We have to understand the beast before we can slay it, right? Impulse buying occurs anytime you buy something you did not plan for. It is characterized by thoughts, sometimes internal, other times spoken out loud, perhaps to a disapproving spouse, that include phrases like:
- “But it was on sale!”
- “Life is short and I’ve always wanted one of these.”
- “I’ve been really good for so long, it was time to treat myself.”
Why do we buy things we don’t need? An affinity for self-destructive behavior? Hardly. No one wants to be in debt.
While research is split about the psychology of why we do it, it makes sense think about impulse buying as no different than eating something unhealthy. Let’s be realistic, you can’t eat healthy all the time and you can’t stick to a budget 100%. We eat when we’re either happy or sad and the same applies to our spending behavior.
Now that we’ve addressed that it’s emotional, it’s important to remember that both genders are guilty. Three out of four adults in this country make impulse purchases, according to a new survey by CreditCards.com “We found that men and women impulse shop about the same amount, but the way they feel and how much they spend are different,” said CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz.
- Men were significantly more likely than women to spend serious money on an unplanned purchase. While just seven percent of the women said they had spent $500 or more, 21 percent of the men did. Men also made more impulse purchases of $1,000 or more.
- Women tend to keep their impulse purchases small, under $25.
- Men are more than twice as likely to make an impulse purchase when they’re intoxicated.
- Women are twice as likely to buy impulsively when they are sad.
- Women are more likely to regret making an impulse purchase: 52 percent of the women vs. 46 percent of the men said they experienced buyer’s remorse at one time. Stop impulse buying. It can be done.
Now that we’ve identified what impulse buying is, identified that emotions have an effect on whether we do it, and acknowledged both men and women are guilty, time for some tips!
- Always use a list! This is not limited to grocery shopping. There is a certain big box store, orange in color, where one purchase miraculously turns into many items you never knew you needed.
- Don’t bring your kids with you. If you have to, practice different ways of saying no, or use bribes of things that don’t cost money that you can do as soon as you leave the store.
- Find alternative activities for when you’re feeling stressed, sad, or overwhelmed. Recreational sports? New workout routine? Home improvement project?
- Put the item down if you are only buying it because it’s on sale or it’s 2 for 1.
- With the exception of the grocery store, try to avoid using a cart.
- Remove saved credit cards in shopping apps. Apps that come to mind are Amazon and Groupon.
- If it’s a big purchase, try to institute a 3 day rule where you spend that time thinking about it, weigh it logically against the rest of your financial needs and goals, and consider if you really need it.
RMLEFCU is here to help you avoid impulse buying and save more of your money. However, we can still acknowledge that all work and no play makes life pretty dull. Try a few of these tips and let us know how you avoid impulse purchases. We can save more and avoid guilt together!