This post has some alternate titles, including: Well, That Escalated Quickly and That Time I Went to Ikea
It can happen at any store. Target is especially troubling, but even the grocery store can be a culprit. I’m there with my list, but I see something I need that isn’t on the list. It would have been if I had known about it, but I didn’t know until I saw it just now. I can leave it there and hope I forget about it, but I know I won’t. I’d just have to make another trip back for it. That would cost gas money and time, so I put it in your cart.
Photo Credit, Target Corporate
It’s only a few dollars.
It would make a great teacher’s gift. I should get 2 more.
It’s adorable and would cost more to make it myself. Besides, my time is worth something!
I’m especially susceptible when I’m shopping at a store that’s a long drive from home, like yesterday when I was at Ikea. If I change my mind, I can’t easily go back and buy something I left behind. Enter shopping anxiety. To make matters worse I had a save $25 off a $150 purchase coupon. That was a genius move by their promotions department. In my mind I was already willing to part with $125, and it didn’t take many impulse items to boost my total even higher.
Not all impulse buys are bad decisions. In fact, they can work in your favor if done properly. It’s not possible to plan any shopping trip perfectly from home. You can’t know what the available options will be when you actually get in the store, so it only makes sense to make some buying decisions on the spot.
When the cashier gave me my total I blurted out, “Well, that escalated quickly!” How can a few $5-10 items add up to that much? As I drove the long drive home, I second guessed my buying decisions, thought about what went wrong, and remembered how I usually avoided “total shock” at the register. I came up with these guidelines:
- The money you have available at any given moment is FINITE. Decide the most that you are willing to spend and have the cash on hand.
- Plan ahead the best you can. Ikea has a great app that allows you to add items to a shopping list and it keeps a running total for you. (It also lets you know which items are out of stock so you don’t waste a trip.)
- As you’re shopping keep your own running total on your calculator app of every item that makes it in your basket. (Ikea’s app will work for this too, you can even barcode scan items in store and add them to your list.)
- Don’t forget to add room for tax. Our tax rate is almost 9% but to keep it simple, I estimate an extra 10% of the bill.
- As you see items that should have made the list, decide what is already in your cart that you aren’t going to purchase. Your total has to stay the same, so as you impulse shop, subtract something else from your list. Some items are easier to wait on than others. Some items are on clearance or are likely to sell out and not be restocked. Use your best wisdom to choose between the buy nows and buy laters (with next months budget—after that paycheck comes.) If I don’t need it immediately and it isn’t on special, it’s usually fair game for the chopping block.
- Keep the tags/packaging and your receipts! If you get home away from the glittery atmosphere, have a snack and start thinking clearly only to realize you’ve made a terrible mistake, you can take it back.
- Remind yourself of the truth. “Ikea feels far, but it only costs $4 round trip to go there.” “Before I saw this item, I never missed it from my life.” “If I can’t have this item, something even better will come along later.”
What do you think? Do you ever struggle with impulse shopping or am I the only one?