Are you an impulse shopper? 84% of shoppers are.
This number might surprise you, but it shouldn’t. With the flashy ads everywhere, bright displays, and colorful, must-have products, how can a person resist? The problem is, many people end up living paycheck to paycheck or going into debt because of impulse shopping. But you can stop this from happening to you.
Companies spend millions of dollars figuring out ways to trick your brain into being impulsive enough to buy their product on the spot. They employ specialists in marketing and psychology to understand how consumers think and act. Then they use that info against you to get you to purchase things.
Here are a few marketing schemes you might have noticed.
You walk into a grocery store. The shopping carts are right there where you can easily get one. The colorful produce is in view, and beautiful flowers are nearby. The apples are shiny with wax. The aroma of delicious baked goods drifts through the air. Soft music is playing in the background and workers are smiling and saying hello. There is a small coffee shop up front with chairs you can relax in if you need to.
The products are all marked down with the old price crossed out, making you think there are some good deals here. The prices are listed in odd numbers such as $5.99 instead of $6.00. Some of the signs even say, “Buy One, Get One Free.” Other signs say, “Limited-Time offer.” Oh, and don’t forget the 10 for $10 deals.
The most expensive items are right at eye level. The necessities like milk and butter hide in the back, so you have to walk past a lot of tempting items to get there. And when you check out, there are hundreds of little products sitting right in front of you as you stand there waiting. All of these things are done on purpose to cause impulse shopping.
Don’t Let Them Trick You!
Even though you are faced with all these not-so-subtle retail tricks, there are still things you can do to stop yourself from impulse buying. First, let’s go over 13 Tricks to Stop Impulse Shopping for grocery stores and then clothing stores.
Tips to Stop Impulse Shopping at Grocery Stores
- Plan a food menu out at home first. (Download a free menu planner here.)
- After planning your menu, make a grocery list and be sure to list items by food type. (Download free organized shopping list here.) Set a spending limit for the shopping trip and write it at the top of the list.
- Plan ahead by selecting one store that you know has the best prices. If you like to be frugal, get your coupons ready before leaving. See Coupons.com for great printable coupons or load them on your loyalty cards electronically. For rebates on purchases use Ebates or Ibotta.
- Use a cash budget system and only bring the amount of money you are allowed to spend on groceries. (Click here for a free cash envelope template.) If you can, try leaving your credit cards at home.
- Do not shop while you are hungry. Eat first before heading to the store. Do not shop when you are tired. Make sure you have the energy to buy quickly. Do not shop while you are upset or in a bad mood.
- Do not bring your spouse or kids to the store with you. Don’t go with rich friends or with friends that are impulse buyers. Try to shop alone and get your mind frame into mission mode. You must be able to focus on your list, and then leave as fast as possible.
- Bring your grocery list. DO NOT buy something unless it is on the list! You must stick to this part like it is the law. If you start to reach for something that is not on the list, tell yourself you would rather have the money than the stuff. Imagine that the item you are grabbing is a parking ticket instead and don’t take it.
- As you put items in your cart, add them to a running total on the calculator on your phone, or bring a separate calculator if needed. Keep looking at the spending limit at the top of the list as you add to your calculator. Stop if you go over the limit of expenditure and put some things back. If you need those things, find cheaper alternatives or put back something you can do without.
- Shop for the necessities around the edges of the store first (produce, milk, meat, eggs, etc.). Then if you must go to the aisles, only walk down aisles that you need things from.
- Check the bottoms and tops of aisles to look for lower prices. It’s ok to buy generic!
- Don’t buy off the end caps. These are more likely to be brand name and more expensive.
- Do not fall for marketing tricks like “10 items for $10.” You probably don’t need 10. If the price is $5.99, read it as $6. This price trick really does get people, so don’t fall for it. Don’t fall for signs that say, “Limited Time Only” and don’t fall for a crossed out price with another lower price next to it. They purposely mark up the item and then cross it out and mark it down to trick you. You are smarter than that. You probably don’t need something just because it is on sale.
- Don’t put anything in your cart while at the checkout. Just distract yourself by looking at something on your phone, so you don’t look at the items on display near the counter.
What about clothing stores or online shops?
All of the above tips work for any kind of shopping, but I would add a few more for when you are shopping at clothing stores or shopping online.
- Limit yourself to 3 outfits. Only allow yourself to go shopping for nonfood items once a month.
- Put together a list of everything you can think of that you bought on impulse and later regretted. Glance it over before selecting items to buy.
- Calculate how much time you have to work at your job just to pay for the item you are going to buy. Does it cost 3 hours of pay or maybe 8? Figure it out because that can talk you out of it.
- For online shopping, don’t store your credit card info with the shop. Make it so you have to get up and find your wallet before you purchase the item. This will give you time to reconsider.
- Don’t ever shop at the mall. The mall is a money pit.
- If you want something, add it to a list. Wait for 30 days to see if you still want it before buying it.
- Ask yourself: would you rather have a bunch of stuff? Or would you rather have money in your savings for an emergency or a vacation? Would you rather have more clothes than you can wear or would you rather be able to save up a retirement account for yourself? Would you rather buy a bunch of meaningless toys for your kids now? Or would you rather save up a college fund for them?
- Make sure you have a budget. This helps prevent overspending and makes you more aware of your financial situation. Do you need help making a budget? For a free printable budget and a free copy of The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting sign up below.
Just remember, if you are more careful with your spending now, you will have more money later to do the awesome stuff you really want to do!
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