Impulse buying: The Downfall of Every Budget and Tips on How to Prevent It

I make good money, I just don’t know where it goes!

I had to put it on my credit card because I ran out of money!

I just had to buy that (insert any item) because it was (on sale, only one left)!

I love a good sale!

What is Impulse Buying?

By definition, impulse buying is the act of purchasing something you weren’t planning to after feeling the sudden urge to get that item.

You’ll feel the impulse side of things before you participate in the buying. You know that feeling you get after you walk past an adorable t-shirt on the rack or the latest dvd’s on sale, it is that gut reaction you get when you just “have to have it.”  You didn’t know you needed it until you saw it.  Basically, in one instant, you’re ready to shove your money at the store just to gratify that impulse.

Impulse buying is a common behavior today.  Impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness. Controlling your impulse buying could help improve your overall psychological well-being. In order to control something though, one must first be able to understand it.

To understand impulse buying from a psychological perspective, you should ask the question “What motivates me to spend money impulsively?”  People who enjoy shopping are more prone to impulse buy. Once we see a product we like, we automatically can see it in our life.  We immediately experience the pleasure that it would bring us if we owned it.  We have made that ‘connection’ that retailers and manufacturers want us to experience.

Making that Connection

Once you feel that connection to that new car, sweater, or bag of chips it is more difficult to tell yourself “no” to purchasing it.  At some point we all behave impulsively in our life. In fact, more than 80% of us have bought something on impulse! However, an excessive level of impulse buying can lead to debt and unhappiness, so it’s in your best interest to know the warning signs.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you spend money without thinking about it?
  • Do you get a lot of enjoyment from shopping or shop for comfort?
  • Do you get a sudden urge to buy something after playing with it or after realizing you can buy it immediately?
  • The best way to tell if you are an impulse buyer is to ask yourself, did I plan to buy this or just get the urge now?

Financial Ruin

According to a recent CreditCards.com survey, five out of six people admit they’ve made impulse purchases. That kind of spending can range from $100 purchases (which 54% of people admit to making) all the way up to $1,000 buys (which 20% of us have done). (Dave Ramsey)

Did you know that the average consumer owes $15k on auto debt, $173k on mortgage, $26k on student loans, $48k home equity debt & $8k on credit cards? –Consumer Credit Score Climate Report.

Uncontrolled spending, included impulse buying can cause financial ruin. Too many credit cards, bounced checks, unpaid bills, bankruptcy, and so on are included on this downfall.

Don’t be one of those that go down that road.

 Debt is not good

You must be in control of your money and tell it where to go. You can do this by having a budget. If you do not have a budget, here is a link where you can set one up for free (and there is one you can purchase, too).

EveryDollar.com makes budgeting easy — it takes less than 10 minutes to create your first budget. EveryDollar can help you take control of your money in order to achieve your money goals, such as becoming debt free. I highly recommend using Dave Ramsey’s techniques and principles. It helped my husband and I in our debt free journey.

My story is my family’s journey of how we became debt-free and then fell into debt again.  You will learn why you do not need a credit score in order to achieve financial freedom. Since budgeting allows you to create a spending plan for your money, it ensures that you will always have enough money for the things you need and the things that are important to you.

Following a budget or spending plan will also keep you out of debt or help you work your way out of debt if you are currently in debt.

Impulse Buying

Since impulse spending is one of the biggest downfalls to financial ruin, we must address ways to curb your spending.

Here is how you can say NO to impulse shopping:

  1. Shop with a plan. Buy only what is on your list.

  2. Don’t go to the mall or any online retailer where you know you are prone to spending too much money

  3. Monitor your urges

  4. Cut up and get rid of your credit cards.

    According to Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein, “Credit cards effectively anesthetize the pain of paying.” If you stick to your shopping plan and don’t have any extra moolah, you can’t make an impulse buy—more proof of the power of cash!Skip revolving lines of credit, payday loans, and cash advances. (Dave Ramsey)

  5. Pay with cash and take only enough with you. 

  6.  Do not shop when emotional

    If you are feeling sad, happy, angry, self-deserving, or in any way that you think shopping will solve. STOP!  Take 24 hours to think about it, or that purchase you “have to have”; chances are you do not.

  7. Say no to revolving lines of credit. Do not, I repeat, do not ever use cash advance places or payday loans.

    They are financial raping you, especially with interest at nearly 200%.  According to Pew Charitable Trusts, around 12 million Americans take out payday loans each year. Of those who borrow, they average eight loans of around $375 each and pay around $520 in interest.

Feeling Justified?

Maybe you are having a great day and want to celebrate, and feel justified in spending money on yourself.

Or maybe you are having a bad day and shopping always makes you feel better.

Do not do it, you will regret it and it can mess up your budget. It takes time to implement a budget and change your way of thinking when it comes to money.  Go slow. Take your time.  You will make mistakes.

Embrace these mistakes as lessons for improving.

Your financial goals are totally doable. You can do this!

If  you need extra resources, Dave Ramsey has what he calls the 7 Baby Steps that will help you reach your goals of financial freedom.

You can also save money by buying what you need online and stay out of the stores. See my previous post about buying groceries online and saving money.



10 thoughts on “Impulse buying: The Downfall of Every Budget and Tips on How to Prevent It

  1. This is great! I am so guilty of impulsive buying because I struggle with impulsiveness in general and I need to stop shopping when I’m emotional! My husband never struggles with impulse buying and he’s told me a few of these things before.

  2. Amazon was my biggest downfall when it comes to impulse buying. Oh, I just need to go order one thing really quick turned into four things in my cart. Once I deleted the app on my phone I was able to curb the impulse buying. Great tips!!

  3. This is so accurate! I have over come impulse buying and it really saves money. That paired with our journey to minimalism and I hardly buy anything. Other than high quality food! And on the note I’d add don’t shop when hungry! lol that’s the only time I impulse buy nowadays. Great post!

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