Blue Hat

I know you all have been there too. I entered Target with the sole mission of picking up a child’s birthday present. I knew exactly what to buy, which section to find it, and I didn’t even need to buy a gift bag because I have stockpiled them lately. A solid hour later I sailed through the check-out line with 15 other items. 15! 

It started with the genius visual merchandising that drew me over to the accessories. I had time for a quick walk-through. Boom, a fedora marked for clearance wound up in the cart. Immediately the new hat was followed by socks, nail polish, air conditioning filters, a pack of Hanes T-shirts, 5 of the $1 items for kids’ entertainment, a tank top, batteries, and 3 packs of gum. Oh, and the birthday present.

But they were all on sale! I thought I was supposed to buy these items when I found them for reduced prices, right? Well, considering that my budget for that trip was $15 and my total receipt was for around $78, something is wrong with this scenario.

After that trip, I’ve been bringing it back to the basics and had a little heart to heart with myself about spending. I also ran across this article from Psychology Today on why we impulse buy and found I am guilty of most of those reasons. So, here are 5 ways to quit impulse buying:

Don’t use a card

Yes, some people are capable of using credit cards wisely. Some people are capable of using debit cards wisely. However, if you find your impulse buying soaring, quit using cards altogether. Cash is king and it will keep you focused on your task if you only have a certain amount of cash to spend with each shopping trip.

Don’t shop when you are less than 100%

Don’t go to the store or run errands when you are tired, stressed, having a bad hair day, or otherwise less than your normal self. Logic flies right out the window when we go to the grocery store hungry, or enter the Walgreens beauty section on a bad hair day. Inevitably unnecessary objects will be purchased and while they might provide a short term satisfaction, our long term objective of saving money is compromised.

 Bring a list

Okay, so maybe you absolutely have to swing by the store to grab milk and eggs. Write it down! Don’t even enter the store without a tiny piece of paper or your phone list. When you find yourself wandering down an aisle and get distracted by the BOGO snacks, just check your list. If it’s not on there, walk away.

 Walk away

Nearly every financial expert advises on a 30 day rule. That certainly applies to big purchases, but a shorter time would work for smaller purchases as well. Take 30 minutes at least before buying that item that isn’t on the list. Chances are really good you can live without it and will even forget about it after a few hours.

Put impulse buying in your budget


As counterintuitive as it might sound, allowing yourself some extra money to spend freely can keep you in your budget. Think of it like dieting – the more restrictive you are, the more tempting the “off-limits” items sound, right? Instead, give your self the go-ahead with a modest amount of money that can disappear on the impromptu lunch out with a friend or that clearance tank top.

The truth is, if I had just stopped with the fedora it would have been okay. However, since I wasn’t able to reign it back in after that, it was time to take an honest look at how I shopped. These 5 ways to quit impulse buying might leave your cart a bit emptier at checkout, but your bank account is sure to grow!