How to Stop Impulse Shopping

As I was cleaning out closets for the church rummage sale, I wondered why I had some things.  Shirts never worn, “stuff” on shelves which became dust collectors, things in boxes never used… what made me buy them?

During my early years in recovery, shopping was a replacement to my addiction.  It was something I did to fill the void.  Yes, we all like nice things but when did our wants become our needs or at least in our own heads.  I am more apt to imps shop during the holiday season.  Buying things for others and those sales!  This holiday season, I am determined to stay in control of my impulse shopping…

Have you ever thought about why you shop impulsively?

For many, impulse shopping or buying items we don’t need is usually a way to meet certain emotional needs.  We spend money in the hopes what we purchase will make us more confident, presentable or happy. Basically, we try to put ourselves in a better mood by buying things we don’t need. “Retail Therapy” as it has become known may help for a little while then it may turn into buyer’s remorse.

We say “If I could just get X, then Y will be all right.”  And for the moment, maybe we feel better.  Today’s marketing campaigns help to reinforce those internal insecurities which draws us to buy impulsively.  Did you know almost 90 percent of the items we buy impulsively are usually on sale?  We are easily seduced by the notion of paying less for things, coupled with the fear of missing out on the window of opportunity during the sales period which results in unnecessary spending.

How can we tell if our impulsive shopping is out of control?

Do you have credit card debt?  Do you wonder what you actually charged on the many credit cards you have?  Impulse shopping wrecks havoc on our budgets and can put us in a serious financial situation.  I don’t mean those small impulsive purchases, it’s those bigger high ticket items we buy with our credit cards which cause our debt to quickly spiral out of control.

Here are some signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  1. Are you unable to afford basic items because you spent all your money on high-ticket purchases like clothes?
  2. Are you arguing with the people in your life because they don’t approve of your spending habits?
  3. Do you feel a certain high, a sort of euphoria every time you buy something nice?
  4. Are you lying to your family members or friends about the cost of some of your possession because you think they would see it as a waste of money?
  5. Are you sneaking purchased items into the house to put them away when no one is looking?

Impulse shopping is a form of addiction, so if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an impulsive shopper.

What can you do to curb your tendency to shop impulsively?

Like other addictions, food and drugs, for some it will be easy to kick.  While for others there may be struggles along the way.  The key to success for those who want to curb their impulsive shopping tendencies is willpower and dedication.

First, avoid using credit cards, instead use cash for all purchases. I know it will be tough.  I struggle with this.  I am a debit card girl and seldom have cash in my wallet.  I broke the habit of carrying credit cards in my wallet which has helped tremendously.  Face it, is is easier charging a $100 purchase on a credit card than handing over a  $100 cash for something.

Next, if it is a BIG purchase – sleep on it or leave the item in the cart when shopping online.  When you feel the impulse to buy, train yourself to WAIT.  If you are in a store, go home and sleep on it.  If you are online, leave it in the cart and close the tab.  Then see if you still have the desire to purchase it in a day or two.  Chances are the answer it NO!

This is a big one…create a budget to help you monitor spending.  This will help you  appreciate the effect of every potentially impulsive purchase you want to make.

Lastly, being accountable to someone will definitely help. “The Someone” could be your better half, a friend, or a family member,   When we are accountable by sharing our receipts with others, they might be the nudge you need to be more responsible in your shopping.

What are your best tips for managing the urge to impulse shop?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

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