If you find yourself going to Target for paper towels and leaving the store with hundreds of dollars worth of items, you may be an impulsive buyer. It’s not just those in-store purchases that are testing your impulse control though. With the rise of advertising on social media and the accessibility of online shopping, impulsive buying has become a serious problem in society that’s only grown. Many people struggle with this habit and are not sure how to stop impulsively purchasing more than what they meant to.
Fortunately, you can curb this addiction by practicing good habits. Paige Pritchard, a TikTok content creator with over 100,000 followers, spoke with GOBankingRates regarding the best ways to stop impulse buying.
Always Have a Shopping List
“You have to have a list going in with exactly what you need,” Pritchard said.
Creating a shopping list is something that most people do already. Many do this in order to save time at the store and to help map out the best way to navigate the store. However, a shopping list can have another purpose — making sure you stick to exactly what you went to the store for.
This shopping list should be easily accessible. By always having your shopping list out in front of you, it becomes much easier to stay on your predetermined path and not put things in your cart that are not on your shopping list.
Become More Mindful About Your Spending Triggers
Recognize your emotional triggers regarding shopping. Is there a specific type of item, like clothing or home goods, that you impulsively buy more often? If so, it might be best to be mindful and steer clear of those sections of the store.
“Ninety percent of the battle is your mindset before you even go into the store,” Pritchard said. “Even if you have your list and go in with the mindset of ‘I’m just going to browse,’ that’s essentially setting yourself up for failure in terms of being disciplined with your spending and sticking to your list.”
Before you enter the store, you need to have a firm conversation with yourself regarding your spending. If you tell yourself you will not impulse buy, you are working toward strengthening your resolve.
Expect and Allow Urges
This tip especially pertains to in-person shopping, where stores like Target or T.J. Maxx offer a wide variety of goods, often with eye-catching signs or large advertisements announcing sales.
“Expect that [urges] are going to happen going in,” Pritchard said.
It is OK to feel the urge to buy things, as that is what the stores want you to do. They advertise in such a way that it is hard to resist buying items. The trick is to allow and accept that you may feel the urge to shop for more than you came into the store for, and once you accept that, you can begin to build habits that stop you from actually giving in to those urges.
Create a ‘Things I Want To Buy’ List
One of the key components to stop impulsive purchasing is by making a list that Pritchard calls the “Things I Want To Buy” list.
“What this list does is two things: one, it’s going to give your brain time to cool off from that emotional place [of wanting to impulse buy] to a more logical place,” Pritchard said. “Secondly, we mostly want to purchase things because of the anticipation of the purchase prior to the buying. When you add something to your ‘Things I Want To Buy’ list, you’re essentially anticipating the purchase in the future.”
Eliminating the emotional reaction to shopping that many people struggle with is one of the key ways to stop impulsively purchasing items. This list can be a physical list written on pen and paper, or it can be online using a note-taking app.
Pritchard has noticed that many of her clients end up not spending money on the items they put on this list — oftentimes when you can step back and think about whether or not a purchase is worth it, you decide that it is not worth your money.
Breaking the habit of impulsive buying is not easy. Many shoppers struggle with this and have a hard time moving forward. One of the most important steps is to recognize your relationship with spending and accepting that you may have issues regarding impulse purchases.
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