How to Stop an Impulse Buy

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with sale anxiety.  I’ll see a sale advertisement that everyone seems to be buying and think I should by it.  The crowd can’t be wrong…right? Or even worse, I get wrapped up in a new hobby or craft project and buy all the things associated with it, then realize I don’t have the time for it after all.

Just recently I saw my niece hula hoop.  She was really good and it looked so easy. I remarked how tiny her waist was and her mom said it wasn’t that tiny a few months ago. She said they watched her waist whittle away the more she hooped. Then I thought I really needed a hula hoop.  I watched “how to hoop” youtube videos for beginners. I researched all about the hoops and what kind would be best.  I was never successful in the past with a hoop and found out it was because the hoop was too small and light weight. I started to believe that if I bought the $70 hoop, I could really do it.  I could hula hoop while watching my favorite show and in a few months my waist would be tiny like my 13 year old niece’s.

I didn’t buy the hoop.  Instead I thought about the Gazelle walking machine that I sold at a $200 loss at my garage sale, the aerobic step, the yoga bricks, the Home TRX system….you see where this is going.  I still put a moderately priced hoop on my Christmas list, but this is something I need to think about more.  Will I actually do it?  Or is it a waste of money?

I have a spinning wheel, wool carders, drop spindles, a whole bin of roving, and even owned an angora rabbit at one time so I could harvest my own wool.  That was all because I thought hand spinning, then knitting a set of angora ear warmers would make watching peewee soccer games in cool weather more comfortable.  I think I saw it on a blog post featured on pinterest one time, and went totally overboard. I can’t tell you the last time I spinned something and my handmade stuff wasn’t as nice to work with as yarn from the store.

It’s no better when an ad pops up on facebook and shows all the cool gadgets or cute outfits, or special apps that let you buy all the things at a deep discount.  It’s even worse when a blogger I love will show off her new thing (especially home decor thing.) Those are the items I want to buy the most. I will follow the links, read the reviews, look for the best prices and then quickly stop myself from buying a bunch more stuff to clutter my life and stock next year’s garage sale at a loss. Only because experience is a great teacher.

You may already be great at saying no to impulse buys, but just in case you struggle like I do, here are a few questions I ask myself before I buy:

  1. Am I buying to cover up a feeling of inadequacy or to mask emotional pain?
  2. Did I know I had a need before I saw the ad or item?
  3. Do I have the cash for it?
  4. If I use the cash for it, what opportunity will I be giving up in exchange?
  5. Are the reviews complimentary?  Are the reviews fake?
  6. How long did I have to work to earn this money?
  7. What’s the worse thing that will happen if I don’t buy it?
  8. Where will I put it?  Will it add to the clutter?
  9. How long before it ends up in the donation pile?

Shopping and buying stuff is a natural part of life. The key is to let your shopping work with your goals and to not give up what you want most, for what you want now.

What do you think?  Do you have special tricks to keep yourself from buying stuff you don’t need but really want anyway?

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7 thoughts on “How to Stop an Impulse Buy

  1. Suzanne M Driver says:

    Oh Honey do i struggle with this, and when i’m down i’m really at my worst. Luckly it’s not super expensive stuff and i stop and think those things over with myself but it’s the gadgets and geehaws that i like to get. Thank you i am printing out and hoping this will help me not only with buying things but in other areas of my life. Thank you and have a wonderful blessed day.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Question #4 is my favorite! And #8 is my second favorite. I too struggle with impulse buying. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Anna says:

    High five from another can’t Hula hoop ever person all my kids can and my husband could till he hurt his back so badly. Interesting on the weighted hoop. FYI I made a big one out of small black pvc and I still can’t do it it made a great rug loom though! I am jealous of your spinning items I love to spin with a spindle but have resisted buying anything to do with it for many years because I know I don’t have time and it won’t get used. I am on the verge of donating most of my quilting things to our local nonprofit tiny maker space for the same reason I don’t have time. It makes me sad but its the truth. Lately that has been my main impusle stop strategy asking myself do I have time to see this through?

  4. Katie says:

    I really appreciate this article! Also: I can’t believe you got an Angora bunny just for hand carding! LOL that is commitment!!

    YOU SO GET ME! Yes about the social media posts and ads, especially in downtime… which is how I signed up for an account at Wish on Thanksgiving and finally today opted out of all the emails! Or going to Target and seeing cute things in the dollar zone and being like “How can I NOT get this little bucket with a hedgehog on it? I LOVE HEDGEHOGS! And it’s ONLY TWO DOLLARS!” I try to remember the last time I bought a thing from there, and how it ended up in the swap party the following year because I never did anything with it, and then got donated when no one else wanted it either. Or how I know that I struggle with finding clothes that fit EXACTLY RIGHT so probably buying online especially from somewhere that would be hard to return would probably work out badly for me.

    My REAL struggle is with impulse food/snack buys. Like anytime I have to run an errand in the car, my brain immediately thinks about what fast food or treat stop is along the way to stop and get hot fried cheese curds or a milkshake or a cinnabon or a bag of chips. Those are small impulse buys that come over me and it’s like my brain CAN’T STOP THINKING about those snacks the whole time I’m driving on errands. It doesn’t happen to me driving to and from work or church, it is only running errands. I think my brain wants me to treat myself for “getting things done” but then the trip itself mentally becomes more about the treat than the errand! My extra 20 pounds over the last year would like my brain to shut up. Maybe I should do a mini vision board for my car or something, specifically related to healthy lifestyle choices.

  5. Angela says:

    Anna, Lol! We drew names in our family tonight and I got my mom. I acted real excited and said, “I know exactly what I’m getting you. What color hula hoop do you want?” We all had a good laugh. My dad drew my name and said, “What kind of car do you want?” I liked his better, bwa ha ha.

  6. Angela says:

    Katie, I think we are kindred spirits. I would be a sucker for a hedgehog bucket too. I bought an Ikea squeaky hedgehog, just because it was adorable and put it in my own stocking. What am I going to do with it?!!!

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