The area of personal finance and how we manage our budget is a key factor in adulting. Impulse buying puts all of that at risk. And not knowing how to stop impulse buying can become detrimental to our future. So, how do you stop impulse buying?
First understand what you often buy impulsively. Put a dollar amount to it. Then actually budget an amount smaller than what you are currently spending. Work to stay within that budget by implementing, waiting periods for yourself that help you minimize the chances of impulsive buying. From there, slowly decrease the budgeted impulse category until it is at a dollar amount you deem sustainable for your budget.
It Can Destroy Your Budget
Maintaining a healthy budget is extremely important to your financial independence and has a direct impact on your capability to literally fund your life and lifestyle. Impulse buying chips away at the financial wall that you are building until the wall eventually collapses.
Without the discipline and determination to live within our means, we are putting our future selves in further monetary chains, because our future self must quite literally pay for that lack of discipline and determination that we fail to display today.
It Usually Creates More Debt For You
When we impulse buy it by definition is not a planned purchase. Most of the time we have not budgeted to spend this money. Therefore, we are breaking our budget and spending money we do not have. When we spend money we do not have we are putting ourselves into debt.
Even worse though, is if we cannot pay back that debt in full when it comes due we accrue interest on our credit cards. And that just only adds to our debt making it harder to get out of in the future.
In other words, Our lack of financial discipline today literally costs us disposable income in the future. Impulse buying is one such activity that can destroy your budget and have future you bleeding money.
It Can Keep You Living In A Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle
When you spend more than you have and you are accruing more debt than you can handle, there is no room to start creating a cushion for yourself. You don’t have the disposable income to build an emergency fund or save for big purchases that will come in the future.
You have to put all your money into paying your bills and your debt now. This keeps you in that paycheck to paycheck cycle.
It also means that you might actually have to increase your work hours because you need that overtime pay to help you earn more money. Now, you are giving up even more of your time and rest putting your personal health at risk.
Prevents The Development Of Healthy Money Habits
If we are constantly falling prey to our impulses and buying things on a whim then we are not practicing financial discipline. Financial discipline is the cornerstone of financial success.
Frequent impulse buying hurts the development of your financial muscles, leaving you in a state of perpetual “stuckness.” Developing healthy money habits is an integral part of becoming an adult. Do so wisely.
Hinders Your Overall Financial Success
As adults, we make money to help us live our lives and do what we want to do. That makes sense. We work hard to earn our money so, we can spend it how we please. However, what happens when we begin to indulge in too much frivolous spending like impulse buying?
We put our financial success at risk.
Improving your financial foundation takes discipline and commitment. Impulse buying halts that progress and can keep you from reaching your financial goals.
Now let’s talk about some tips to manage and hopefully soon stop impulse buying altogether.
Create And Stick To A Budget
The best budget is the one that you actually stick too. Simple as that. Create a budget where you detail your needs and responsibilities and stick to it. But the numbers in the budget are not set in stone. They will change as you re-evaluate your finances periodically.
Recognize that your budget is a reflection of your current state in life, and as you progress throughout the months and years, your budget should be changing to meet your needs.
Remember though that your budget is a spending plan that you create for yourself. You should actively work not to go outside of the budgetary parameters that you create.
If you are like me and want to use software to budget, I use You Need A Budget (YNAB). It is an intuitive and thorough budgeting software that has helped me greatly improve my financial life.
If interested, I have a referral link for a 34 day free trial of YNAB. Yes, it is worth every penny.
No matter, what you decide to use to budget, the most important step is building one. Of course, the second step is following it!
Create A Fun Money Category In Your Budget
It is almost impossible to go cold turkey with something like impulse buying.
That is why it is smart and necessary to actually budget in impulse buying as you start to try and control it.
I have both a fun money and an unexpected purchases category that I fund with a certain amount of money each month.
This gives me a little room to indulge in an impulse buy, but it constrainers my impulse buying to the amount of money I budget to those categories.
So, I create my budgetary perimeter and I work to remain within it. This allows me to have some impulse buying that does not destroy the budget while also working to minimize its dollar amount.
Shop With A List (Especially When Grocery Shopping)
How many of us go to the grocery store intending to pick up a few items that can go in a handbasket but end up leaving with a cart full of items?
It happens to the best of us.
But we can create systems and checkpoints that help us mitigate these occurrences.
One way is by creating a list before you go to the store. You should then review the list to see if you actually need all of those items.
Then once you get to the store and start finding your items, re-consider if you actually need that item given its cost and benefit to you.
Maybe you thought you needed some more sparkling water when you were making your list but while in the store you realized that you actually don’t need more sparkling water.
That’s money saved right there. Actually, that is money saved and potential debt avoided.
Do Not Grocery Shop While Hungry
Now, this is a true adulting pro-tip when it comes to shopping for food. Never go shopping hungry! Always eat before you step foot in that grocery store!
Shopping on an empty stomach is a quick way to impulse buy and break your budget and have your wallet crying after you leave the register.
Believe, me. I have been that guy intending to spend only $40 in the grocery store but instead spending $85. It hurts to see that receipt, especially when you sit it next to the shopping list that has way fewer items on it.
So, make a quick PB&J or something and give yourself some substance before you leave for the store. Otherwise, you will probably end up buying way more than what is on your grocery list.
Create Waiting Periods For Yourself
If you want to begin to control and eventually stop your impulse buying then create a waiting period for yourself is essential.
If you see something you really want, especially if it is a big purchase, just follow a waiting period rule. There are plenty of them out there to live by.
You just have to find one that is challenging enough for you so that you can properly evaluate if the item in question is truly something you need to buy.
For example, growing up I was taught that if I want something, especially a big purchase, I need to save up twice its cost before I go and buy it.
That way whatever item I decide to buy will not leave me with $0 saved because I followed a waiting rule that had me save up double the cost amount.
Impulse Buying Story Time
To give a personal example, I decided to buy some new earphones recently. My beats had seen better days and served me well. So, when I saw a pair of earphones I liked, I knew I wanted to buy them.
However, they were on sale, so the price I was willing to buy them at was not going to last long.
I had just received one paycheck and would be receiving another right before the sale ended. So, I decided to save a portion of both my checks to cover double the costs of the earphones. That way once I bought the earphones, I would not be left with $0 dollars.
If for some reason I decided not to buy the earphones at the last minute, I would have put aside more money than I expected too.
For me, putting in that systematic waiting period created a win-win scenario that was challenging enough to fully consider my impulse buy.
Now, there are plenty of other waiting rules that don’t require as much intention, like simply waiting for 24 hours or doing a pro-con list. I just found that the double the cost rule works especially well for me.
Remember, everyone is different and resolved to incentives differently. So do what works best for you. Just be intentional with what you decide.
Good luck! You can stop impulse buying!
I truly believe in learning how to manage your financial well-being early as a young adult. Therefore, I have written a number of blog posts that help young adults learn about what things they should be developing when it comes to financial literacy and also adulthood as a whole. To learn more about what Adulting Starts Here offers check out our How Do You Start Adulting Page.
Best of luck adulting!
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About The Author
Donald Williams, Jr.
Donald is an avid believer in helping young people prepare for adulthood. He spends his time working on Adulting Starts Here and helping new adults plan for the future. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and going to the beach.