Impulsive Buying – How to Stop This Endless Cycle?

Believe it or not, we have all been a victim of impulsive buying.

Remember the last time you were at the supermarket and ended up spending more than your budget? Or the time when you bought something ‘just because’ and couldn’t stay within the financial plan you set for yourself?

YES! We have all been there.

A recently conducted study shows that on any given month, Americans spend $182.98 more than the allocated budget. Although this gives rise to financial insecurities, impulsive purchases are extremely hard to get rid of.

Another study shows that ever since the pandemic, impulsive buying has seen an 18% increase in its overall rating!

One would think that you impulse buy only when you like something that is way above your budget and still end up buying it. But, it turns out that’s not the case! One can still make impulsive purchases on things like hand wash, toilet paper, etc.

Shocked to learn this? Could you fall into this category as well? Read on to find out!

Why do People Impulse Buy?

According to scientists, impulsive buying is generally connected to unhappy thoughts. More often than not, people become impulsive buyers to get rid of their feelings of unhappiness. Other times, a person may impulsively purchase things that hold an emotional significance to them.

So, be it because of your coping mechanism or the fear of missing out on exclusive deals on certain products, this sort of purchase can definitely put your financial stability at risk.

How to Stop Impulsive Buying?

Like all other addictions, the addiction of purchasing things on a whim is equally difficult to get rid of. Especially if you have mental health issues and shopping helps to work as retail therapy for you.

Nonetheless, we have listed down a couple of ways that you can adopt to let go of this habit. Here are some of them.

Stick to Budget

We generally end up over-spending when we do not have a strict monetary plan for ourselves. This is why sorting out your financials is a very crucial step to stay out of debts and loans.

For this, you will simply have to plan out a budget or expense limit on the shelf. If needed, carry a piece of paper with your budget written on it so that you do not forget.

Do Not Be Tempted

Just because the shopkeepers are offering a special discount on something, it doesn’t mean that you will have to have it. Therefore, it is imperative that you try to avoid temptation by having a stronger will force.

So, try to remind yourself why this is such a bad idea so that you do not end up putting something in your grocery basket only because you like it.


Another process that seems to be working for most other people is thinking before making the purchase. Plan out certain questions or scenarios in your head to determine whether you really need the product or not.

So, if it is something that you MUST have and cannot live without, then go ahead and purchase it by moving around the funds available to you. However, if it is something you want to buy for no good reason, then we suggest you think about all the financial losses you may incur from it and simply walk away.

Resolve Underlying Issues

As mentioned above, people can purchase things on a whim due to underlying issues related to their mental health. This is more prevalent in people who suffer from extreme anxiety or depression.

Thus, if you have been impulsively buying things as a coping mechanism to sadness or loneliness, meet a mental health professional to help you recover from it.

Set Financial Goals

Once you have a strict budget to follow, remind yourself why it is important for you to stick to the budget. It could be because of financial security or saving up for future studies or even travel.

Make a pros and cons list in your head before you grab the item and put it in your basket. Try to think about how making a particular unnecessary purchase will set you back in terms of your financial goals.

Treat Yourself

Perhaps one of the best ways to get rid of the habit of retail therapy is to treat yourself every once in a while.

Here is how you can do it – for starters, make a list of the items. Whenever you are at a shopping aisle and want to buy a certain product out of impulse, take out your phone or a piece of paper to note down what you want. Repeat the same for every time you make a trip to the shopping mall.

The next step is to take a look at the list once the month is over and treat yourself with one of the things that you most want from the list.

Do Not Carry a Lot of Money

A risky yet clever move is to not carry a lot of money when taking a trip to the supermarket. This way, even if you want to purchase a whole of lot things impulsively, you will still not be able to do it. And that too for monetary reasons.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the best ways to treat impulsive buying.

This also means that you will have to ditch the use of your credit or debit cards completely. Otherwise, paying for things using the cards will not help you reach your financial goal.


To conclude, we hope that you are able to give up your impulsive purchases through one or two of the ways mentioned above. Remember, seeking professional help is always the easiest and best way out, in case this is a recurring thing happening due to mental health issues.

All in all, if you do not have any underlying mental health issues, make your monetary goals the leading reason as to why you should stop purchasing impulsively. And do not forget to indulge in some retail therapy at least once a month to slowly give up the habit of impulse purchasing!.

Photo by Jon Cellier on Unsplash

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