Simple Ways to Stop Impulse Buying

The word “shopaholic” is often thrown around jokingly to describe those who get a high out of making a purchase, whether they need the item or not. While there is a disorder assigned to someone whose shopping addiction has a significant negative impact on his or her life, most of us are simply guilty of the occasional impulse purchase.

While making an impulse purchase in and of itself isn’t the end of the world, it can be a budget-buster. How do you stop this kind of behavior? Here are several tips:

  1. Make a List – This time-honored method is extremely effective. In effect, you “shop” in advance in your head, writing down only the items you plan to purchase. That way, when the impulse strikes, you refer to your list instead of pulling out the credit card.
  2. Wait Then See – If you see an item you want to purchase, make it a rule to wait anywhere from an hour to a week, and then revisit the idea once the impulse has worn off.
  3. Use Cash – Once you’ve made the decision to make the purchase, try bringing only cash. That way, you only have enough to buy what you planned and nothing more.
  4. Shop Alone – Shopping without company helps you stay more focused. Without these distractions and without multiple impulses in the same shopping party, you are more likely to stay on track with your goals.
  5. Don’t Fall for Sales – Don’t let sales make you spend more than you planned in the first place. Always tell yourself that not buying something always costs less than anything on sale.
  6. Beware of Yourself – Don’t shop for food while you’re hungry, and don’t ever shop when you’re upset. That is a recipe for binge-shopping!
  7. Allow Yourself a Splurge Budget – When you allow yourself a fixed amount of money to splurge, it doesn’t bust your budget because you have predetermined this amount.

Bottom line: just a few steps of behavior modification can go a long way towards keeping your budget on track and your impulses at bay.


About cozbycpa

Heather L. Cozby is a CPA on the South Shore and Cape Cod. The managing partner of Cozby & Company, LLC, Heather has the resources and experience necessary to provide quality professional services on a timely basis and at a reasonable cost. She specializes in tax planning & preparation; audit, review & compilation services; management advisory services; bookkeeping; and accounting. Her unique niche is in working with homeowners’ associations and condominium trusts, advising with rental real estate, and providing outsourced financial consulting for mid-sized companies. She is more entrepreneurial than most accountants, and offers the best of both worlds - providing the services of a larger firm while retaining the ability to connect with her clients on a personal level.
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