Have you ever gone to the store for one item and come home with a bag full of things you never meant to buy? That's impulse buying. We all get drawn in by a great deal or by finding something we wanted but forgot about. Unfortunately, these are the things that drive up our credit card balances and destroy all of our good intentions with monthly budgeting.

Getting your impulse buying under control is important if you want to live a frugal lifestyle or simply control your spending. Keep reading to learn what impulse buying is and how to stop doing it.

What is Impulse Buying, Anyway?

We all do it from time to time, but it is recognizing what's happening in the moment that can help you curb this behavior - impulse buying. Impulse buying is when you set out with a specific list of items (or a single item) and you end up coming home with more. Sometimes those extra items are things you needed and forgot to add to the list but many times they are things that seem to just jump into your cart without asking. If you were to really think about it and ask yourself if the item is necessary, you would probably answer in the negative.

How Do You Stop Impulse Buying?

The first step to stopping impulsive shopping behaviors is to recognize them when they happen. When you're walking through the grocery store, list in hand, take a moment to look at the items in your cart and to see if any of those items are not on the list.

If you need a little more help with stopping impulse buying, here are some tips:
  • Create a 30-day waiting period. Make a list of necessities you are allowed to purchase as needed but then make a second list of items you want but don't immediately need. Make yourself wait 30 days and, if you still want the item after that period, let yourself have it.
  • Avoid shopping at the mall. You can't spend money if you're not in a store or online, so avoid tempting situations like your local mall. If you need to buy something, go to the right store that has it and go in with a list - don't let yourself buy anything not on the list.
  • Take a deep breath. If you find yourself wanting to put an extra item in the cart, take a step back and count to 10. Take a couple of breaths then ask yourself whether you really need it.
  • Freeze your credit card. If you struggle with credit card spending in particular, cancel your credit card and stick to debit or cash. If you can't cancel the card, you can try literally freezing it in a Ziploc bag of water - that way you'll have to wait a few hours for it to thaw if you want to use it.
  • Ask yourself some questions. Before adding an unnecessary item to your cart, ask yourself some simple questions beyond just "do I need this?" Ask yourself if the item will bring joy to your life, if it serves a purpose, or if it helps you meet a goal. If not, put it back.
  • Plan your purchases. Whether you're heading to the grocery store or doing some back-to-school shopping, having a list is important. If you find other items you want to purchase along the way, create a separate list for them and think about them when you get home.
An occasional impulse purchase is no big deal, but if it becomes a habit you could be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars a year unnecessarily. By following these tips, you can get your impulse buying behavior under control. Good luck!

Frugal Village