Impulse. It’s a sudden strong desire to act. It’s a reflex. It’s something you can’t help, especially when it comes to shopping. Whether you spent more than you intended to at the mall or you find yourself buying a pair of shoes you saw staring at you from the store window, your buying impulses can be the worst enemies of our budget.
If impulse shopping is so reflexive and unpredictable, how can you fight back? Here are a few ways to avoid the desire to impulse shop in the first place and tips for fighting the urge if you find yourself lusting after something shiny new:
- Leave your wallet at home or at the office. The best way to avoid buying something is by not having money! I used to work downtown where the streets were lined with every clothing store imaginable. When I walked outside to take a break, I would inevitably find something that caught my eye and buy it. So I started leaving my wallet at the office, and voila! No more impulsive afternoon spending.
- Write a list and stick to it. A simple list can be a powerful reminder of your intentions and your budget. By keeping your list handy, you’ll be far less likely to stray from your original shopping goals.
- Tell your friends you’re planning on spending less. If you’re out shopping with friends, it’s very easy to get caught up in the peer pressure to buy something. Before you hang out at the mall, be sure to tell your friends what you’d like to get out of your shopping trip and how much money you want to spend. Supportive and vocal peers are a great way to help you think twice before you whip out your credit card.
- Never shop hungry. Research has shown that shopping hungry leads to more impulsive buys – especially at the grocery store. So before setting out to buy your groceries, grab an apple or a small snack to hold you over.
- Never shop when overly emotional. Have you ever bought something because you felt sad, super excited or really, really bored? Emotional shopping leads to more expensive and impulsive purchases – not to mention more buyers remorse. Remember: there are plenty of other ways to treat yourself to something nice without buying unnecessary stuff.
- Give yourself permission to walk out without buying anything. This is a hard one. You already made the trip all the way to the mall, so of course you’re going to buy something, right? It’s actually perfectly okay to come back from a shopping trip empty handed. Don’t buy something just for the sake of buying something. If you didn’t find what was on your list, just walk away.
- Budget for impulse buys. Let’s face it: nobody’s perfect. And even if you follow all of the tips listed above, impulse buys will still happen – so you might as well plan for them. Allowing yourself some wiggle room in your budget – even just $10 a week – can help you stick to your budget while indulging in your impulses once and awhile.