Hi Finessing Fam! In this post I’ll be going over how to reduce impulse buying.
Impulse buying is a difficult thing to manage. One moment you’re entering the store and the next you’re at home with ten items you know you don’t need. I’ve been there and speaking from first-hand experience – it sucks!
The feeling of being overwhelmed by your items and feeling terrible after a day of impulse purchases is heartbreaking. Maybe you’re buying all of this on credit? Maybe you’re taking from a special savings stash to make up for this? Whatever the case is, it’s difficult to come to terms with impulse spending. It’s even harder to stop!
Yes – you can cancel your credit cards or only take a certain amount of cash to the store with you. This is only treating the symptoms rather than the cause of impulse buying.
Close your eyes and really dig deep. What is causing you to impulse-buy? When did you first notice this or did someone else alert you to it?
My impulse-buying stemmed from a troubled childhood. It was a difficult thing to come to terms with! My mother loved to hoard. She kept everything she bought and hardly ever recycled or tossed what needed to be dispensed. Having items was a form of security for her. This trickled on to me.
My parents’ incessant arguing over finances was also something that triggered me to shop without a filter when I moved out on my own for the first time. Since they were always arguing over money, I felt owning items would save me from poverty. Even if they didn’t serve a purpose, I learned to keep everything.
I learned to purchase items that I didn’t really need but that I was enticed by. I was unhappy. Truly unhappy. My finances were a bleak point of conversation and I didn’t see a way out of all the unnecessary shopping.
It took a while for me to finally find my light. I talk about this in my post on 9 Reasons You Should Try Minimalism. If you have time – I encourage you to check that out!
With all of the background out of the way – let’s talk about how to reduce impulse buying:
1. Find Your Reason Why
This is the root. Delve deep into your mind and figure out what causes you to impulse buy. Once you figure this out – you will better understand yourself.
“80% of solving a problem is realizing there is one”.
This process isn’t easy and can take days or weeks figure out your “root”. Strong feelings may come about and tears are okay! Through the emotional pain you’ll come out a stronger person.
Do you use a journal? If you do, write down all of these feelings and all of the thoughts that surface. You’re not only digging into your mind – you’re writing down what you see and feel. This can further help you find your root!
Here are some questions to ask yourself;
- Can I recall when I began impulse buying?
- Who around me is an impulse buyer?
- When I impulse buy – what am I giving up?
- How would I feel if I stopped impulse buying? Would I be proud of myself?
These are very important questions that helped me figure myself out. I hope they do the same for you!
Summary: Figure out why you’re impulse buying and write it down if you can. By finding your “root” you can better work on reducing impulse buying.
2. Write Down Your Financial Goals
If Napolean Hill has taught me one thing it’s that in all my endeavors I should have a “definite purpose”. This can be reflected on your goals or objectives for the near and distant future. Writing down your financial goals is an important step to reducing impulse buying.
Begin this step by writing down how much you would like to save by a set date. It’s also helpful to write down the steps you plan on taking to get there. You’ll have an amount $, a date and steps to achieving it!
By creating financial goals and writing them down – you’re cementing in your subconscious the idea of future rewards by giving up short-term pleasures. The human brain retains the most information when you expose it to all the senses.
If you’re up for it – write down your financial goals and set them up where you can see them every day (also something Mr. Hill advises!). Repeat them to yourself and write them down again if necessary! By doing this you are hearing it – seeing it – and feeling it (through writing).
I’m a binder and paper kind of gal and use my mini 5.5×8.5 inch binder to keep all my goals, plans and manifestations (feel free to ask me about this). But you can use a journal/notebook if it better suits your tastes.
Examples of financial goals:
- I would like to save $500 by “X” month and I will do this by reminding myself every day that my future is worth more to me than short-term pleasures.
- I want to go on a mini-trip with my friends this year and would like to save “X” amount for this trip. If I’m to reach this goal by month “X”, I need to remind myself every day of my goals. I will do this by reading my financial goals every day if I’m able.
Writing down your financial goals is a huge step that’ll help you achieve them. Impulse buying is learned and will take effort to unlearn! So, take it one step at a time and if you fall – don’t beat yourself up! Simply do better the next time around. Each step and each shortcoming is what makes the journey all the more beautiful.
Summary : Writing down your financial goals as often as possible is a huge step to help reduce impulse buying. By repeating/writing down your goals, you’re pushing the idea into your subconscious!
3. Try Minimalism! It can help you reduce purchases!
What is Minimalism?
It’s the practice of doing more with less and living in a clutter-free environment. It means choosing to maximize your space by minimizing the items that make it hard to focus. I go more in depth on the benefits of minimalism here.
I started getting into Minimalism after reading Spark Joy and turned it into my lifestyle!
Minimalism doesn’t have to mean living with the bare necessities. It can be something that you enjoy and are proud of! I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to practice minimalism. You can make it yours.
How will this help you with impulse buying?
When you choose to live a minimalist lifestyle – you’re dispensing of items that don’t make you happy anymore. By taking the steps of minimizing your space – you’re learning how to give up material items that you know have no place in your home.
This will help you reduce impulse purchases because you’ll be prepared to buy with a purpose!
What does minimalism have to be?
It can be anything that makes you happy. The point of it is to declutter. Living in a clean and clutter-free home is essential for focus. By not having so many items grouped together, you’re making your space airier.
Summary: Practicing minimalism will help you give more value to the items you own and will own. This will reduce impulse spending by enabling you to focus on items that’ll serve a purpose in your home/life. Minimalism is not meant to restrict your happiness – it’s meant to enhance it!
4. Reflect on Items You’ve Purchased
Reflection is essential when you’re on this journey. Simply think as far back as you can and make note of the sorts of items, you’re impulse buying. If you have a category of items you purchase more of, write it down!
If you can account for items you’ve bought on a binge and their prices, you can write this information down to keep track of your spending.
It’s difficult to print out your bank statements and go bit by bit through the entire thing. It hurts! Every little tab is another reduction from your total amount and it can be shocking to see everything lined up like that.
Those items may have made you happy as you were headed to checkout but they can make you feel terrible after a couple of days.
Remember – those shiny advertisements and “40% OFF” labels are meant to attract impulse buyers. If you read “50% OFF”, your brain is thinking “DING DING DING We’ve got a steal over here!” – but sometimes a retailer will hike up the price and lower it with a discount!
This is why purchasing with a purpose is important so that you don’t get sidetracked. I’ll get more in depth on this next.
Summary: Reflecting on items you’ve purchased can help you see how much money you’re actually spending. Much like writing down your financial goals, this is an important step to see how impulse buying has affected you.
5. Switch from Impulse Buying to Purpose Buying!
Before heading out to the store, what are you looking to purchase? If you can find the answer to this, you’ve got your purpose!
Try your best to always shop with a purpose. This will help you in your journey to reduce impulse buying. If you’ve got an item in mind, you know exactly what you need or want!
When you buy on impulse, you’re going to the store with a vague idea (or no idea) of what you’re looking for. You just know you want to purchase something! And then aisle after aisle or department after department, you pick up items along the way because you still haven’t determined what you need/want to get.
When you buy with a purpose, you’re training your mind! You’re telling yourself what needs to happen and if you can accomplish this on a couple of trip to the store – you’ll get used to this.
Summary: Before going to the store, determine what you need to buy or a detailed description of what you’re looking for. If you’re able to, write this down in your financial planner/journal. You’ll be writing it, seeing it and saying it aloud to yourself. You’ll now be shopping with a purpose!
6. Reward System
Building a reward system that’s realistic and will make you happy is a huge win. If you’ve been reducing your impulse purchases in a set timeframe, give yourself a reward or two!
This can create a positive association with reducing impulse buying.
For example: Wow! I did so well this month by purchasing only what I intended to. I kept my financial goals in mind and was able to save “X” amount. I’m going to treat myself with a movie and popcorn (or insert a reward that you’d love).
Keep this journey an enjoyable one! It’ll be tough the first couple of months. You’re used to the instant reward of purchasing without limitations. Don’t beat yourself down if you trip along the way. Just keep moving!
By creating a reward system, you’ll be rewarding yourself when you reach milestones throughout your journey. And these rewards won’t make you feel bad afterward because you’ve earned them!
Summary: Build a reward system for yourself as you start this journey. By giving yourself treats along the way, you’ll associate positive emotions with reducing impulse buying.
7. Create Small Limitations
This tip coincides with writing down your financial goals and the reward system. If you can limit how much you spend by small increments, you’ll see amazing results! This can be similar to your financial goals.
Example: “This week I’m going to say “no” to one thing I want (not need). I’m going to do this for four weeks and count my progress!”
This goal is definitely doable! If you slowly add to your progress, you’ll be proud of the results. When it comes to goals and milestone, quitting something cold turkey works for few people. Consistency is key!
When you’ve completed the limitation like in the example, you can add an item. So, for the next four weeks you’ll be saying “no” to two items! And bit by bit, you’ll have significantly reduced your impulse purchases.
Don’t let the falls bring you down because we’ve all been there. We’re only human! Take those falls to come out stronger the next week!
Summary: Set small limitations that progress with time. These “small” results will accumulate to create a great improvement in your impulse purchases. By tying together your financial goals and your reward system, you can create your limitations. You’ve got this!
No matter what, do your best to pat yourself on the back during this journey. We are our biggest critics. This often comes with mean-talking ourselves until we are so discouraged, we don’t make any progress! If you can reduce impulse buying by even 10% – you’re a star!
This is a journey – one of many others that you’ll make in your life. Don’t let a rock keep you from moving forward! Climb it or bulldoze that thing! Remember that if you start this journey now, one year from now you’ll look back and smile 😊