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Your Take: How Do You Combat Impulse Buying?

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To help combat impulse buying, j_stack shared his tip on Reddit:

To curb my impulse online shopping tendencies, I use Amazon wishlist instead of dumping everything in my shopping cart. I leave the item in there for a month or two, and come back to it later to see if I really want it. I almost never still want the item, and if I do still want it, I’ll know it’s something I’d really like to have.

edit: If I decide I don’t love something enough to ever buy it, I’ll nix it from the list, but the stuff that I stay on the fence about for a while can sit in my cart for almost a year. Then it becomes my christmas list.

This is the digital equivalent of waiting a day before you buy something you like and it’s a good tip.

I’m fortunate in that I don’t buy things impulsively but what I do, sometimes, is order food impulsively. That is to say, I’m sitting in a restaurant, I’m hungry, and I think about ordering an appetizer before my meal. The way I combat that is I first make sure I drink some water and then I think about whether I’d really enjoy the appetizer. Will I be kicking myself when I go for a run tomorrow? Does the place do a good job making it? Then, I picture myself then having to wait even longer, albeit partially satiated, for my entree. Oftentimes, as funny as it sounds, that’s usually enough pondering that I opt to skip the appetizer. The only time it doesn’t work is if I wanted it before I went to the restaurant (for example, this local Italian place makes great calamari), but then I suppose it’s not impulse. :)

What do you do to combat impulse buying?

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14 Responses to “Your Take: How Do You Combat Impulse Buying?”

  1. I don’t tend to impulse buy. However, when I am tempted, my strict policy of running it my my wife many times will curb the purchase. Either she doesn’t want to discuss it or she asks if we really need it and that eventually leads to no sale.

  2. I think the best remedy to impulse buying is to work toward understanding that acquiring and owning ‘stuff’ is unrelated to happiness or quality of life. Read up on ‘hedonistic adaptation’ to learn more.

  3. I never buy things the first time I see/want them. If I still want them in a few months, then I generally buy them if they’re in my budget.

  4. Christian L. says:

    Jim,
    I have an unorthodox approach to avoiding impulse buying: I get as close as possible to making the purchase and then I bail.

    It started when I decided to cut back on sweets. I’d pick up a candy bar, stare at it, read the nutrition facts, look at the price and put it down. I was just turned off by it.

    So now I can do that with almost any product, even online as long as I go through a few steps before the checkout is confirmed.

    It’s weird, but it works for me.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  5. admiral58 says:

    Very tough to curb. A lot of will power needed

  6. fabclimber says:

    Before buying impulse items I try to carefully consider if I will really get use out of the purchase. Sometime the use is limited, but it would serve me well for a few years so I’ll go ahead. I also try to buy good quality items, and that tends to limit my purchase quantities because the prices will be higher.

  7. bloodbath says:

    I allow for impulse shopping – so I don’t feel deprived. My financial life is pretty much automated – direct deposit, bill payment and savings are done within my intervention. I keep several savings/checking accounts and my impulse dollars has its own I do not go over the limit because it will trigger an account overdrawn status which will embarass me at the bank.

  8. Karen says:

    I use my Amazon shopping cart, rather than the wishlist. But the same idea.

  9. I tend to have a list of items I want but need to save for. Since the list can sometimes get long it is easy for me to justify not purchasing something knowing that it will take longer for me to save for the items I really want.

  10. Shirley says:

    Impulse buying for me is usually when an item is on sale. I create a shortcut to it (online) or list it on my shopping list (notepad) and keep it in a folder called ‘pending’ on my desktop. If I haven’t taken action on it by the time the sale is over, I didn’t really need it anyway. ;-)

  11. daenyll says:

    wishlists, and always walk away and come back for a second look if it’s not something i absolutely need. I a research type, i want to know as much about it as possible and see if there’s something similar/better for less.

  12. SLS says:

    To combat in-store impulse purchases I often put the item(s) in the cart and walk around with it, thinking about it – in the back of my mind – while I shop for the other things I need. Then right before getting to the check out area I look through what I’ve picked up and ask if I really need it and where it would go if I brought it home. This usually is enough to stop me from buying it.

  13. Jose says:

    I usually ask my self the “hard” question,
    Is this a need or a want”? Generally it always comes up as a a “want”. If that’s the case I can generally walk away from the purchase and give myself some breathing room to think about it, unless it involves chocolate, in which case it’s game over for me :) .

  14. Shafi says:

    I think impulse shopping deals with the personality of those humans who do. Marketer and stores play with customers’ minds. They know how to screw them up. Some folks are just purely resistant to their tactics, others mellow down and buy items that they don’t even need.


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