Put Down the Credit Card: How To Stop Impulse Buying

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Saving money in today’s economy isn’t easy and can be made even harder when you’re someone who can’t help but succumb to impulse buying. We’re breaking down why we impulse shop, what brings it on, and how to stop it before it worsens.

Psychology Today stresses that impulse buyers are” more social, status-conscious, and image-concerned” and “tend to experience more anxiety and difficulty controlling their emotions, which may make it harder to resist emotional urges to impulsively spend money.” They also suggest that “impulse buyers tend to experience less happiness, and so may buy as a way to improve their mood” and “are less likely to consider the consequences of their spending; they just want to have it.”

“We all want to experience pleasure, and it can be a lot of fun to go shopping and imagine owning the products we see,” they emphasize. “Once we start experiencing pleasure due to this sense of vicarious ownership, we’re more likely to buy those products to continue to experience that pleasure.”

So, if shopping often provides a dopamine hit, how do we handle not getting that and keeping our credit cards in our wallets?

Kimbree Redburn, an accredited financial counselor, and coach at Illuminate Financial, tells Real Simple to delay your purchase by 24 hours.

"If you still want it and can see how it would fit into your life after 24 hours, then you can see how it would fit your budget and consider making the purchase," says Redburn.  "This will help you take some of the impulses of it." 

Joyce Marter, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix, told the outlet that she recommends a budget and finding support. Her budget recommendation is Consumer Credit Counseling, “which offers free budgeting help and debt consolidation” and helps “hold you accountable when you have the urge to shop.” As for support, she suggests an “accountability partner you check in with once a month,” who can be a partner, spouse, friend, etc. 

Tags: Budgeting, Personal Finance, Saving Money

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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