How to Avoid Impulse Buying

Have you ever went out to get something small… like milk, bread, and eggs, and 20 minutes later you’re walking out with R500 worth of stuff?

Raise your hand if so. And if not, I know you are lying! :)

Well, guess what, this is what the experts call impulse buying and it is based on your emotional state. These can be positive emotions or negative emotions.

There are countless factors that influence an individual’s rash decision to buy impulsively and much research has been done to better understand this behavior. Furthermore, marketers often use this knowledge to promote impulse buying in the hopes of increasing their bottom line. There’s a reason why they put sweets in the checkout aisles.

The sad thing is that many people do not admit to being impulsive shoppers, especially the women, who go on splurging on the latest trends in fashion. 

Is all impulse buying alike? No. Impulse buying generally falls in four categories. Not all of these decisions will be bad. But a lot of them will be.
  • You're in a store to buy milk, but when you see toilet paper, you remember you're out. That's a good impulse buy.
  • Low-guilt impulse buys. Think buying an apple as you're walking by a street market.
  • Boost-to-the-ego impulse buys. Think designer labels or a fancy car.
  • Instant gratification impulse buys. Downloading a book; buying a video online. "Drive it home today!"
If any of this points resonates with you then its time to look at your trigger points.  Knowing what motivates impulse buying and whether these motivators are affecting you can help you spend less money on impulse. Here are the four points to consider: 

1. Don’t take a basket or cart. People who shop with a basket buy much more than those who don’t use a basket.

2. Don’t linger. How much time you spend in a store is one of the most important factors in determining how much you’ll buy.

3. If you’re a woman, shop with a man. A woman will spend less time in a store when she’s with a man than when she’s by herself, with another woman, or with children.

4. Don’t touch or taste. A lot of impulse buys are triggered by some tactile experience.

5. Be on your guard near the register. Lots of impulse purchases are there to tempt you.

Keep in mind that setting boundaries for yourself is a personal choice, not a punishment. Deciding on a spending plan and setting a budget that allows you to meet all of your monthly and seasonal expenses without incurring further debt, gives you personal freedom to make choices rather than set limitations which you may resent. 

And remember, every impulse buy has long-term consequences. Modifying even half of those buys can change your life financially.