10 Smart Tips to Stop Impulse Buying

So you’re walking around the mall for no apparent reason and see a nice pair of shoes. You know you don’t really need another pair but you’re bored and you buy it anyway. Then you come home and realize you have a very similar pair of shoes that you haven’t even worn yet.

Related article: 33 Sure Signs Of A Hard Core Shopaholic!

Welcome to impulse shopping. Here are ten tips to stop the impulse buying habit, and get your budget back on track.

1. Set a Miscellaneous Shopping Budget

Credit Card Shopping

If you find yourself regularly overspending each month, check your accounts and determine by how much. If you go over by about $100 each month, modify your budget to make up for it. Take out a hundred bucks from your account to use as spending money,

Just like with a diet, going “cold turkey” doesn’t work. And like the “nibble here and there won’t affect your weight” mentality, spending a few dollars here and there for things you don’t necessarily need does add up.

Budget for the miscellaneous and you won’t be surprised at the end of the month.

Don’t have a budget? Here’s How to Create a Zero-Sum Budget, a cool way to make sure every dollar you earn is accounted for.

2. Don’t Shop While You’re Hungry

Grocery Shopping

If you’ve ever been at a mall or grocery store when your stomach is growling, you’ll know that one of the best ways to mindlessly spend money is when you’re hungry. Suddenly, walking past the bakery or an Auntie Anne’s is pure torture, and you just have to treat yourself.

Make sure that you eat before heading out, or at least bring a few snack bars with you.

3. Don’t Go Window Shopping While Bored

Window shopping

If shopping is your favorite hobby, find a new one. Only go to a mall or store when you have something specific at a particular store that you need to buy.

Going to the mall to “window shop” when you’re bored or have free time isn’t the best way to spend time for you or your bank account. If you just go to look at nice things that you may want, be sure to think ahead and plan these purchases in your budget for the next few months. Not only does this allow you to stick to your planned spending, but it also gives you time to see if you really need or want something, or if you’re buying out of boredom.

4. Avoid Buying Stuff When You’re Overly Emotional

How To Stop Overspending

While some people like to celebrate happy occasions or good news with a good meal, others might celebrate by spending lots of money and regretting it later.

When you’re happy or over emotional, your rational side is overtaken by your emotions, making you more likely and more willing to buy things on the spot. The same goes for the opposite side of the emotional spectrum.

Related article: The Scientific Reason Behind Why Money Makes Us Happy

When you’re sad or feeling blue, you may be more inclined to cheer yourself up by buying things you don’t need. Think of the cliche breakup ice cream tub scenario – to compensate for feeling down, you might try to binge eat your feelings. The same goes for emotional spending!

5. Feel the Spending Urge? Disconnect

Stop Shopping

Physically avoiding stores when you’re in the mood to buy things isn’t enough. You may want to disconnect from an internet connection so that you don’t visit eBay, Amazon, or any other online retailer from your computer or smartphone.

If that sounds extreme, consider not keeping your PayPal or credit card information handy when you’re online so that buying something takes more effort and time. Don’t allow auto-fill to fill out your financial information, or Amazon’s 1-click shopping to make splurging just a tap away.

The time it takes you to get up and find your credit card may be enough time to really consider if what you’re buying is necessary and within your budget.

6. Ask Yourself These Questions First

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Before whipping out your cash or credit card, take five minutes to ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly.

  • Is it a want or a need?
  • Can I afford it within my budget?
  • Are there any other upcoming purchases that are more urgent?
  • Can it wait until next month?
  • If it’s too expensive, will it go on sale soon?
  • Will it improve my life? How?

We’ve put together 16 Ways to Trick Yourself into Not Spending Money, with some excellent tips on what to do before shopping temptation.

7. Prioritize Your Spending

Save Money

If your budget allows some leeway for leisurely spending, make sure you prioritize your purchases. For example, what is more important this month? Buying a new washing machine, or upgrading your (already new-ish) smartphone?

Choosing between purchases is a smart way to stick to your budget while avoiding spending your money impulsively.

8. Make a Shopping List for Everything

Shopping List

There’s no room for “YOLO” each and every time you’re at the store. If you’re going to a store to buy something, make a list of things you are buying beforehand, and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list.

If you see something you like, create a new list for the next time you go to the store. This prevents you from buying it on the spot and gives you time to see if you really want it, and can afford it.

9. Take a Walk Before Ever Saying “Yes”


Don’t be intimidated or feel pressured by the salesperson that went out of his way to help you at a store. That’s their job.

When you catch yourself with an urge to buy something that isn’t in your planned purchases list and budget, take a walk. Politely tell the salesperson you’ll think about it. Go outside to give yourself the time to think about the purchase without the salesperson around.

This will not only calm that urge down, but will help you focus on your budget, and analyze whether buying it is a good idea or not.

10. Give Away Something Old Before Buying Something New

Clothes Swapping

Not only will giving away one item before you bring home a new one help de-clutter your life, it will remind you exactly how much already you have. It may also show you how much you may not really need that new item after all.

This is true especially for clothing. Taking a survey of your closet once in awhile will remind you that you don’t really need that new pair of shoes or that dress because you already have something similar. If not that, maybe you’ll realize that you can upcycle the item, or find a new way to style it.

As with everything, stopping a impulse buying trend comes down to changing your habits. First, set up a budget with a little wiggle room for small splurges. Second, learn to change when and why you shop, and always be prepared with a list and a purpose. You don’t have to quit shopping entirely, but you do have to take the “impulse” out of the equation!

33 Sure Signs Of A Hard Core Shopaholic!

If your version of heaven involves retail therapy amidst elevator music sung by angels and a pocket full of unlimited credit, you may be a member of Shopaholics Anonymous. Find out if your photo is in the hallowed halls of the most-likely-to-spend by checking out these 33 signs that you’re a shopaholic.

1. This is how you react when someone mentions the word shopping.


2. You consider shopping a daily workout

shopping (1)

Since shopping is a physically demanding sport, you’re not lying when you tell your doctor that you work out a minimum of seven days a week.

3. Shopping isn’t a game, it’s a sport


You firmly believe that shopping is a sport like football, and you suspect that it’s the national sport. After all, what is it that rakes in millions during the Super Bowl? Commercials to buy more stuff, of course!

4. Items show up in your closet you don’t remember buying


Okay, maybe you vaguely remember purchasing that bright purple scarf and those neon orange sandals, but the memory is a bit fuzzy.

Related article: 5 Things in Your Closet You Shouldn’t Be Blowing Money On 

5. Many of your purchases are unnecessary, but so what?


Whose business is it anyway that you bought a boat cleaning kit when you don’t have a boat? How do all those naysayers know that you won’t be getting a boat next week?

6. Shoes to match every individual outfit are absolutely mandatory

Shopaholic 3

You want to look your best, don’t you?

7. A walk-in closet is a must-have


Never mind that it’s so stuffed you can no longer actually walk into it. The fact that you have one is all that matters.

8.  You have enough price tags attached to unused merchandise…


That you could use them to wallpaper your entire bathroom.

9. The stockpile has it’s own domain


A spare room for stockpiling your purchases is at the top of your list when you shop for a new home or rent another apartment. You already have store-like shelving arranged to be installed. It’s sort of like an extreme couponer’s stockpile, minus the coupons.

10. You’re an expert at rationalizing each and every purchase

Shopping Economy

Explaining the necessity of owning eight different iPhone cases is a snap for you.

11.  Your entryway closet and child’s room serve as overflow sites…

For all that extra carefully chosen merchandise.

12. You easily brush off the haters

Shoes Quote

You’re a master at ignoring Grandma’s frown of approval and tisk-tisking when she sees your latest new wardrobe.

13. What, no. These aren’t new… No, really!

You find yourself immediately denying it when someone asks if you’re wearing another new pair of shoes. It may be a sign that you’re an addict, and there might be an article on how to stop the overspending habit, but you don’t have to read it.

14. Needs and wants are one and the same


You refuse to fall prey to semantics. You need and want that gorgeous vase for your living room. No reason to debate the meaning of the words!

15. Every day is a rainy day…


That means stocking up on anything and everything, and feeling ultra-virtuous and prepared while doing so!

16. You’ve got 4-5 backup credit cards…

Credit Card Shopping

And often find yourself sorting through the stack at Nordstrom’s checkout counter.

17. And they’re all maxed out

Your credit cards tend to be maxed out or nearly maxed out from your spending sprees—but hey, isn’t that what they’re for? After all, they keep increasing your limit!

If you get a few minutes between swiping the plastic, read The 3 Best Credit Cards For People Who Carry A Balance.

18. You’re already showing signs of addiction

Shoes Quote 2

Daily shopping of some sort is required to feel perky and at your best. You tend to get quite cranky and anxious if you don’t buy something at least once a day.

19. You are convinced that advertising is an art form

What could be more meaningful or moving than a commercial about a sale at Sears or JC Penney?

20. You get snarly when people suggest that your shopping might be a little out of hand

Side Hustle Ideas

How dare they bring up the fact that you haven’t paid your share of the rent or mortgage just because you bought a new pair of Manolos and a matching Hermes bag?

21. Life without shopping options is no life at all


The idea of getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no shopping possibilities or internet reception sounds like pure torture. To those poor souls living out in rural Anytown, USA, you’re praying for them.

22. You reminisce about your first shopping high

Mini Shopaholic

You can still remember the first time you bought something and the thrill that zipped through your veins.

23. People in your life drive you to shop

It’s your mom’s fault that you bought your 20th black sweater recently. If she hadn’t been nagging you that day, you probably wouldn’t have found yourself so upset that you had to shop just to calm down.

24. You can spot a fellow shopaholic a mile away

Shopaholic 2

As long as you don’t start fighting over the last lemon-scented candle on the shelf, you’re likely to become fast friends.

25. National Shopping Day = Christmas

If they proposed a national holiday for shoppers, you’d be the first person to sign the petition.

26. First rule of Black Friday…


You’re not proud of yourself, but you have been known to experience altercations with other shoppers on Black Friday. And maybe you got a few swings in…

27. Your money evaporates like water


Money seems to slip effortlessly from your wallet and checking account. You plan on contributing to an emergency fund—right after this shopping season.

28. Non-shoppers don’t know what they’re missing

Shopping Sticker

You are convinced that frugal-minded savers have no idea the nirvana they are missing.

29. Internet has revolutionized the way you shop

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The best part about the invention of the internet is the fact that the world has become one giant mall. (And the stores NEVER close!)

30. Dream job: Professional Shopper

Side Hustle Ideas

Doing what you love and getting paid for it so you can do more of what you love would be a dream come true.

This is a legit, and totally doable job if you’re really interested in becoming a personal shopper. Learn about it in our article about side hustles for the scrappy.

31. The “other” shopping bags are brought in in the dark of night

If anyone is at home when you come back from a shopping binge, you tend to not bring all of the bags in at once. Instead, you sneak back out for the rest in the dead of night when everyone is sleeping.

32. It’s impossible to say no to a bargain

Shopping Sale

So what if you already bought a set of dishware last month. The one right in front of you is half-off! You’ll invite over a lot of company to use it. Party!

33. You read all the way through this article

Either you recognize yourself or someone you know, you made it all the way to the end. Maybe you’ve nodded to more than a handful of these signs, even recalled yourself taking some of these drastic measures. Whatever your take, we all have at least a little bit of shopaholic in us!