10 Ways to Prevent Impulse Buying

by Kristina Nelson
Ways to Prevent Impulse Buying photo

Have you never been able to resist a good sale? Do you always buy more than what’s on your shopping list? Maybe a few of these tips can help you resist that urge to splurge.

Impulse buying is the sudden driving force that tells you to buy something.

Stores, shops, and businesses all prey upon shoppers who don’t have the discipline to shop from a list and use it diligently. It’s easy to toss a candy bar, magazine, or any sale item into your shopping cart. (See How Retailers Trick Shoppers into Spending More.)

Even buying an item on sale can drastically affect a shopper’s wallet. It takes discipline to walk past items that have that flashy red clearance sticker that’s screaming for you to buy it.

Here are ten tips to put a stop to impulse buying.

1. Don’t shop unless you absolutely need something.

This seems almost too obvious, but stay out of stores, both physical and online. If browsing is a hobby you enjoy, browse, Pinterest rather than Amazon or a museum rather than the local mall.

2. Possess one credit card only.

Put a stop to overspending and buying by having only one credit card. Restrict the use of it to predetermined bills and use it for nothing else..

3. Don’t shop with credit cards.

Whether you have one credit card or more, leave your credit cards at home. Without credit cards, you will be less tempted to buy more than you need, which can help keep you debt free.

Skeptical this will help you spend less? See The Subtle Psychology of Credit Cards and Overspending to learn more about why we tend to spend more when using plastic.

4. Carry cash only.

Don’t trust yourself not to pull out your credit card on a whim? Leave them at home and shop with cash only. This way, you can only spend up to the amount in your wallet.

If you never carry more than you can afford to part with, you can’t make any impulse buys that will hurt your budget.

5. Make a “wish list.”

Keep a wish list of the items you’d like to buy, rather big-ticket items or smaller things that are not a need. Mark the date next to each item on the list and re-check the list after one month. You’ll often find that after one month, an impulse item will lose its appeal.

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6. Or just wait a day before buying.

By waiting a day or two before you buy an item, you can make clearer and smarter purchases. Maybe you’ll find the item on sale somewhere else or find a cheaper substitute for the item.

Or you just may realize that “out of sight, out of mind” is particularly true when it comes to impulse buys. Once you away from the item, you forget that you even thought about buying it.

7. Pray.

Some people pray before buying anything, asking God for guidance before and during each shopping trip.

8. Stash leftover cash.

Only put enough money in your checking account to purchase necessary items or pay bills. Deposit the remainder into a savings account. This will keep you from spending money on items that you don’t need.

9. Create a shopping budget.

Keep your shopping limited to a set dollar amount. Checks sales flyers before making out your shopping list in order to get the most for your dollars.

10. Shop with a list.

Write out a shopping list and use it, crossing off items as they are bought.

And don’t buy anything not on the list!

Have you overspent your way into debt?

Make a plan to get back out. Get How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have and create a debt payoff plan personalized to your budget and lifestyle.

Many shoppers love to shop clearance year round and actually make it a hobby. To keep this spending under control, simply follow the tip for creating a shopping budget and allow yourself to only spend a certain amount on clearance items.

Reviewed March 2021

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