You walk into Babies R Us, armed with a big coupon off cases of diapers that makes the per diaper cost a sale like you’ve never seen before. You buy two cases of diapers, but also pick up a few things off the clearance rack. You might not need them, but they were cute and such a steal…
Does this sound like you? It might not be diapers, but do you walk into a store to buy a specific item that is a great deal, but walk out with four other things you didn’t mean to buy? This type of impulse buying basically completely negates (or worse) any sort of savings you have from seeking out the initial deal. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone – it describes me too, until I realized that I was destroying my initial savings with my extra purchases. Babies R Us was one place I would go for a specific item and buy other things I really didn’t need, but it doesn’t stop there. As I was munching my chocolate skittles (so NOT as good as I thought they would be, by the way) as I walked out of the grocery store last week, I realized my impulse buying affects my sale shopping everywhere.
So, what to do? We have to shop, after all, even if we limit it as much as possible, it would be near impossible to completely avoid stores ever. Here are some ideas on how to stop buying impulsively and preserve your budget at the same time:
- Know the store. Know where things are located, and go right to them. Don’t browse.
- If you don’t know the store, ask immediately. Find a salesperson when you first walk in, and ask the location of what you need. Then go there.
- Have a list. Stick to the list.
- Avoid endcaps, clearance racks, and other sale areas, unless it involves something on your list.
- Go through your cart and put things back before you check out.
- Better yet, don’t use a cart. If you can carry what you came in for, don’t give yourself a cart and space to add extras.
- Be accountable to someone. A spouse, a family member, a friend, the internet… someone. If you have to own up to your impulses, you may be better about resisting them. My spouse is still making fun of me and the chocolate skittles…
- Give yourself a financial incentive for not buying impulsively. Since I am paying down debt, I would pay an equal amount of my credit card debt off as I spent cash impulsively. Now, I need to start doing that with the student loan payoff fund.
Remind yourself that if you buy something extra that you wouldn’t have bought elsewhere – you’ve just destroyed your savings in being a smart shopper. Resist the impulses, buy what you need and not what you want, and keep on saving money at those sales.