Impulse buying by definition means “the buying of goods without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse.”
For many of us, impulse buying is a very real thing. We go to the store for a short list of things and come home with a mountain of stuff. So how do we avoid buying “stuff” we don’t need and focus on our budget?
In this article you will find:
- Triggers that make you spend money
- Advertising triggers
- Tips to stop spending money
There has to be logical and helpful strategies to break the impulse buying cycle. I fully believe some are related to knowing who you are as a person and what triggers your impulse buying and I fully believe the other part is knowing how to avoid traps in the store as “things” are almost too accessible.
If you are like us, we want to seriously crush our debt as fast as possible and have been using the debt snowball method we first read about in the The Total Money Makeover. Paying off debt takes some serious restraint and behavior changes in the spending department. This goes beyond the budget my friends. This is about getting into your psyche to find out what makes you want to spend money and find useful ways to break those bad habits! Who’s with me?
Impulse buying triggers:
- Know what your triggers are. Do you love a good deal? Are you always out to buy stuff when it is on sale? This is a trigger. If you realize that you don’t really need it even if it is on sale, you can break the cycle. This is exactly how you stop spending money on things you don’t need! Identify what makes you want to spend money and avoid those triggers! Trust me, it works. Don’t just buy stuff because it is cheap. Buy stuff because you actually need it.
- You love to shop. Do you love shopping? Yeah, I do too. So how do you break this cycle? Well, you start out with being very thankful for what you have. I read an article published in July 2015 by Zen Habits that states “The good news is that we can use our thankfulness to overcome the urges to buy a lot of stuff — these urges being created in us by the corporations and purveyors of consumerism. We don’t have to listen to their messages of needing more things at discount (as if spending our money or getting into debt is “saving” money) or needing to buy things for our loved ones to show our love for them.” (http://zenhabits.net/cure/). I love this. Don’t be fooled by the advertising of the stores that you need more stuff. Be thankful for what you already have.
- You want to keep up with everyone else’s stuff. Yes, we all want nice stuff, but don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Don’t settle for the mentality that stuff will make you happy. Stuff does not equal happiness. People and experiences will make you happy. Stuff just adds clutter. If you want to know how to stop spending money, create your own way. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Just be you.
- You want to have better than everyone else. People have this innate desire to have better than their neighbors. Why? To prove that they are better or have more money? To prove that they can buy whatever they want whenever they want? I guess… I just question how happy that thing will actually make them. Does a possession really make you that happy or does it continue the cycle of spending?
- You feel you deserve it. I touched on this in my prior article about how to break the spending cycle. We all work hard and we deserve to be rewarded for our hard work. I get it. I feel that way too, but there has to be line drawn somewhere of when enough is enough. Really make it a point to treat yourself once in a while and be diligent to stick to what is necessary most of the time.
- It makes you feel good. Have you ever gotten this little high after you get something you want? Yeah, me too. It is a passing phase after you have had the item for a period of time. The newness wears off and it no longer makes you happy. So then what do you do, you go back out and buy something else new. Do you see a trend here?
Stores are so guilty of putting the stuff we don’t need in eyesight to get us to buy more stuff. For example, Target has the fun little dollar items as soon as you walk in the store. I have been guilty a time or two of going through the front section of the store where they sell all of that cheap stuff that seems to be so cute and seasonal. Here are several words to be very careful of when shopping as these are all triggers to get you to buy more.
- Buy one get one free. BOGO. Yep, the dreaded BOGO. Payless is notorious for this advertising. It is a way to get you to buy more from their stores. You figure “oh, ok, so if I buy one pair of shoes I get another one free.” This is great if you actually need shoes. Looking back, have you ever bought from the BOGO sale when you didn’t need shoes? Yes, because you figured you couldn’t pass up a great deal. This is an advertising trigger. Psychology today also posted about the top 5 reasons we impulse buy. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/consumer-behavior/201303/five-reasons-we-impulse-buy). Great article.
- Black Friday. These two little words make people go nuts! We as Americans buy lots of crap on Black Friday that we don’t need. (Myself included a time or two….or three…. enough about me!). We go crazy over the advertising for Black Friday and can’t wait to get the best deal for “stuff” for our kids or parents or whoever for Christmas. This is totally an advertising trap as it makes us believe that we need more stuff! What could we possibly need that bad that we have to run out to the store at midnight with a zillion other people? And are there really any great deals on Black Friday anymore?
- We fear we will miss out on a “good deal.” Stores are great at sale flyers. They send you these flyers in the mail to advertise that they have a deal only for a limited amount of time. They provide a sense of urgency that you have to buy something before it is too late. That gets a lot of us off our butts and out the door to get whatever they advertise. I know it has for me. We feel that by buying something on sale, we will save in the long run. Forbes post about this also.(http://www.forbes.com/sites/rent/2015/07/07/impulse-buying-are-you-guilty/#9fdf0525da95)
- It is incredibly easy to buy. Ever heard of Amazon? With just one click buying, it is now easier than ever before to get online and buy what you want to buy. Although, CBS reported in January 2016 that impulse buying is less frequent online.
- They offer free shipping. I feel like I am writing this article for myself. I have been sucked in to every one of these traps! Be careful when online stores offer free shipping. They are enticing you to buy. Just buy what you need. If it happens to be when they offer free shipping, then take advantage of that deal.
In store tricks: How to stop spending money by knowing the tricks
- Clothing stores create nice little outfits that look so cute. Have you ever seen a mannequin dressed very nicely. Advertising trick. The store puts these cute little outfits together to get you to buy them especially if you have a hard time color coordinating.
- Items at checkout. Yes, I know at every store there are little trinkets and candy bars and whatever else they are trying to sell. This gives you time to make one final purchase before they ring you up. The person checking you out is probably also asking you if you want one of those items, huh?
- Smells. Have you notice during Christmas that the stores always smell delicious? This is another way that they advertise per se to get you in the mood for the season. Almost like you need to have what that scent is that you are smelling.
- Seasonal things are usually in the front of the store. You will notice that there are items in front of the store that are related to the seasons because they want you to buy those items.
So what do we do about all of these triggers now that we know how to identify them? How do we make a concerted effort to stop impulse buying either from our own devices or because of store advertising?
Here is a list of ways to stop spending money:
- Recognize what your impulse triggers are. Which triggers at the top resonate with you? Whether they are emotional triggers or advertising triggers, know that they are real and put them in the forefront of your mind. If you are aware of these triggers, it helps you break the cycle of spending.
- Create a spot in your budget for “fun money.” If you have a certain amount allotted every month that is yours to spend how you choose, but you can’t go over that amount, it causes you to seriously evaluate if what you are purchasing is worth it. You should do this with cash only. Once the money is gone, its gone. Check coupon sites and consider shopping online through Ebates. Ebates is a website that gives you cash back for shopping through their website. They act as a referral site and they give you a portion of the money they make. To find out more about Ebates, you can click my link. You can also check out my Ebates tutorial. I use it for birthdays and I have been using it for back to school purchases for my big kiddo. Also, consider using apps that track your spending like Personal Capital, Mvelopes or Mint.
- Learn to love what you already have. If you really want to know the key to how to stop spending money on stuff you don’t need… the answer is to be thankful. Thankfulness will get you everything you need in life. Being truly appreciative of the gifts you have been given will help you truly stop the crazy impulse buying habits.
- Learn to use what you have in different ways. You can always reinvent what you have in a different manner or reuse it in a totally different way to give it new life. It will seem new if you can find another way to use it:)
- Don’t shop while you are emotional. This is really great advice. Does this sound familiar? If you had a bad day, do you ever spend money to feel better? I know I have. It is that natural high thing again. If you are having a bad day, there are lots of ways to improve your mood. It comes down to knowing yourself and figuring out what will work for you. If you like to exercise, go for a run or go to the gym. If you like to read or journal do that to get yourself out of the bad mood. Do anything but go to a store during this time.
- Give yourself at least 24 hours to decide if something is truly worth buying. If you are about to make a big purchase, really think about what you are buying and if it is really necessary. I have found that if we give ourselves 24 hours to think about the item we are buying, 90% of the time, we realize we don’t really need it. If you have a large purchase you would like to make and need to save some money, you can use a free App called Digit. Digit helps you save money by going over your spending habits and saving money in your Digit account every week. Digit does the saving for you and you are notified when the money is transferred to your Digit account. You can sign up for Digit free here or you can read my Digit review here.
According to Bankrate, half of all Americans have either no emergency savings or less than three months’ worth. I think it is so important to identify where your money is going and create a budget sheet to get debt paid down and build up an emergency fund.
Take the time to seriously evaluate if what you are buying is something you need to buy. I am a girl who still loves to shop, but I rarely buy anything anymore. I love to look at clothes, but I seriously analyze every piece of clothing I buy to figure out if it is something I will wear long term or not. If the answer is no, I leave it in the store. If the answer is yes and I can fit it into the budget, it comes home with me. Before it felt like I could never figure out how to stop spending money on clothing and personal items and now I feel more liberated that I can make calculated decisions on what I really need.
Learning what triggers your spending and how to handle it will be a powerful tool to stop your spending habits. Take some time to really evaluate the list above to see what seems to make you want to spend money. Come up with a plan to curb those spending habits so you ultimately have better control over your money. You won’t regret it.
What triggers your spending habits?
- Should You Talk to Others About Debt and Money
- 10 Motivational Books that Have Changed My Life
- How to Get Past the Limiting Belief that You Can’t Pay Off Your Debt
- How to Break the Spending Cycle
- Paying Off Debt: How We Paid Off $78,000 of Debt in 17 Months
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