If you’re having trouble getting or staying on track financially, check that you’re not in a “want, see, buy” impulse buying cycle. The financial dangers of not knowing how to stop impulse buying are far bigger than you think, but these tips will help!
I have a slight confession to make; here lately I have kind of sucked with how I’ve been managing our finances.
I know. Shocker, right?
Hey, I am human just like the rest of you. I could make excuses like I have not been feeling 100% – even 50% really – and was comforting myself, but the truth is that I simply allowed impulse buying to take over.
Which brings us to this post. Here lately I’ve been using a mindset of “want, see, buy” and while I’ve gotten it back under control, I realized that so many others also have the same mindset but may not know it. And even if they do, they may not know how to stop impulse buying.
Which brings us here to this post and what will ultimately be a ten post blog series on financial dangers that are often overlooked.
What is Impulse Buying?
Chances are you’ve heard the term impulse buying before, but just in case you’re sitting there scratching your head and looking at your monitor like it has grown horns and come to life wondering “what is impulse buying,” please allow me to explain.
Impulse buying is when you make a purchase – both small and large – that you would not normally make, were not planning on or did not consider before you made the purchase.
Candy bars in stores, the mobile game purchase, or that designer bag you have been wanting and just could not wait any longer for are all examples of impulse buys.
To put it even more simply, it can be anything that you look at and want when you see it so you buy it.
I don’t think I need to explain to you how dangerous that can be to your finances; especially if you’re already trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck (Six Dollar Family).
How to Stop Impulse Buying
Once you’ve realized you have a problem with impulse shopping, you can begin to work on stopping the impulsive buy before it happens.
The next step is to actually stop impulse shopping.
Here’s how you do just that.
Put Your Wants and Needs in Concrete
One of the biggest causes for impulse shopping is not having a clear idea of what your wants and needs are. If you are wishy washy on them at all you leave yourself open to the impulsive buy.
When you aren’t clear and honest with yourself about your wants and needs, you give yourself room to wiggle out of obligations or to wiggle into an impulse buy that you may not actually have the money for.
If you’re having trouble sticking to only your needs at first, it can be helpful to write out your wants vs needs and place it somewhere when you’ll see it daily. Just the very act of writing something down with a pen and paper helps to cement an idea in your mind.
Set Clear Financial Goals
Goals are important for anything, but having clear financial goals is especially important.
It gives you something to work toward.
It will also help you curb your impulse buying since you are always aware of what you and your family is working toward. If you don’t have goals, you don’t have a plan for your money and I guarantee you; you will spend it.
Having a budget planner with a financial goals like THIS one (Amazon) section can be a huge support for this.
Put Yourself on a Timer
No, I don’t mean that you should set a stopwatch for yourself, but I do mean that a great way to stop impulse buying is to impose a waiting period on yourself before you allow yourself to buy something.
Typically a 72-hour waiting period is more than enough to curb an impulse shopping habit and reset your way of thinking on an item.
Yes. It works. I’ve used this method for my own self when I’ve had to knock myself back into place after screwing up like recently. It forces you to re-think that impulse buy and 9/10 times you will decide it isn’t necessary after all.
Have Multiple Savings Accounts
I truly believe that having multiple savings accounts is the key to any family getting ahead in building their savings. The ability to not only name what your savings goals are and actually name the accounts with a goal is a great way to empower your savings.
And empowered savings is money that wasn’t wasted on an impulse buy.
and Make Sure Those Savings Accounts Are External Accounts
While we’re talking about savings accounts, I also high recommend that you make them external accounts.
This means they are not held at the same bank as your checking accounts.
Again, the reason for this is time. If you do not have an ATM card, the only way to access your money is to either go into the bank itself or to do a bank to bank transfer.
Both take time that is extremely important in helping you rethink impulse buys.
Block Your Debit Card When You’re Not in Immediate Need of It
This particular tip is another one that I personally use to help keep myself in check. My debit card stays locked at all times unless I am actively getting ready to use it.
It keeps me – and will you as well – from spending money without thinking about it. In order to spend money, I have to log into our banking app, navigate to that particular debit card and physically click the button to unlock it.
Having those extra steps often gives me the time to re-think a purchase just when I need to re-think it.
Impose a Spending Limit With Your Partner
Finally, if you’re married or in a relationship, a very simple way to help yourself stop impulse buying is to include your partner. Not only is it a way of showing your partner respect, but it also can help you avoid spending money that you can not afford to.
The way that Steve and I work together is with set spending limits. If either of us want to spend more than that spending limit, we must check with the other before we do.
We have each set out own limit so that neither of us feels like the other is trying to control the other.
He set his limit at $10.00. I set mine lower at $5.00 because I know that I personally will nickle and dime us to death.
To be clear, checking with the other does not mean I can tell him no or he can tell me no. Ultimately we are both adults and we are equal in our marriage, however, it does give give the other the chance to question the need for a purchase and to give their opinion.
For instance, just yesterday evening, I wanted to spend $16.88 on a cooler. Since that is over my own self-imposed limit, I messaged Steve. The conversation went like this.
Me: “Do you care if I spend $16.88 on a cooler? We need a new one and the price is 50% off the regular price.”
Steve: “If we can afford it, but I fail to see a need for it.”
Me: “Okay, if you don’t think we need it, I’ll skip it right now.”
Him: “Well, what do we need it for?”
Me: “I was thinking for when we go fishing, but you’re right. We don’t get to go often enough right now to justify it at the moment.”
The conversation was respectful and in truth, he was right. We don’t need it right this second and chances are there will be a better deal if I wait.
In other words, by asking for his opinion on spending that $16.00, it kept me from making an impulse buy and that money from being wasted. By the way, that conversation is verbatim and copied from our texts lol.
Work with your partner. They are there to help you.
Do you have any other ways to stop impulse buying that may help others? Leave us a comment if you do!