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Impulse Buying: Why We Do It and How to Stop

What is an Impulse Buy? 

Have you ever made a purchase you weren’t intending to make? Maybe you saw a beautiful handbag and thought to yourself — I need that! Well, you aren’t alone. This type of purchase is called an impulse buy. In short, it’s anything you bought that you weren’t intending to. 

Impulse buys can be big or small. Whether it’s grabbing a chocolate bar in the checkout line, or buying £250 shoes that you only wear once because you’re terrified of ruining them.  

woman holding shopping bags
Are you prone to impulse shopping?

Why is Impulse Buying so Bad? 

When you make an impulse purchase, you can harm your savings as well as your financial outlook. If you use a credit card to pay the bill, that may make your statement harder to pay off at the end of the month. 

Sure, you could decide to pay only the minimum balance, but then you’ll be hit with interest charges. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself in a lot of debt. 

Even worse, if you end up missing that credit card payment, you’ll be hit with fees and possibly even a penalty interest rate. And that’s just the short-term consequences. In the long-term, you could damage your credit score, which can limit your future loan opportunities. 

Read Now: 7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score 

This is why we’re here to help you avoid impulse spending at all costs… 

Why Do We Keep Impulse Buying? 

Typically, people impulse buy things that make them feel good. The science suggests that impulse purchases may be motivated by a number of different factors

  1. Enjoyment 

The simplest explanation is that some people just derive an enormous amount of pleasure from acquiring something new. 

  1. Loss aversion  

The loss aversion thinking process assumes that the customer will miss out if they do not act right away to make a purchase. 

  1. Thinking you’ve spotted a really good bargain 

Ever seen a product on sale and suddenly felt that you just have to have it? This happens because our brain can often get fooled by the idea that something may be a good deal. And who doesn’t want a good deal? 

  1. The need to stock up 

As humans we have a fear of running out of resources; we have a tendency to stock up on things we think we need. This desire is intensified when we find the resource in question is available for a limited time. This explains the chaos we see on Black Friday.  

  1. Biased evaluation of use 

We convince ourselves that we will eat all the food we buy, wear every item of clothing, and use all the household items we pick up. It doesn’t really matter if we are told that this may not happen; we still go ahead and buy – optimistically. 

woman shopping online
Are you shopping for things you don’t actually need?

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How to Stop Impulse Buying 

  1. Wait a day (or longer!) before you make a purchase 

Give yourself a day or so to calm down when an impulse buy gets you worked up. Once you have a cool head and a fresh perspective, ask yourself if you’ll actually use this thing and if you can afford it.  

And – watch out for 24-hour deals. Don’t let a countdown rush you into making a rash decision! Remember the offer, save some money, and be ready for it next time if you can’t afford it right now. Because a sale will come back around. Trust me. 

  1. Make a budget and stick to it 

You need a budget. And you actually have to stick to it. A budget isn’t something magical that will suddenly make all of your money behave. It’s on you to tell your money where to go each month and then follow through with that plan. 

If it’s not already budgeted for, don’t spend the money. Yep, it’s as simple and as hard as that. You can do this! 

Read Now: Why You Should Open a Savings Account 

  1. Beware of joining too many email lists 

Unsubscribe from all shop email lists so you don’t feel under constant pressure to buy something. 

Turns out, pretty much everything is on offer pretty much all of the time. You’re not saving money by being on these mailing lists, you’re spending more. 

  1. Don’t shop when you’re emotional 

Don’t fall into the trap of letting your emotions control your spending habits! You might have a great day and make an impulse buy in the thrill of the moment. Or maybe you’re having a bad day, and you tell yourself you deserve something nice or that this item will make you feel better. 

Don’t worry, it can happen pretty easily. So, how can you fix it? Whether you’re celebrating or trying to cheer yourself up, don’t buy anything when your emotions are up and down. Only make purchases with a level head where you can fully determine whether you need to make that purchase. 

woman putting items in shopping cart
Think before you add to your basket!

Read Now: 6 Simple Tips to Help You Save Money 

  1. Get off social media 

Have you ever bought something because you saw someone else have it on social media? Ever heard people say “I saw it on TikTok and bought it”?  

The reality is that social media is one big billboard for impulse buying. Everywhere you scroll, someone is trying to get you to spend your money.  

If you stay off social media for a decent amount of time, you won’t see all the businesses with flashy sales and new products for you to spend your hard-earned money on. I’m not saying to stay off social media forever but reducing the time you spend scrolling will reduce your temptation of impulse purchasing. 

  1. Think about the last purchase you regret 

Think about the last time you made an impulse purchase. Did the item keep you happy for a long time, or was it short-lived? Did you regret it? Consider if those feelings are worth the purchase. 

We can’t change the past, but we can at least try to make better consumer decisions in the future. 

If you need help from an accountant to help you reduce expenses, take a look at our guides to see where we might be able to help you. And feel free to contact us at Count today.  

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