Getting Impulse Shopping under Control

Impulse buying is a slippery slope because it can both quickly and easily lead to over-consumption.  It is a euphemism for a “shopping addiction” in today’s culture.  The first step is deciding if you or someone you know has this problem. Here are some of the characteristics of a compulsive shopper: 1) Shopping secretly; 2) Denying the shopping incident(s); 3) Feeling guilty after making the purchase(s); 4) Maxing out one’s credit card(s);  5) Shopping simply for the thrill of it; 6) Making excuses for desiring to shop more often than needed and/or 7) Using shopping as a “reward” because you are “worth it” instead of need-based.

Making impulse purchases not only depletes people’s wallets; it takes over their psyche or well-being as well as negatively impacts those around them.  However, once the feeling of intense joy is over (after they finished buying something), the impulse shoppers are left feeling slumped down until their next “thrill.”  In order to re-experience that ecstasy, they repeat the process of shopping for things that they want instead of just need, and then they suddenly realize that they have an abundance of items that left them with little room for storage and added debt.

There are several things that impulse shoppers can do to help curb the negative cycle:  1) The person with the impulse must first admit that he or she has a problem; 2) The impulse shoppers should make a weekly budget and stick to it (enlisting someone for motivation and emotional support would help even more); 3) They should make a list of the items they need before they go out and only buy those items (i.e. no luxury items); 4) They should only pay by cash. (If they run out of cash, then no purchase can be made); 5) They should consider partaking in a free hobby such as reading, baking, gardening, learning to sew, art work, walking, etc.  Again, asking a partner to join them can make the experience more enjoyable and effective; 6) If the shopping impulse is super intense on a regular basis, then the person should consider limiting one’s free time (such as by volunteering or taking on extra jobs or responsibilities); and 7) They could make one exception for buying a desired (versus a needed) item during a pre-designated time frame (for example: They can make one impulse purchase during special occasions or holidays or once per month as a reward, for instance).

The most important thing is that impulse shoppers must be willing to change their ways without outside pressure for maximum effectiveness.  They must be willing to put in the effort.  If they slip one day by giving into their weakness, then they should immediately get back on course and not buy any other impulse items.  As with adapting to any new skill in life, the more they practice, the easier and more bearable the routine becomes.