budget

10 Ways to Stop Overspending on Impulse Buys

6 Minute Read

Let’s be honest here: making an impulse buy is kind of fun—at least in the moment. You walk into a store not anticipating an extra purchase, yet the perfect sale appears right in front of you! It’s meant to be, right?

A recent survey by Slickdeals found that Americans impulsively spend an average of $450 every month.(1) That adds up to and extra $5,400 spent every year!

So for some of you, grabbing that coveted item means you’ll be overspending—or worse—using a credit card to pay for it. Whether you’re on Baby Step 1 or Baby Step 7, we’ve come up with 10 tips to help you dodge the temptation to overspend.

1. Make a budget and stick to it.

Okay, first things first: You need a budget. If you don’t already have one, create yours in less than 10 minutes with our free budgeting app EveryDollar. But you have to actually stick to it! A budget isn’t a magic wand that will suddenly make all of your money behave. It’s on you to tell your money where to go each month and then follow that plan.

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2. Give yourself permission to spend.

Yes, we just told you to stick to your budget—and you always should. But it’s also important to throw a little fun money in there too! Give yourself (and your spouse if you’re married) a line item in the budget with your name on it. This is money you can spend how you want on and what you want. Depending on your budget, this might be $10 a month or $100 a month. Just make sure the amount is reasonable and affordable for your budget!

So the next time you’re walking through the mall and something catches your eye, simply check your “fun money” fund.

3. Wait overnight before you make a purchase.

Ramsey Personality Rachel Cruze said it best: “When you sleep on the decision, you put some time between your emotions and the transaction.” Give yourself a day to calm down when an impulse buy gets you jazzed. Once you’re cool and have a fresh perspective, ask yourself if you’ll actually use the item or service and if you can pay cash for it. That’s a great way to put the purchase into perspective.

And watch out for deals that are only good for 24 hours—don’t let a countdown rush you into buying anything! Remember the offer, save some money, and be ready for it next time if you can’t afford it right now. Because a sale will come back around. Trust us.

4. Shop with a plan.

Determine what you want to buy and how much you’ll spend before you ever start shopping. With a plan in place, you’ll be less likely to give into overspending. Your shopping list can range from grocery items to the Christmas gifts you plan to purchase for your extended family—just know before you go.

5. Beware of joining too many email lists.

Signing up for a store’s email list can be a great way to snag 15–20% off coupons or even (gasp) free shipping! If you have a purchase you know you’ll be making soon, go ahead and sign up for the company’s email list to score that extra discount.

But keep in mind that an email blast can also be your worst enemy.

Picture it: You’re doing great sticking to your budget. Everything is accounted for and every purchase is planned. Things are going great! That is, until you check your inbox and find 15 different emails announcing one sale after another. Danger, danger!

You weren’t even thinking about shopping! But now they’ve caught your attention and you just have to see what’s on sale. Step away from the wave of emails and unsubscribe as fast as you can!

6. Don’t shop when you’re emotional.

You may be having a great day and make an impulse buy in the height of the moment. But it could also be the opposite—you’re having a rough time, you see something you want, and you tell yourself you deserve it.

Either of these scenarios can easily happen. Don’t let your emotions dictate your spending.

7. Bring someone with you when you shop.

Do you have a sibling or friend who is willing to get in your face and tell you not to buy something? Bring them on your shopping trip! Tell them what you plan to buy and ask them to talk some sense into you if you start straying from the strategy. Sweeten the deal by offering to buy them a coffee afterward.

8. Take only the amount of cash you’ll need.

Figure out how much money you need for the items you want and only take that amount. You could even go a step further and leave your debit card at home so you don’t tempt yourself to buy more with plastic. According to a study on spending behavior, people who shop with a card tend to spend more than they would with cash.(2)

If you stick to your shopping plan and don’t bring any extra money along on the trip, you can’t make an impulse buy. Now that’s the power of cash!

9. Stop the comparisons.

If you always compare what you have (or don’t have) to others, you’ll never be satisfied. It’s just like Rachel Cruze said in her book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, “When we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win.”

Instead of looking at what someone else has and thinking, Oh! I need that too!, take a step back and be thankful. Learn to be grateful for what you do have. If you change your perspective, you might find you already have more than you thought.

10. Keep your goals in mind.

Giving into an impulse buy won’t help you achieve your goals—whether that’s getting out of debt, paying off your mortgage or investing for your future. Overspending will eat up any extra money you were saving to put toward those goals.

Remember This Before You Impulse Buy

Dave always says, “Children do what feels good, adults devise a plan and follow it.” The excitement of impulse spending never lasts. Control the urge to fork over money when you discover a jacket on sale or a sweet offer from an online deal. That discipline will get you something priceless—peace of mind. And that’s one purchase you’ll never regret!

An envelope system is the smart and easy way to manage your money and stop overspending. Get one that suits your budget and lifestyle along with a free downloadable guide!

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