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12 Ways to Stop Making Impulse Purchases For Good

If you’re wasting money on things you don’t really want or need, or wondering where all your wages went this week, you may be falling fowl of impulse purchases. They’re tricky beasts that leave your home cluttered, your wallet empty, and your brain going into full-on buyer’s remorse mode. To take control of your spending, save money, and stop you wondering why on earth you bought yet another novelty item, you’ll find 12 helpful hints below to curb your impulsive buys once and for all.


12 ways to stop impulse purchases for good. Sick of impulsive buys? Here's how to curb your spending so you can save money and have a less cluttered home

Whether you’re on a tight budget or just looking to take a little more control of your finances, the below tips have got you covered… without having to go to the extremes of cutting up your credit cards!

Keep in mind that advertisers, marketers, and store layouts are all working in cahoots to get you to part with your hard-earned cash. Here’s how you can stick it to the man and tell him to shove his impulse purchases where the sun don’t shine.

13 Ways to Resist Impulse Purchases

1. Use cash

It’s too easy to spend more than you should when your plastic friend is paying. But handing over cold hard cash? That’s a killer, so be sure it’s easy for you to physically see how much each purchase is actually costing you.

Also, only bring as much as you need ‘cause hey, you can’t spend it if you don’t have it, right?

A budget is a great way to “assign” your money so you can stop over-spending. If you need help writing out a basic one that’s also accurate and effective, check out the below post.

2. Make a list

If you know what you need, you’re less likely to get side-tracked. Indecision and uncertainty can lead to impulse purchases, so be sure you know exactly what you want and exactly where to get it. Then get the hell out.

3. Avoid the scene of the crime

If possible, stay away from stores (or certain aisles within stores) where you know your temptation will be tested. If you can’t help sneaking some sugary snacks into your basket each time you go grocery shopping, then skip the confectionary aisle completely. Limit your exposure to impulse purchases by keeping as far away from them as possible.

4. Satisfy your craving before you go

If sugary treats are your impulse purchase of choice, satisfy your sweet tooth before you go shopping. If nail polish is your poison, paint your nails your prettiest shade beforehand. If, like me, you’re a sucker for stationery, break out that new notebook and use your favourite set of pens to doodle or journal. Get your fill before your feet hit the shops and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

12 ways to stop impulse purchases for good. Sick of impulsive buys? Here's how to curb your spending so you can save money and have a less cluttered home | satisfy your sweet tooth and sugar cravings

This oughta do it...

5. Stay calm

If you’re feeling rushed or stressed, or if you’ve got kids pulling out of your arms and legs, you’re much more likely to reach for that “quick fix” item to make yourself feel better. Instead, whenever possible, allow yourself time to make conscious decisions based on sound judgement. Go when the kids are at school, when there’s the least amount of people there, and when you’re not in a rush to be elsewhere afterwards. A calm, clear state of mind means better decisions for yourself and your budget.

6. Wait or walk away

Put time and distance between you and the item, thus giving you space to make a conscious spending decision. Tell yourself you can pick it up next time you’re at the store if you still really want it.

A good tip here is to challenge yourself to find it cheaper elsewhere. That switches your brain out of buying mode and into bargain-hunting mode. More often than not (because the “impulse” part of the purchase will have been diffused), you won’t actually bother. But even if you do, at least you’ll have saved yourself some money in the process.

Also, I can’t vouch for it personally, but I’ve heard that the ‘Amazon Contemplate’ Chrome extension is very effective. It forces you to wait about 30 seconds before making an Amazon purchase, leaving you just enough time to question whether you really need the item.

Here's a screenshot:

12 ways to stop impulse purchases for good. Sick of impulsive buys? Here's how to curb your spending so you can save money and have a less cluttered home | Amazon Contemplate Chrome extension

7. Carry it with you

Very often, the time between spotting the item and completing the transaction is mere seconds. That doesn’t give you enough time to give the purchase proper consideration. Instead, for each thing you think you want to buy that wasn’t a planned purchase, have a rule that you’ll first walk around with it for a certain amount of time (maybe 1-10 minutes) before checking out. You’ll find in a lot of cases that the “high” has completely left you before you go to pay.

8. Give yourself a spending cap

Trying to completely deprive yourself will likely lead to a spending splurge, so allow room in your budget for the occasional treat. All you have to do is cap it at a certain level so it doesn’t get out of hand. For example, you could make it a personal rule that you won’t make any unplanned purchases that cost over a certain amount, or limit yourself to a certain spend per week.

12 ways to stop impulse purchases for good. Sick of impulsive buys? Here's how to curb your spending so you can save money and have a less cluttered home | monthly budget

9. Don’t save your credit card information

For online purchases, when asked if you’d like to save your payment details, don’t. And turn off one-click options. It may make things slightly less convenient for you, but if those few seconds are what it takes to make you re-think a questionable purchase, it’s worth it.

10. Think of the cost in terms of time

Work out how much you earn for an hour’s work (for some of you, this will be easy because your wage packet will tell you; for others you’ll have to calculate what you believe your time is worth on an hourly basis). Now look at how much time you’d have to spend working to earn enough money to pay for your impulse purchases. Something may seem inexpensive, but if you tot up how many hours of your working day you have to exchange for it, it may not seem like such a great deal after all.

12 ways to stop impulse purchases for good. Sick of impulsive buys? Here's how to curb your spending so you can save money and have a less cluttered home | time

11. Focus on the sacrifice

No, not what you’re missing out on if you don’t purchase the item, but what you’re giving up if you do. For every small (or large) sum you spend on an impulse purchase, you’re taking it away from something you really want, like a holiday, or a new laptop. If you’re saving up for something nice for yourself, then impulsive spending is only pushing that goal further out of reach. Is it really worth it? Are you really going to delay your big goals in favour of a quick hit?

12. Remind yourself of past regrets

Notice the things you normally regret buying, and then keep that in mind when you’re out shopping again. It’s easier to resist another lipstick when you think of all the other ones sitting unused at home, or to turn down another lotion when you loathe the space they take up in your bathroom cupboard.

In the end, resisting impulse purchases is often a simple matter of waiting until the initial wave of longing washes over you. Focus on ways to dull the initial “sparkle” and you’ll soon find it easier than ever to say no. Not only will you save a lot of money, but your home will be less cluttered too. Before you know it, you’ll have boosted your bank balance (as well as your confidence) and you’ll be able to splash out on those special occasions.


What's one item you always seem to buy on impulse?

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8 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness, I have had the issues with this and credit card debt. The debt is gone for a long time now and I have been strictly cash for 17 years. It was such a good system for me, I haven’t needed to change it. 🙂 As for impulse buying: it used to be shoes, handbags, craft supplies and stationery. I have completely kicked the shoes and handbag habit and only buy when I actually need to replace them. Craft supplies died down naturally as I hit a HUGE mental block of non-creativity for a long time. I am getting back into it, but I only buy when there is a project that needs something. I have quite a bit of stuff left, even after KonMari-ing the whole bunch and that is still able to suffice for the small projects I have managed to get done. Stationery, well…stationery is my happy place. When I go to the stores where I like to get my fix, I take $20. Unless I need something that costs more. Once my money is gone, that is IT until the next time I feel the need to go get me a stationery fix. Paper and pens are like drugs for me. As for online shopping, every website I purchase through has a “wish list”. I fill those suckers up left and right but DO NOT PURCHASE unless it is something that is needed. When I feel the need to go looking at whatever website again, I start with the wish list – usually getting rid of a LOT of stuff and by the time I am done with that, the need to buy something is gone. Mainly because I realize that I’m not really needing anything and most everything in my wish list is stuff I don’t really need or don’t actually want any more. On the rare occasions when I get together with the friends I always shop with, we have ONE RULE. CASH ONLY. Once the cash is gone, that’s it. Window shopping only. We usually spend most of our time in a cafe catching up anyway, so it really isn’t “shopping with the girls” so much any more. Beating the impulse habit took a lot of work for me, but it was definitely worth it – and it CAN BE DONE!!

    1. I’m right there with you on the stationery front (in fact, Thursday’s video will be a little peek at my planner and notebook collection). And yes, putting things into a wish list or even a basket but then not checking out is something I do quite a bit myself. It’s almost the same exact “high”, without the clutter and crippling debt. Well done you for breaking the habit and getting yourself back into the black!

    1. Isn’t it amazing how quickly the shine wears off!? There’s very little that still appeals after you’ve had to lug it around for a bit.

  2. Oh boy, I thought I was the only stationary addict!lucky for me where we live there are any true craft stores. But then there’s online!bad bad bad. When I go shopping I tend to go around the store and put all kinds of things I Think I want, and then after arguing with myself for a while,I walk around putting it all back! Yes I do talk to myself a lot! But Iam old now and can get away with it! Hahaha

    1. Oh I was dangerous on eBay there for a while. Ha ha. I have a LOT less of it since doing the KonMari Method though, but I still find it hard to resist a cute notebook!

  3. The one about “carrying it around” has always worked well for my daughter. She says: “I’ll carry it around for a while.” Usually she ends up putting the item back. I never thought of that as a strategy. Using cash helps me. I can’t bear to spend cash.

    1. There’s definitely a BIG difference between spending cash and putting it on the card. Great that you’ve both figured out what works for you. =)

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