5 Tips to Help You Avoid Impulse Purchases

by Kristina Tahnyak on April 24, 2012 · 2 comments

hand through frameEven though I work in personal finance I have made my share of financial mistakes in the past. Actually every now and then I still make financial mistakes, I know they are wrong but I do them anyways.  My most common financial mistake is making impulse purchases. Whether I am at the pharmacy, the grocery store, or a convenience store I am always tempted to make an additional purchase that I don’t really need.

As I wait in line to pay for my regular purchases I am always looking around to see what last minute items I can pick up as an impulse purchase.  Usually my impulse purchases consist of magazines, gum, chocolate (before my 40 day sacrifice for Lent), and candy.  However I have also been known to pick up nail polish, batteries, and multiple rolls of toilet paper if they are on sale.

I can always find an excuse to justify my impulse purchases. I usually tell myself that it is better to buy them now if they are on sale rather than paying full price for an item when I actually need it because then it may not be on sale. But the more that I think about it, isn’t that the personal motto of hoarders?

Here are 5 Tips to Help You Avoid Impulse Purchases

– Don’t Browse Around. When we wander around a store aimlessly it can only lead to us finding (and purchasing) items that we want but don’t need.  It is always best to visit the isles in the store that have our items and nowhere else, this way we can try to avoid impulse purchases.

– Choose The Shortest Line or Use Self Check Out. If we spend the least amount of time possible waiting in line at the checkout then we avoid impulse purchases. If we don’t have a lot of time to browse the items at the checkout then we will be less likely to purchase a magazine, chocolate, gum, or any other miscellaneous impulse purchases.

– Don’t Ask the Sales People for Help. I am the Queen of wanting things that I don’t need. Sales people can usually convince me that I need anything. Once I went to Best Buy for a $10 phone cord and came out with a new $79 cordless phone.  Try to avoid sales people at all costs to avoid impulse purchases.

– Make a List. The key to avoiding impulse purchases is to be organized. We should try to go into a store and come out with only the items that we need and only with the items that are on our list.  Having a list and a plan avoids browsing, searching, and impulse purchases.

– Try Not To Shop With Friends. Friends are almost as bad as Sales People at convincing us that we need (or want) something. I love spending a day walking around and shopping with friends, but when we use shopping as a past time we end up spending money that we could have saved.

What is the excuse you use to justify your impulse purchases?

Photo by cutger

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Modest Money April 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I think this is where having a smart phone would come in handy. Instead of looking at all the impulse items while waiting in line, you can doing something more productive. For me the only impulse item that I sometimes give into is chocolate. Even then though, I can’t bring myself to spend over $1 on a chocolate bar. So I really limit it to only times when there is a good sale.

2 Shannon - ReadyForZero April 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Great tips Kristina! I found myself in just the same situation two days ago and noticed another way asking salespeople for help can cause an impulse purchase – feeling like you need to buy something since they helped you! Maybe that’s just me, but if I receive quality customer service, I definitely feel obligated to make a purchase. I’ll keep these tips in mind next time I’m walking by an interesting store so I don’t make any purchases I might regret!

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