Once, an impulse buy was a candy bar at the supermarket checkout. Now, with TV shopping channels and easy Internet shopping, big-ticket items can be an impulse buy, too. Credit cards make impulse buys of big-ticket items even easier, and nowadays, we’re inundated with retail opportunities that set an impulse-buying trap.
How can we win against the urge to spend?
Get pumped and exercise your “no” muscles. Just as repeated bad behavior strengthens unwanted habits, resisting impulse buys one time gives you more strength to resist the next time.
Try these practical impulse control tips:
Just say, “No . . . thank you.”
Check-out clerks are often required to offer you a promotional item. They’re used to customers turning them down, so don’t worry about bruising egos. Are you tempted by impulse items on your own? It pays (literally) to keep in mind that stores place items near the check-out for just that reason. Outsmart their marketing ploys and resist.
Decide before you go shopping.
Even a quickly jotted list before you enter the store helps. It’s a quick reminder of why you’re shopping in the first place. Stick to your list and save money.
Make yourself wait.
If something screams, “Buy me!” from the store shelf, fall back on a time delay. If it’s true love, you can wait three to five days. What’s more likely is that you’ll forget the item after a day or two.
Strengthen your overall self-control.
Increasing your self-control in other areas of your life will also help you strengthen your shopping self-control.
Physical and mental exercise can help. Here’s one good mental muscle strengthener: Look at the word “red” written in the color blue and read the actual word rather than identifying the color. Physical exercise seems to go hand-in-hand with cognitive strength, so get moving. Continued self-control also builds self-confidence, which can help people better control their behaviors.
More reading and resources:
- The Research: Building consumer self-control: The effect of self-control exercises on impulse buying urges
- Train Your Brain: A Year’s Worth of Puzzles by George Gratzer
More articles on spending:
- Change your spending habits
- Building your first budget
- Coupon Insider: Double-check your receipt
- Expert advice on digging your way out of debt