you dont need that 8 tricks for impulse control

May 7th, 2008

You Don’t Need That! 8 Tricks For Impulse Control

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:

  1. Know the store. Know where things are located, and go right to them. Don’t browse.
  2. 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.
  3. Have a list. Stick to the list.
  4. Avoid endcaps, clearance racks, and other sale areas, unless it involves something on your list.
  5. Go through your cart and put things back before you check out.
  6. 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.
  7. 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…
  8. 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.

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21 Responses to “You Don’t Need That! 8 Tricks For Impulse Control”

  1. I think I just started laughing at myself instead. I was shopping with a friend and we walked past a huge package of every imaginable color permanent marker for $8, when a normal 3-pack would cost a couple dollars. “Oooh, that’s cheap, and look at all the colors! (Pause…) Okay wait, what would I do with so many markers… I rarely use my one black one… Yup, Walmart almost just sucked me in. Take that Walmart!”

  2. @Amy, good story. :) I love shiny, colorful things too…but I only use black magic markers.

    I don’t particularly enjoy shopping, which I think cuts down on impulse purchases. It leads to problems with settling when it comes to clothes shopping, but in groceries it’s all about getting in, getting the list, getting out. Of course, I’m fortunate enough not to have any kids pointing things out and asking me for them yet.

  3. As I was munching my chocolate skittles

    They call those M&Ms where I come from ;)

    I have to disagree with one point specifically in this post. Sometimes I will go to a store and see a great deal on something on the end-cap that we might not be quite out of, but is something we do use. In that case, I will buy it while it is on sale. Additionally, I tend to buy snack foods when they are on sale, but I don’t crawl the sale paper to look for when that is so if I catch that one is one sale then I will go ahead and pick it up. Yeah, I probably should be more diligent with the sale paper, but meh.

  4. A very timely post considering today is one free 8×10 photo at Walgreen’s (the code is 4MOM)! I was looking at the ad and at the bottom is actually says, “While your in pick out the perfect frame and don’t forget the wrapping too!” WOW! Last time I did just fine going at llpm and picking up my free 10 prints and walking out of the store- lets see how good I do today!

    (Oh- and the markers, thanks to Sam’s I own every color Sharpie regular- and skinny, but I do use them a lot for labeling and scrap booking! I believe I am addicted to office supplies, but at lest they are useful!)

  5. paidtwice Says:

    May 7th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    @ Brandon – chocolate skittles are so much worse than M&Ms. lol

    If one is disciplined, looking at the end capds is okay. I am not so disciplined, and end caps is how I end up with a lot of randomness. Like Iced Tea. :)

    @A – I am going to go check out this free 8×10 – thanks!

  6. The hardest things for me is when I want something that I had in my previous life. Since losing everything 3 years ago, I have tried to replicate some large items and this morning I saw an outdoor plant rack on eBay, just like one I used to own. I want it so badly, but it’s not essential to my life. So, I put it on my wish list and continue buying only what we need.

  7. I find I buy a lot of stuff on impulse and I always have. The good news for me is that I’ve gotten really good at stopping unnecessary impulse buys in pretty much every store but one – the grocery store! I almost always end up buying more than I need to… now there are times when I had simply forgotten to add something to my shopping list (say Toothpaste) and I add it but there are so many goodies.

    I like your list its very sound and the more focused your shopping trip the less likelihood of overspending through impulse buying.

  8. How they set us up for these tricks of impulse buying? I love to read magazines and there they are at the register every time, a slew of magazines. Hard not to give in but it’s become a case of magazines or gas. I guess it’s got to be gas.


  9. Great advice! I used to grab a cart at Target and wander up and down each aisle. Last week, I went straight for the three things on my list, only spent $13, and wondered how on earth my former self wasted so much time and money there! :)

  10. Great post – I must remember some of those tips when I’m next out shopping with my other half.

    We could both do with a little more self control, especially when doing our weekly food shop in the supermarket.

    We find that food shopping online can reduce the impulse purchases – buying anything on Amazon is another story though, with all the stuff they recommend you “may also be interested in”.

  11. A very timely article as I have found that having a little extra money has reawakened the impulses to buy a little here or a little there. I am really going to have to focus on what is a want and what is a need. Thanks for the tips!

  12. Nice article. I go in waves of impulsiveness. Always good to have positive behavior plans ready.



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