Impulse shopping happens to most of us at one time or another. Whether it’s an all-out Target binge or a last minute purchase while waiting in line, impulse shopping can be hard to overcome. But impulse buying can be dangerous for our finances, cause chaos for our budgets, and create a huge amount of waste. So how can we overcome our impulses and keep our budgets in check?
Here’s everything you need to know about impulse buying and how you can resist the temptation to buy things you don’t need.
What is impulse buying?
Impulse buying is any unplanned purchase that is made. It is typically not needed, but instead something that the consumer decides that they want. It can be as small as a pack of gum in the checkout line or as expensive as a new designer handbag. While impulse buying may fit into your budget and not be an issue, impulse buying can often lead to overspending and can lead to financial issues.
There are a few telltale signs that impulse buying is becoming an issue for you. If you tend to go shopping to make yourself feel better and consider shopping a form of “self care”, it may be a sign that you are an impulse buyer. If you are often spending more than you can afford on things that you do not need, that is a red flag that your impulse buying is a big problem. If you often feel buyer’s remorse or end up not using the products you are buying, that is another telltale sign that you are impulse buying.
What causes impulse buying?
Impulse buying is incredibly common–so common in fact that there has been tons of research on the subject. Scientists have been fascinated by this consumer behavior and have spent a lot of time researching why this is such a common occurrence.
Reason #1: We see something we want.
This seems pretty obvious, but a lot of impulse purchases are made simply because we see something we like and it brings us joy. If we see something that makes us immediately happy it can be a pick-me-up, turning a boring or sad day into a good day. Maybe it’s a book that sounds good, a piece of decor that we think will brighten up our living room, or maybe just a chocolate bar in the check out line. All of these things can bring immediate joy to us.
Reason #2: There’s a deal.
Sometimes seeing something that’s on sale sparks a sense of need that wouldn’t otherwise be there. While you didn’t go to the store to get a sweater, seeing one that is 20% off will suddenly make it feel as if we need it that instant. Many of us are hardwired to look for the best deals as we equate work with money, so finding a good deal will mean that we have to work less than normal to get the desired item. It can be hard to pass up a good deal, and you may even feel guilty if you do not take advantage of a bargain.
Reason #3: We get lost in aspiration.
We all have goals in life, short term and long term. For many of us the short term goals are things like start a proper skincare routine, eat more healthy snacks, and exercise more. All of these aspirations can lead to impulse buying when we are feeling vulnerable. You see a certain face lotion that promises you will look longer and you think, yes! This lotion will help me start a skincare routine. You see a workout outfit and you think, of course! This outfit will motivate me to hit the gym. But all of these aspirational purchases tend to lead nowhere BECAUSE they are impulses. They are not thoughtful purchases that you are aiming to add to your life to reach your goals.
Reason #4: We don’t want to run out of something.
When we find a product that we like we may fear running out of it. This feeling can be intensified if there is a limited amount of something or there is a sale. We want to stockpile whatever we can so that we do not face our fears of being without something.
Who is most likely to impulse buy?
Most of us impulse buy at one time or another. In fact a survey in 2022 from Slickdeals reported that 73% of respondents buy most of their goods without planning. While many people make impulse purchases there are certain personality traits that make some more likely to impulse buy than others.
- Research suggests that people with extroverted personalities tend to impulse buy more than introverts.
- Research also shows that men and women both impulse shop, but men tend to buy electronics while women tend to buy clothing and home goods.
- Younger people tend to shop impulsively at a higher rate than older people.
What are some common impulse purchases?
Literally anything can be an impulse purchase. It is merely defined as a purchase that you do not need. But here are the top impulse purchases according to a 2022 GWI study.
#1. Clothing. 40% of those who responded reported buying clothes on impulse in the last 3 months.
#2. Food and drink. 36% of those who responded reported buying food or drink on impulse in the last 3 months, either at a restaurant or store.
#3. Personal care items. 26% of those who responded reported buying personal care items on impulse in the last 3 months.
#4. Technology/electronics. 22% of those who responded reported buying some sort of tech or electronics purchase on impulse in the last 3 months.
#5. Household products. 20% of those who responded reported buying a household product on impulse in the last 3 months.
#6. Entertainment. 18% of those who responded reported buying some sort of entertainment on impulse in the last 3 months, such as a book or movie.
#7. Home goods/ furniture. 13% of those who responded reported buying furniture or something for the home on impulse in the last 3 months.
#8. Travel/leisure. 12% of those who responded reported an impulse travel purchase in the last 3 months.
Impulse purchases often happen at the store, but online impulse purchases are almost more common these days. With social media influencers linking everything they use every minute of the day, a quick flip to your Instagram can easily turn into an impulse purchase. When free shipping and free returns are offered it is even more difficult to avoid impulse purchases. You feel like you can make an easy return should you change your mind, so your brain is able to justify the purchase even more readily. But even with free returns, most consumers report that they tend to not return impulse buys.
How can I stop impulse buying?
All of this information about impulse buying can help us to break this tendency. After all, knowing why we buy these things can help us avoid the triggers that lead us there.
Only go to the store with intention.
Going to the store because you are bored, frustrated, stressed, or emotional will set you up to fail. Instead of going to the store with a vague list or idea of what you need, go to the store with a clear intention of what you need.
Only use cash at the store.
Credit cards are great for many reasons, but having an open credit line can put us in a position to overspend. When you bring cash you can ensure that you will under no circumstances spend more than you have.
Put it back on the shelf if you are unsure.
Sometimes we see something and love it, but we aren’t sure if we need it. When this happens it is a good idea to simply put it back or save your online purchase for later. This gives you time to think about it and decide if it’s truly something that is worth buying.
Remove your saved card information.
Being able to save your card online makes online shopping a whole lot easier. From the comfort of anywhere you can click and buy without having to even grab your wallet. Removing your card information will force you to take a few more steps and therefore give you more time to determine if you truly want something. If you can’t be bothered to get your wallet to make a purchase, it probably isn’t worth it in the first place.
Unfollow the influencers and unsubscribe from emails.
Avoiding temptation can be hard, but unfollowing the people and companies that are tempting you can help you stop making impulse purchases. If you can’t see the product then you can’t be tempted to buy it.
That’s what you need to know about impulse buying.
Impulse buying is tricky and it can be hard to stop, but using our tips above can help you save money and avoid the wastefulness of impulse buying. Looking for other ways to save money? Think about refinancing your car loan with Auto Approve! Contact us today to find out how much money you could be saving!