5 ways to stop making impulse purchases

Imagine this, you are just going to bed after a long day. To relax, you decide to do a casual scroll through Instagram. You spot an influencer wearing a killer pair of heels. You decide to do a quick search on your favorite shopping website and you find that they are on 50% off. So, next thing you know, they are in your cart and you are checking out.

We have all been there. We have all felt the impact of that one impulsive purchase at the end of the month when we are desperately waiting for payday.

Online shopping has made anything that we want or desire available at our fingertips.

Those cool shoes that influencer was wearing or that very fancy bar set you saw at your friend’s place or that elaborate 9-step skincare routine you saw on Instagram. Anything you want, you can find it online within minutes.

While this has made our lives convenient, it has also made it very easy for us to make impulsive buying decisions that can completely derail our monthly budget & harm our finances long term. This is why it is so important to stop making impulsive purchases a habit.


Why is impulsive shopping so popular? 


Before we move on to different ways that you can stop making impulsive purchases, here’s a major reason why people do it so often; 

Whenever you are feeling bored, anxious, stressed, anxious or any other negative emotions, your brain craves dopamine. This is because dopamine gives you an instant feeling of pleasure and motivation. Dopamine is the feeling of instant gratification that you get after doing something. Impulsive shopping gives you that instant gratification that you want to escape whatever negative emotions that you are feeling at the moment. 

This is why so many people succumb to it. 

The problem here is that when you do this repeatedly you are creating a habit that will not only burn a hole in your pocket but also create an unhealthy practice to deal with your emotions. 

Here are 5 simple ways to reduce and manage your impulsive shopping habits;


1. Sleep on it


The easiest way to reduce impulse purchases is to postpone them for some time. Most of the time, these things are not important and you don’t need them in your life. So by postponing the purchase, there is a high chance that you might forget about them altogether or at least give yourself time to rethink your decision in a rational mindset. 

Also, saying no when you have the urge to buy something can be difficult and sometimes, even make you desire it more. 

Instead, you can tell yourself that you will buy it later. A good rule of thumb is to wait for 24 hours before making the decision. 


2. Do a quick budget check


When you are feeling the urge to spend your money buying something that might not be useful. It is a good idea to do a quick budget check. This means that just take a look at your expenditure for the month and check a few things:

  • Is your need, want & investment ratio (50-30-20 rule) maintained?
  • Are all your bills, EMIs, health insurance premiums, and other mandatory expenses paid?
  • Have you made any heavy/irresponsible expenditures in the past few weeks?
  • Are you certain that the amount of money you have with you will be enough till the next payday?
  • Are you saving up or planning some big expenses in the next few months like a vacation or expensive gadgets etc?

The answer to these questions will give you a rough idea of whether or not you can afford to make that impulsive purchase. It will help you if you can focus on the feeling of regret that most of us experience when we make an impulsive purchase.


3. Delete those apps


This is an easy but effective way to reduce the urge to buy impulsively. Delete all those shopping apps that you visit regularly. If you tend to scroll through these apps mindlessly when you are bored, then just deleting them will not be enough. 

You need to replace them with other interesting apps that you can use to satisfy your urge for mindless scrolling. This can be some games app or some interesting app about your hobbies etc. 

Brands in general want you to shop impulsively. They are designed to encourage and tempt you to make that purchase.

Imagine coming home after a hectic day, you are hungry and the only thing in your kitchen is roti, sabzi. Then you get a notification from Swiggy or Zomato about some delectable biryani. The urge to just order the biryani instead of eating your regular but healthier roti, sabzi will be too much for you to resist. 

Therefore, one of the simplest ways to avoid unnecessary temptation is to unsubscribe from these push notifications & email notifications.


4. Healthy spending habits


Another way to ensure you are not wasting your money on unnecessary things is to buy things that will be useful to you.

Generally, you will not make consistent purchases because the dopamine hit will get reduced with each purchase and you will derive less pleasure from each subsequent purchase. 

So, look at your list of things that you need to buy and purchase the things that you need first. And then you will not feel like buying that unnecessary thing as much.

If you shop for fun and excitement then the best way for you to do this is to spend on experience, not things. This will give you long-term satisfaction as well as help you maintain your mental health.

Experiences like a hiking tour or a cultural tour around your city will allow you to interact with people and create good memories that you can cherish. But you should be mindful of this and do it in moderation. 


5. Keep your emotions in check


This is the most important thing that you need to check to stop impulsive shopping. As we mentioned above, most of the purchases are done to get that dopamine hit. 

But craving dopamine hit regularly can mean that you are trying to escape some negative emotions. This can include insecurities, boredom, stress, anxiety, etc. 

This is why we sometimes refer to impulsive shopping as “ Retail Therapy”. Because some underlying emotions are forcing you to seek that dopamine hit.  

Therefore, before making an impulsive purchase always make sure to check where this impulse is coming from. If you are feeling any of the above emotions, there are better ways to handle it than sabotaging your monthly budget.

Try to distract yourself or use a healthy way to deal with these emotions like taking a walk, listening to some music, talking to friends or watching some movies, etc. This will build healthy habits and ensure that you are not developing unhealthy habits as a form of self-care. 

Because when you indulge in impulsive shopping, you are making the situation worse. Along with whatever negative emotions you are feeling, you will also have to face additional financial stress and guilt. 

With regular practice, you can reduce the urge to overspend impulsively. Make some room in your budget to buy some fun things that are within your means.

Always plan your expenditure even if it’s something that is just for fun and might not be very useful. This will make sure you are not derailing your monthly budget and financial goals to buy that item. You can use the goal-based financial plans by Kuvera to plan this better. Click here to learn more about this.


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