyeballs in debt. Or you’ve maxed out twelve credit cards.

Avoid that by getting rid of the thing that enables you – in this case, the card. Don’t bring it with you when you go shopping  – use your debit card or cash for purchases instead.