How to Stop Impulse Buying

By Angela Monroe - July 28, 2020


Impulse buying: A lot of fun and a lot of wallet damage. If you’re a shopaholic and just need some retail therapy, it’s pretty easy to dismiss as well.

Impulse buying can leave a huge dent on your savings and result in instant feelings of regret and guilt.

Stop impulse buying with these tips…

Firstly, what are the main reasons we buy things impulsively?

woman looking at laptop with credit card

Think back to the last time you bought something on an impulse, especially when you didn’t really need it at all. What kind of mood and location were you in?

Impulse buying happens in stores and online – it’s especially easy online and with ‘buy-now, pay-later’ options. Here are of the main reasons why people impulse shop:


(the fear of missing out). This happens when it’s the ‘last one available’, and you ‘hurry, while stocks last’ to get the ‘limited edition’.

Social Media: 

Or social media influencers. This reason seems to be increasing: you buy something due to social media pressure. A recent study found that 47% of millennials use social media while shopping. It also found we are six times more likely to spend more when using social media while shopping.

“Saving” Money:

Many people buy things due to savings. Impulsively buying items which are on sale when you don’t actually need that particular item. If you’ve ever come home with a new purchase you didn’t plan for because it was ‘discounted’, you fall into this category.


adding money to piggy bank

This old classic never gets… old. Experts always recommend saving up money for large purchases. It makes sense. If you can put aside a portion of your income each pay cycle then use that for planned purchases, you’ll really thank yourself. It’ll also allow you to research the item you’re looking to buy, getting an idea of brand / model quality and any sales coming up.

A shopping list:

post it notes

Super easy on a phone that most shoppers have with them. The importance of creating a shopping list has been known for millennia (yes, it’s true). With a shopping list, you won’t go off on ‘product tangents’ when browsing aisles or online. Research shows that shoppers without lists spend up to around 30% more than those with lists. Additionally, shopping lists help you remember what you actually need as you (should) plan them prior to going shopping.

Avoid credit cards and payment plans:

hand cuffs using computer

Payment plans mean options to own the product today but pay later. These, along with credit cards make spending extremely easy and even (falsely) remove some of the feeling of actually spending money as you don’t hand cash over or see money subtracted from your bank account. 

Additionally, some of these payment options can leave enquiries on your credit file which will result in a hit to your credit score. Enquiries and defaults can stay on your credit file for a long time.

Don’t drink and shop:

glass of wine near computer

Did you know that drunk purchases are worth US$45 billion in America alone? People tend to spend far more on frivolous purchases after a few drinks. If you get tempted to pull out your phone and order something online that you don’t need when you’ve had a few, keep your phone in your pocket. 

Furthermore, many online shops prey on drunk impulse buyers by having late-night flash sales for example.

Don’t compare yourself to others:

peering through blinds

Another classic you probably heard from your parents. Many people are reminded of what friends and family have when browsing aisles and products online. It’s easy to get tempted to ‘keep up with the Joneses’’. Stop impulse buying by thinking about what you need and want rather than what you ‘should’ have compared to other people.

The bottom dollar:

money near black piggy bank

Impulse buying is something we all do sometimes. Like most things, it’s ok in moderation and if you’ve budgeted for it. Make sure you’re not seeing signs of uncontrollable debt and take note of the tips mentioned above.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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