Money Mondays: 10 Ways to Avoid Shopping on Impulse

Spread the love

This post is by Bernie Carr,

We’ve all done it – spent more than we should have at the store and our budget suffers as a result. You may even have the best of intentions. Trying to prepare for emergencies, you go to a warehouse store so you can stock up. When you get home you notice out your bought too many snacks but not enough bulk food supplies.

How do you avoid impulse buying?  Here are 10 ways that work for me.

Know your pitfalls

If you know what stores trigger your impulse buying, you can be on guard when you shop. I get tempted to over-buy at warehouse stores.  I may try a sample and buy something that I had not intended.  I also have to be careful at the camping department or at stores like REI -there are so many cool little gadgets that are hard to resist. But resist you must, which brings me to the next tip.

Shop with a list

Make a thorough list before shopping and stick to the list no matter what.  And don’t add items to the list while at the store and pretend they were supposed to be there from before!

Leave bank or credit cards at home

Shopping with cash is a powerful way to avoid impulse buying. You know you have a limited amount and you have to prioritize the items you can buy. In fact, when I want to save money I go on a debit card diet.

Stop online surfing at shopping sites

When you are bored at work, don’t visit shopping sites like Amazon or other online stores on your phone or work computer. You’re bound to see items that attract you and cause you to buy on impulse.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry or upset

If you shop when you’re upset, you’re more likely to convince yourself you deserve something right now. You’ll be shopping to make yourself feel better but the feeling is temporary.  If you go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, you’re also more likely to over-buy.

Use a basket or smaller cart

If you go to the supermarket needing one or two items, use the basket or small cart.  If you take the large cart, you are more likely to fill up the cart with items you did not plan to buy.

Avoid the mall

A lot of people go to the mall out of habit.  Find other things to do like go to the library, go on a picnic, go on a hike or even meet at the gym. Or, if you really need something at the mall, find the item and leave after your purchase is done.

Beware of “Sale” signs

Signs that say “Sale!” “50% off today only” and other enticements are all designed to get you to visit the store and part with your hard earned money. You are not saving anything if you spend money on things you don’t need. You save 100% if you hang on to your money and not buy anything.

Stop for a moment

Before going to the cashier to make the purchase, stop and think. Do you already have another item that will suffice?  How many hours will you need to work to pay off the item? Take a deep breath and pause.

I’ve also been successful foregoing a purchase by putting the item back and telling myself “Next time.” I feel better about not buying right now, and always have the opportunity to get it another time.

Keep your receipts

If all else fails and you succumb to impulse buying, you have another chance to redeem yourself. Don’t use the items, don’t tear off the tags or break the packaging. Some stores have a deadline when they no longer accept returns. Set aside your receipt and return the items as soon as possible.

Do you have any favorite tips to stay on budget and resist the urge to buy on impulse?  Please share in the comments.  When you overcome the momentary thrill of impulse buying, give yourself a pat on the back that you maintained control.

© Apartment Prepper 2019


For more tips on prepping on small budget, read my book:

Bernie's Latest Book

Spread the love


  1. The 72 hour think it over rule works too. If after 3 days you’ve forgotten about it, you probably didn’t need it anyway

  2. When I’m feeling deprived because we no longer go to the mall or spend foolishly (it was fun 🙂 I use Amazon Wish List. Once a month or so I go through and delete all the “neat but don’t need it” stuff. If there’s something I still do want, I save up for it and watch for a sale price. All the fun of shopping, a convenient way to compare prices and customer reviews, and there’s time to think it over, as the article said. When I look at things in terms of Saturdays spent at work, suddenly I’m very frugal. Thanks for a great article.

    1. Hi Aunt Mary, Glad you liked the article! I like your idea of putting the item on the Amazon wish list, it’s there when you decide you really need it, but the urgency to buy now is gone. Thanks for the comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *