Tips for Putting an End to Your Impulse Purchasing

woman using a credit card for online shopping
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You’ve been spending a lot of money lately, and you don’t really have much to show for it. Whether it’s the ease of online shopping, the issue of buying things not on your list at the store or both, you’ve realized your impulse spending is out of control.

Recognizing the problem is a huge step, so now that you’ve done that, you’re already on the right path. You can turn this expensive habit around if you’re committed to making changes.

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One of the most important ways to achieve this is understanding the root cause of your impulse buying, according to Shang Saavedra, a financial coach and founder of Save My Cents.

“For example, many people often impulse purchase take-out and beverages, because they are tired and unprepared,” Saavedra said. “A root way to address the issue can include setting aside time every week to stock up on snacks and drinks at the grocery store, and packing them into one’s day bag, so that impulse snack purchases do not happen.”

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She also advised looking for patterns with people or sources that encourage you to impulse shop and removing them. This could be another shopaholic friend, an online influencer or emails you’re subscribed to.

“Unsubscribe or mute those sources of influence,” Saavedra said.

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Another option she suggested is embarking on a no-spend challenge, where you challenge yourself not to make an impulse purchase for at least a week — preferably a month.

“This is a great way to identify when you are most tempted to spend, see if there are any patterns to it and also track how much money you are saving, which is very motivating,” Saavedra said.

You should also consider taking a step back and evaluating any actions you’ve already taken to change your impulse spending, said Hannah Morrell, a financial coach at Pacific Stoa.

“After you’ve assessed which strategy you’re currently using, evaluate how well it’s working,” Morrell said. “I need to make it very clear that I’m not asking how well you are using the strategy — I’m asking how the tool itself is working.”

Related: How To Get Your Online Shopping Habit Under Control

She emphasized the importance of evaluating the strategy, not yourself, because if the tool isn’t working, you’re likely setting yourself up for failure.

In addition to finding a strategy that keeps you from impulse shopping, you’ll also need a budget to steer your spending.

“Creating a budget can help guide your financial decisions in general, but especially in times of unexpected financial turbulence,” said Angela Holliday, president of Frost Brokerage Services, Inc. and Frost Investment Services, LLC. “At the end of the process, you’ll realize the shape you’re in and have a roadmap to reference as to where you are in your planned journey.”

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She also recommended tracking your spending as a way to monitor your impulse shopping.

“Make sure you are tracking how much you spend as you go,” Holliday said. “It can be easy to get carried away and stray from your plan, but by tracking your spending, you set guardrails for yourself.”

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Additionally, she said finding an accountability buddy can be a helpful way to stop your impulse spending if you’re not sure you can do it on your own.

“Talk through your goals together and write them down,” Holliday said. “Having a team can be helpful to keep each other accountable and motivated.”

Kicking your impulse spending might not be easy at first, but adopting these healthy habits will help you overcome it, so you can improve your financial health.

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Last updated: May 21, 2021

About the Author

Laura Woods is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She specializes in a variety of topics, including marketing, personal finance, entertainment and lifestyle. Her work has been featured on dozens of sites, including HuffPost, CNBC, Business Insider, Nasdaq, MSN, Yahoo, Fortune, Inc., Entrepreneur and POPSUGAR. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.

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