15 Surefire Ways to Curb Your Impulse Spending Habits

Do you struggle with small impulse purchases? This could go from daily items such as snacks and coffee every time you step out to other items such as lipstick, home decor, and toys for your children every time you bump into them. 

Small impulse purchases can tear down your budget and have you spend money that would have been saved easily or invested in something more meaningful. 

A study published on CNBC revealed that the average American spent $314 per month on impulse purchases in 2022. You can do so much with the money if you stop impulse purchases. But how do you get there?

If this is a problem you face, this post is here to help. Read on for tips that people have successfully used to fight impulse purchases. You, too, could adopt these and change your spending habits. 

1. Set a Budget 

Casually dressed young woman sitting at desk with open laptop and calculator, managing finances, calculating budget, expenses and savings, making notes, having serious facial expression.
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Have a budget as your financial roadmap. With a well-set budget, you can plan for everything to the last coin. You will not be left with money idling or hanging around waiting to be spent on impulse purchases. 

With a budget, you can control your spending better. Additionally, it helps you be more accountable, notice mistakes you made, and put in place better strategies to avoid impulse purchases. 

People with an impulse purchasing problem often buy things they do not need and sooner or later lack money for things they cannot do without. With a budget comes prioritization. If well made and managed, a budget caters to the most important bills and needs, leaving little or no room for buying things you had not planned for. 

Take time, write down all your monthly expenses, and use your expenditures to create a budget against your income.

2. Take Time To Think It Over Before Buying It 

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Want those pretty shoes you just bumped into? Take time, even three days, to think about it. Do you need it? What about the other shoes you already have? What could you do with the money if you do not buy the shoes? 

Consider every purchase, be it toys for your children, electronics, decor, or even food. You also want to think about how long that item will serve you. That $9 coffee will make you happy for an hour or so. Then what next? 

Remember, such small purchases quickly. 

If you are shopping online, add the item to your cart and let it stay there for as long as you can take it. Think whether it is a necessity or just a want. 

 By the time you think it over, you will likely realize that you do not need it or that you can put your money on a much better course. 

3. Think About the Environmental Impact of Your Purchases 

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Many environmentally conscious people have stopped their impulse purchasing problem by taking a deeper look into the impact of their consumption on the environment. 

Those cheap clothes you keep buying monthly contribute heavily to environmental deterioration. 

 People who have looked into Southeast Asia countries and how some of their parts are sinking in pollution will be discouraged you from over-consuming items such as clothes and shoes. 

 You do not want to get into the details of the severely underpaid workers working in horrid sweatshops. 

 If you care about the environment and for the well-being of other people, you may want to think about how much your consumption impacts the world. 

4. Try the Envelope System

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The envelope method is a great way to physically prevent overspending on things you do not need. 

If you have problems sticking to a budget, then this is something you want to try out. Remember, creating a budget is one thing, but sticking to it is a whole different task and a more difficult one, for that matter. 

Withdraw all your monthly expenditures and categorize them into individual expenses. For instance, you can have an envelope specifically for food and put in just the amount you intend to spend on food. Do the same for other expenses such as transportation, entertainment, beauty, self-care, etc. 

 Every time you want to spend on something, get money from the envelope under which the item falls into. 

This system serves as a tangible limit and helps you know when you are about to go over your budget. For instance, if you have spent ¾ of your food money yet it’s just the first week of the money, then there is a spending problem that needs to be fixed. 

Besides enhancing conscious spending, it creates room for monthly adjustments. 

5. Make Your Snacks and Coffee at Home

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When the term impulse purchase is mentioned, many people’s minds drift to things such as clothes, jewelry, bags, decor, and shoes. Not the items you would buy every day. 

 However, did you know a massive percentage of impulse purchases falls under food, beverages, and groceries in general? 

This could go from the Starbucks you buy daily, the unplanned takeout you order when tired, or the unplanned snack you throw into your cart when grocery shopping. 

Instead of buying expensive coffee every day, buy the needed equipment and make your coffee from home. Do the same for snacks.

 Remember, if you can control yourself from impulsively purchasing small things such as a cup of coffee or a bag of chips, then you can quickly stop yourself from buying that expensive bag you do not need. Start by getting rid of these small purchases, and you will gradually get the power to stop those expensive items. 

6. Find Retail Therapy Alternatives

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A recent study by Statista revealed that 34% of the respondents had made spontaneous purchases to treat themselves. 

The worst thing about retail therapy is that it works both ways. It may look like I had a bad day at work, so I will order a pizza to help me feel better. Or, I achieved all my work targets today, so I will get takeout to congratulate myself. 

Had a bad day at work? Retail therapy. Had a good day at work? Retail therapy again. 

Find other activities that can help shift your attention from the highs you get from retail therapy. Be more mindful of your purchases, volunteer, talk to people, and find other hobbies. 

 Scrolling through shopping sites is not a good hobby if you want to stop impulse purchases. So is window shopping or visiting the mall. 

Think of hobbies that will keep you from spending your money, such as writing, board games, hiking, yoga, etc. 

7. Plan Your Shopping Trips 

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For starters, have a specific day you go to the grocery store. Do not just randomly pop in after work. 

Secondly, plan your shopping trip to the last detail. Have a list of the things you will buy prepared well in advance. 

Inventory your pantry, fridge, and cleaning cabinet, then create a list of the items you will buy. Always walk into the grocery store with such a list. 

 The goal of this is to ensure you buy only the things you need and those you had planned for. 

Going into the grocery store without a list opens you up to buying items you do not need at the cost of those you cannot do without. 

8. Shop in Bulk 

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Shopping in bulk reduces the number of times you need to go to the grocery store. If you are trying to stop buying things impulsively, the last thing you want to do is to go to the grocery store every other day. 

Plan to buy groceries and cleaning products in bulk to reduce the need to pop into the store every other day. 

Besides helping you manage the urge to shop impulsively, bulk buying helps you save per unit price directly. Items from groceries to cleaning products will often cost less if bought in bulk. 

9. Remove Your Card Information Online 

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The Statista revealed that 20% of online purchases were done because the purchase was so easy to make. This boils down to not having to key in your card information whenever you want to check out. 

Many people decide to let go of the purchase once they realize they have to get up and get their card. 

If you have your card information saved on your phone and online shopping platforms, you want to start by deleting that information. It will go a long way in helping you think whether the purchase is worth it or not. 

10. Choose Social Media Content You Consume Wisely 

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What are the kinds of people you follow on Instagram or TikTok? If it is that fashion influencer unboxing new outfits every other day, then you want to think about how their content impacts your spending habits. 

Are they redirecting and convincing you to buy what you had not planned for? 

This can go to creators focusing on aesthetic living spaces, reviewing toys, visiting restaurants, and critiquing the services and food. 

Start by cutting down on content that pushes you to buy items you have not planned for. 

Deloitte notes that retailers optimize their social media presence to encourage impulse purchases. Reduce your social media usage or be selective of what you choose to consume if most of your impulse purchases happen on online spaces,

11. Use Cash Only at the Grocery Store

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Using your cards to shop leaves much room to sneak things you did not need. Plan your shopping and only bring the money you need for that trip. 

This is a perfect tip for those who overspend while shopping on their credit or debit cards. 

This method will encourage strict planning and help you master financial discipline and prioritize needs over wants. 

12. Avoid Shopping When Hungry, Tired or Stressed

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Your physical and mental well-being is essential to keep in mind when trying to fight impulse buying. 

Shopping when bored and hungry unconsciously pushes you to buy food items you do not need and those you had not planned for. Unfortunately, these food options often end up being the unhealthy ones. 

A study done by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management revealed that hungry shoppers spend more money even if they are not buying food. At the end of their study, they found out that hungry shoppers spent 64% more than non-hungry shoppers, even when they shopped in clothes, shoes, and electronic stores. 

Therefore, you want to ensure you are well-rejuvenated, well-eaten, and relaxed before shopping. 

13. Curb-side Pick-up

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Are you tempted to pick up products you do not need at a grocery store? You may want to avoid walking into the store and opt for curbside pick-ups.

By ordering online for curb-side pick-up, you can specifically select the items you need without the distractions of wandering through aisles or encountering additional products that might trigger impulse buying. 

When shopping online for curbside pick-up, you get to review your cart before finalizing the purchase, giving you a moment to reconsider any items you might have added impulsively. This is such an efficient way to stick to your shopping list. 

14. Avoid Sales Hypes

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A study by Statista revealed that 29% of impulse purchases were made because “the deal was just too good to pass up.” Another study by Finder.com revealed that 4.9% of buyers were prompted to make unplanned purchases because of “buy now, pay later.” The study found that almost all buyers regretted making such purchases. 

Before buying anything, ask yourself if you really need it or whether it is just the sale that looks nice.

Think twice about that attractive deal before making that purchase. It will help you save money while at it. 

15. Seek Support 

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Impulse purchases are not something you tackle in a day or so. You have to build the habit gradually, and it may not be easy. 

 If you are having trouble, consider using support groups to keep your spending habits in check. Join financial challenges, such as no spending challenges, and start slow. 

You may also consider seeking professional support because impulsivity has been identified as one of the symptoms of several mental disorders. For instance, WebMD notes that impulsivity is one of the symptoms of depression, while verywellmind.com states that impulse purchases are a major sign of ADHD, and patients tend to buy now and think later. 

Do not be afraid to seek professional help if you find it challenging to take control. 

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