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What Is Impulse Buying And How Can You Prevent It?

What if I told you that you will waste over 100, 000 dollars during your lifetime? Yes, a whopping 100, 000 (a hundred thousand)! That is the average amount you will spend on impulse shopping.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies are getting better and better at making you purchase things on a whim. They will analyze your behavior and tailor the advertising to promote results. While impulse shopping is not a bad thing by definition, it is still wise to try and keep it in check.

“My mum says, ‘Go with your first instinct,’ but this can lead to impulse buying!”Lindsay Lohan

If you start spending more money on impulse shopping than you actually need, you might find yourself in a financial pinch. However, controlling your impulses when you are in the mall is not easy at all. The reason is because everything there is designed to make you spend more money. What entices you to shop impulsively? The large signs, sales, smells, aesthetically pleasing stores and staff, and the fact that you are surrounded by others indulging their wants. To grab hold of your unexpected expenditures, it would be beneficial to learn a bit about impulse shopping.

What makes us do it, and how do we stop ourselves?



Well, the number one reason behind impulse shopping lies in sales. This makes sense since the main reason we do not buy everything we want comes from the lack of money. When we see a good discount, we get overly excited about it, and we feel as if it is a waste of money not to make the purchase.

Discretionary money


As soon as you have money on you that you do not need to spend on costs of living, you will feel it “burning a hole in your pocket.” Knowing that you have enough money to indulge your desires is a powerful motivator to purchase items you might later regret buying.


If you are angry, bored, or feeling guilty, you might want to treat yourself with something nice to cover those feelings up with the rush of happiness that comes with shopping. Then your body releases oxytocin into your bloodstream.

Instant stimuli

T. L. Furrer/Shutterstock

You are walking home from work, and suddenly you smell and see cupcakes in the store window next to you. You just enter and buy them. Another time, you are going out to buy groceries for the day, and you decide you will buy that chocolate bar that is neatly positioned at eye level in every store’s checkout. Those are perfect examples of stimuli making you spend money impulsively. While it does lead to relatively minor spendings unlike clothes, you do it almost every day. This spending that will take away more money than any other type.

How can we stop ourselves from doing it?

While it sounds impossible, it is actually rather easy. We will lay out some tips but be warned – most of them include preparation before going out to the shop.

Plan your purchases and bring an adequate amount of money with you.

Instead of bringing large amounts of money every time you go out to buy a new pair of jeans, decide how much is appropriate to spend on a pair of jeans. Do not carry more than 30% over that number to spend on that.

Avoid “therapy shopping.”

Don’t try to use shopping as a way to alleviate stress. It is not a good way to do it. Not only will it cost you money, but it can get you hooked! Once you start, you will instantly want to go out and spend money every time you run into a stressful situation. This will lead to a lot of spending.


Shop using cash

If it means making a visit to an ATM then do so. However, shopping with your credit card doesn’t really tell you how much you have spent, or, how much you have left on it. It makes it way too easy to go around buying everything when you simply do not know how much you have spent. Also, it will stop you from getting yourself into debt for no good reason.

Alcohol and online shopping do not mix

This comes as common sense, but try to stop yourself from accessing Amazon at all costs if you are drunk. It is way too easy to purchase a lot of items without ever seeing them, and maybe even by mistake. Of course, you would be able to get your money back, but it will take hours out of your life that you could have spent resting, or making more money.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with a little splurging every once in a while as long as you can afford it.

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