Have you ever been to the mall with the plan to only get 3 items but ended up leaving with a bunch of items that aren’t even on your list? Overspending during shopping and impulse buying happens too often. There are advertisements everywhere we look, whether it’s on the Internet or a billboard giving us a ton of reasons to swipe our card.
We’ve all been there and done that before. While it’s okay to occasionally break the rules and splurge on something you’ve been longing for, giving in too much and too often to impulse buying can impact your personal finance in the long term.
The good news is that if we can just implement tiny little changes to our lives and how we perceive spending, we can take back the control of our money and be much more conscious about spending them.
Here are six ways to stop impulse shopping:
1. Include discretionary spending
We call this the “splurge budget”, where we essentially allow ourselves to spend a little on the fun and unnecessary stuff. This is surprisingly a healthy practice as it is somewhat similar to healthy eating. You have to give yourself some flexibility or room for that retail therapy. These are items that you might need to fuel your hobbies or perhaps books or courses for yourself.
The reason we want to be more aware of our spending is to have more control over it, but if we become completely militant to this, it defeats the purpose. It may even discourage you from sticking to the budget altogether. That said, you don’t have to spend the entire budget for this, if you don’t have anything to buy, there is no need to accumulate more items than you need. Stash this cash elsewhere or just save for the rainy days.
2. Use cash for your discretionary spending
The reason for this is that swiping a card often feels like you’re not spending “real money”. Because of that, it is much easier to go over budget as there is no limit to how much you can spend. On the other hand, if you’re carrying cash, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You cannot summon any extra cash and therefore, have no way of going over budget at all.
Go a step further and leave your credit or debit cards at home. The further it is away from you and the more difficult it is for you to get to it, the less likely you will be tempted to use it.
Paying in cash.
3. Waiting period before buying
When you see something you really want, don’t buy it yet. Wait. Let it simmer. Research has found that these are the times when most people impulse buy and regret afterwards. Unless that item is something you really need and you’ve done your research on it, give it a grace period of about a week.
Marketers use scarcity to urge buyers to make that impulse decision. For example: “When it’s gone, it’s gone” or “only 2 stocks left”. This is not our rational mind talking, this is our fear of missing out on talking.
The worst thing that can happen is that the promotion deal is gone and you get to save this chunk of money. Life goes on, no big deal, there’ll be another one that’s similar to this. And the best thing that can happen is that this grace period has just saved you from that impulse purchase.
4. Shop less often
Everything is just so enticing when we go to the mall. So how can we combat this? We just don’t go there. We change the narrative.
If you really need to, then yes, have a shopping list and head to the mall. But if you don’t have to, find another hobby or way to spend your time that isn’t shopping. While retail therapy can sometimes be fun, there are other ways you can cheer yourself up including watching a comedy show, baking a cake, walk around the park, or simply hanging out with some friends.
Don't impulse buy.
5. Don’t shop when you’re emotional
Let’s talk about retail therapy. This term initially came about upon the idea to fight the feeling of being bored, stressed out, or sad. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as you can afford it. But it’s important to also know what are the triggers that make you want to go for retail therapy.
- Why are you there?
- Is it because you have nothing else to do?
- Did you have a bad day?
- How are you feeling?
- Can you afford it?
- Are you sacrificing something else?
- Can this item wait?
Asking yourself these questions each time you find yourself splurging will grant you the clarity you need to understand your buying habits. And over time, you’ll find yourself more conscious about the buying decisions you make.
6. Remember your financial goals
Keep a clear financial goal in your mind at all times. This financial goal will be the pivot of your life, this means that it will be your priority and everything else comes second. Your responsibility is first to fulfil your financial contribution to your goals and your spending budget is whatever that is left after. Not the other way round.
Impulse buying is the opposite of taking care of your financial goals. So the more you impulse buy, the further you are away from your goals. Create visible triggers that will remind you of this, because as humans, our emotions (excitement) tends to blind us from it. Your goals will guide your behaviour, but only if you remember them.
To reduce your shopping expenses further, you might want to consider spending with a credit card that could earn you up to 30% cashback. Apply for one with us today and you could be rewarded with prizes and cash!