5 Tips for Avoiding Impulse Buying

By Katie O'Shea

When you're at the store and some item that's not on your shopping list catches your eye, especially when it looks like a really good deal, it can be hard to resist the temptation to spend. Particularly at this time of year, when you may be spending more time shopping in stores and online, the allure of sales and low prices may cause you to spend more than your budget allows.

To help you fight the temptation to spend, check out the following tips:

Make a List

Before you go shopping, whether online or in person, it's always key to have a list of things you're looking for. When you know that you're looking for a series of specific items you need, it can be easier to avoid getting sidetracked.

Research Your Purchases

It's important to research the items you're planning to buy.

Think about when is the right time to buy. If you don't need to buy an item right now, you can try to find out when the item might go on sale. Certain items tend to go on sale at specific times of year. This list from Consumer Reports may be a helpful resource for letting you know when to shop for specific items. If you're shopping on Amazon, using CamelCamelCamel.com can be a good way to help figure out a good time to buy, based on historical information about how each item price has changed.

Next, compare prices for that item at different retailers. Find out which stores offer the best deals on the item. Be sure to consider whether you have coupons for that store and whether you can get rewards points by shopping there.

Doing this kind of research can also help you make sure that everything you're planning to buy will be within your budget.

Know Your Habits

If you know that shopping at certain stores causes you to buy things you don't need, try staying out of that store, if possible.

If you know that traveling down certain aisles in a store causes you to splurge, stay away if you can.

If you can't avoid shopping at a specific store or getting near a tempting aisle, try shopping online from that store, if you can. When an item is right in front of you, it can often be more difficult to resist. If you just look at a picture of an item online, it may be easier to say no to buying it.

Consider Each Item

As you go through a store, you may want to think carefully about the items you're picking up.

Try asking yourself the following questions before you put something in the basket:

  • Do I need this item? If it's not an item that you put on your list, consider whether it's worth buying.
  • How will I use it? If you don't have a specific purpose in mind for an item, it may not be worth it. Items that you can't think of a use for tend to just take up space.
  • Do I want to buy it just because it's cheap? If you're telling yourself, "but it's so cheap," you may want to rethink the purchase. Even little purchases can add up, and making these little impulsive purchases can take away money in your budget from things you might want more.
  • Can I buy it another time? If the item is not something you know you will need in the near future, you may want to avoid buying it now. Waiting to buy an item may also help you consider whether you actually need it, especially because it gives you more time to make your decision.

Keep Track of Your Spending

While it's true that there are times when buying something you didn't plan in advance isn't always a bad thing, it's important to stay aware of how much money you have available in your budget. Before you shop, you should look at your budget and consider how much you can spend. Afterward, you should think about your spending, and whether there are any changes you should make in the future.

Though it can be difficult to curb impulse spending, there are many ways to try to fight temptation. Battling impulse buying may take time but, as you start carefully considering your purchases utilizing the tips listed above, you'll be on track toward cutting back spending and controlling your budget.

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