4 Ways To Curb Impulse Spending

image description

According to a survey, 75% of Americans make impulse purchases. The other 25% are probably fibbing.

Okay, maybe we don’t all make impulse purchases, but the urge to spend can affect just about everyone. There are always moments of temptation – and that obviously affects the budget.

It turns out that impulse buyers have a few tendencies in common: they’re more likely to purchase to maintain appearances; they struggle to control their emotions; and they find it difficult to ignore temptation. They don’t experience happiness in traditional ways and look to purchases for happiness.

The issue of impulse buying may be getting worse. 83% of Millennials are impulse shoppers. These young folks are very likely to make an impulse purchase when they get their paycheck. The money is burning a hole in their pocket and they can’t wait to cut down on their want list.

Making purchases make some people feel powerful and happy… at least in the short-term. But the long-term impacts of impulse purchases, especially those that take someone into debt, can have lasting impacts on both physical and mental health.

How to Stop Impulsive Spending

If you want to cut down on your impulse spending, here are some tips:

Freeze Your Credit Cards


Some people have gone to the extreme of putting their credit cards in a bowl of water and then putting the bowl in the freezer. The cards freeze at the bottom of a large ice block. When the impulse to purchase comes the person needs to remove the bowl of ice and really work to melt the ice and get the cards.

It forces a buyer to take time to think and consider the purchase. (Do you really need that quad-copter? Will you feel the same way in 5 hours when your ice-block melts?) That’s often all that’s needed to determine if you really need the item you covet in the moment.

Ask Mom For An Allowance

Remember when you were a kid and you really wanted to buy something? It could have been something simple like a sweet treat or a toy.

You’d go to your mom to see if she would give you money to purchase the item and she would probably make you think whether you really needed the item or if it was just something you really wanted right that second.

Give your credit card to someone you trust. It could be your mom, it could be your spouse, or even a close friend. Give it to someone that has your best interests at heart.

When you feel the urge to buy something, go to them to plead your case. They can help you determine whether this is a reasonable purchase or if it may be something you come to regret.

Go Incognito

Another struggle with credit cards is that you don’t even need the physical card to make your purchase. If you make purchases online, you know that your card information is stored in your online accounts.

Activate private browsing on your computer as default. In some browsers, it’s known as “incognito” mode. When you’re browsing in private, your information is not stored and your browsing history won’t be recorded. This makes it impulse purchasing more cumbersome and minimizes history-based ad targeting. Tired of being reminded of that new gadget you looked at? Go incognito.

Go a step further by using online stores as a guest. Don’t create an account or save your credit card information.

It’s too much of a temptation, but if you get in the habit of going incognito you’ll have to type in your card information every time you have an urge and that can be enough time to really reconsider the purchase.

Unsubscribe From Retail Emails, Catalogs, Etc.

Marketing messages are designed to create the urge to impulse buy. If you’ve made online purchases, you probably had to give the retailer your email address, and you’re probably getting lots of messages practically begging you to purchase.

Hit the “unsubscribe” button, or use a tool like Unroll.Me to go on a mass-unsubscribe mission.

It’s a simple “Out of sight, out of mind” trick and it works.

Impulse Spending FAQs

What are common examples of impulse spending?

Purchases such as buying candy at the checkout line, buying clothing or shoes, groceries or food, meal delivery or takeout, toys for kids, home décor and improvement items, tech gadgets and other electronic entertainment systems, jewelry, and more. Almost anything can become an impulsive buy if you don’t need it and the purchase was unplanned.

Should I wait before making a potential impulse purchase?

Yes. If a potential purchase has really caught your attention, one of the best things you can do is wait on it to see if you still feel like making that purchase after thinking on it for a few days (or longer). 24-hour sales try to avoid giving you the time to think about the purchase by forcing you into making a decision within a day, but the best solution is often to simply wait it out.

Moral Of The Story: Build Habits That Reduce Impulse Spending

This is all about understanding your own habits and knowing that you can change them. It takes time to get in the habit of impulse buying and it can take just as much time to get out of those habits, but it can be done.

Each of the items above can work to build new spending habits. You can still spend, but you’ll have time to prioritize.

Struggling with debt? You’re not the only one. Visit our Success Stories where our clients discuss how they felt after working to settle and reduce their debt.