March Makeover/Shopping Smart

15 Women On The Specific Ways They Curb Their Impulse Spending

By | Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Every time I hit my avoid-impulse-spending stride, I cruise along happily for a while, and then end up buying okra chips and yogurt-covered pretzels at the grocery store (the impulsive side of me has bougie taste in snacks, apparently). While I rarely buy clothes or accessories impulsively (or at all, for that matter), I am definitely someone who impulse buys food. My eyes are very much bigger than my stomach at the grocery store, or in any specialty shops (especially cheese shops). I think we all have our own vices, and everyone struggles with random desires to buy different things. Nonetheless, I think hearing everyone’s tips can help, because even if you impulse shop online, it doesn’t mean the impulsive grocery shopper’s tip won’t apply to you. With that said, I asked 15 women how they curb their impulse spending, and here’s what they had to say:

1. “I curb my impulse spending by just not going shopping, as simple as that sounds. Or if I do go shopping, I stick to a very strict list. I used to go to the mall with friends as a social activity, and end up buying things that I really didn’t need. If I avoid the mall entirely, then that doesn’t happen. I think another component is my own laziness; in stores, I often pick things up with the intention of buying them, but then end up not having the patience to wait in line, get out my wallet, and follow through with everything else involved to purchase it. So I’ll just leave the store without buying anything at all.” — Katie

2. “During my shopping ban, I kept a list of things I wanted to buy. After my shopping ban, I looked through it and realized that I didn’t really want most of those things (I still would very, very much like a purse from Native, Dubai though). So keeping a list of ‘dream’ purchases and then looking through it every now and then before actually deciding on a purchase has been helpful.” — Etinosa

3. “I live and study in Europe, and my parents help me pay for college and a few other expenses. The way that my parents give me money every month is by transferring money to my American account, which I withdraw and promptly put in my French (euro) account. By doing this, we avoid heavy international transfer fees. To curb my impulse spending, instead of taking it all out at once, I try to take it out in little chunks, so that way my balance in my euro account (which is what I use day-to-day) is perpetually low. That way, I can’t justify just randomly going shopping or buying something I don’t need, because I have to plan a money transfer ahead of time to do so.” — Rachel

4. “I tend to curb my impulse spending by leaving my credit card at home if I’m making a short run to the store. I make a list (always bring a list) before leaving and calculate about how much cash will be necessary to purchase the items that I need. This way, I don’t have excess cash to spend willy-nilly on impulse buys, like clothes or alcohol.” — Jessica

5. “I’ve recently started limiting my spending to cash or my debit card. Until I can get my credit card debt under control, I’ve found that I’m much less likely to make an impulse purchase when I’m not using credit. It also restricts my spending to the amount of cash I’ve taken out or the allotted amount available on my debit card. As a result, I’ve really had to prioritize certain things over others. For example: groceries > spring clothing.” — Laura

6. “I have a really bad habit of ‘bored shopping’ when I don’t have anything to do. I know, I KNOW. I’m working on it. Now when I feel inclined to just peruse flea markets, Goodwill, or even Target, I bring cash instead of my cards. If I buy something, it’s been set within a budget (the cash), and something about physically SEEING my money go away because I just had to have another fucking candle makes me check myself before I truly wreck myself.” — Kendra

7. “In the last two years, I have maintained an excel sheet for my personal finances. This helps me track my minute expenses: coffee, a bar of chocolate, etc. This helps me understand where my money is going, and even on those days when I think I have not been extravagant, I tend to easily spend 20-30 bucks. Tracking these lower-level expenses is important for me because it helps me tighten my budget. So I would say writing down each and every expense has helped me curb my frivolous expenses.” — Neeharika

8. “I try to close my tab after putting items in an online shopping cart. I tell myself that if I really want/need these items, I should feel just as certain the next day. Oftentimes, I end up forgetting about my purchases, or (rarely) I go back for them and find I actually do think it’s worth spending the money. On the topic of online shopping, I also know to leave certain newsletters unopened now — you know, like all those flash sale and special discount emails.” — Eva

9. “I’ve been handling my own finances since I landed in boarding school at age 14. This meant that I had absolutely no supervision over what I was spending my money on. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to STOP SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY ON CLOTHES. I used to take pride in having more clothes than anyone I knew. It felt like I was a little more special for rarely ever repeating outfits. After my high school days, I learned that the impulse to buy clothes just wasn’t worth it, for me.” — Anum 

10.I would say something that helps curb impulse spending is keeping a list of items you need – whether that’s clothes or food – in your phone’s notepad so when you’re out, you can use it as a reminder that you don’t need certain things.” — Samantha

11. “I gave up shopping altogether for a month, and it totally changed the way I approach impulse spending. I honestly had never thought anything of little purchases, but when I saw how much I saved by not making them, it motivated me to avoid impulse spending whenever possible.” — Jenna

12. “I quit my job about two years ago and lived off my emergency fund for a while. In that time, I completely cut out anything that wasn’t ‘essential,’ and it forced me to cut impulse spending completely out of my life for a few months. Now, I’m just not as interested in walking into a store and grabbing a new top for the weekend. I realized that I could live comfortably without that, so that’s what I do now.” — Elizabeth

13. “I unsubscribed to ANY emails and notifications from my favorite stores, so I never see the sales, and therefore never indulge in them.” — Natalia

14. “I grocery shop with a buddy, or with my significant other. My impulse purchases happen in line at the grocery store. I’ll be doing well one minute, and then the next, I’ll be throwing fun cookies into my cart right before I check out. When I have my roommate or my boyfriend with me, I have someone else to hold me accountable and discourage me from buying an eighth pack of handmade peanut butter cups.” — Farah

15. “I make sure that absolutely no website has my credit card information on file. That way, if I impulsively want to buy something on Amazon, I have to go through the process of putting my card info in all over again, and it makes me really think about whether I need that pretty pair of slippers I just stumbled across. More often than not, the answer is a resounding ‘no.'” — Rose

Image via Unsplash

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