Get All Access for $5/mo

Shop Smart, Spend Less: How to Avoid Impulse Buys and Make Smarter Purchases A whopping 73% of Americans admitted in a 2022 study by Slickdeals that the majority of purchases they make are impulsive! Besides, it’s easy to fall into the trap of...

By John Rampton

This story originally appeared on Due

A whopping 73% of Americans admitted in a 2022 study by Slickdeals that the majority of purchases they make are impulsive! Besides, it's easy to fall into the trap of impulse buying in a world filled with enticing advertisements, flashy displays, and endless online shopping options. And let's agree; we've all been there.

But what if we could break free from this cycle and shop smarter? Imagine making purchases that align with our needs and values while saving money. The good thing is that some practical strategies can help you make sensible shopping choices.

So, scroll through this article and master the art of shopping smartly while spending less and still find satisfaction in every purchase.

What is an impulse buy?

From the consumer behavior perspective, an impulse purchase or impulse buying refers to a purchase decision made by a consumer without prior planning, where they spontaneously buy a product or service before contemplating its actual need.

Someone who tends to make such unplanned purchases is commonly called an impulse purchaser, impulse buyer, or compulsive buyer.

For example, you may find yourself at a store or browsing online, and something captures your attention, causing you to buy it without much thought. That's what impulsive buying is. It's essential to recognize that impulse buying can negatively affect your finances, as these unplanned purchases often add up and strain your budget.

Understanding the negative impact of impulse buying

Indulging in impulsive shopping may seem like a well-deserved treat, but it can severely deplete your finances. Shockingly, an average American spends a staggering $314 on impulsive buys each month! Even more concerning is that both the frequency and amount spent on these impulsive purchases are on the rise.

Besides, the money spent on impulsive purchases could have been utilized more meaningfully, such as paying off debts or establishing an emergency fund. These are crucial financial goals that can provide stability and peace of mind for the future.

In the long run, impulsive buying can also have severe repercussions. The situation can become alarming if you tend to rely on credit cards for impulsive buying. Those spur-of-the-moment purchases can quickly accumulate and lead to overwhelming credit card bills. It can trap you in a deep financial hole, making it challenging to regain your financial footing.

How to avoid impulse buys and make more intelligent purchases

By recognizing the downsides of impulse buying, you can begin to make more intentional and informed spending choices. It's about prioritizing your long-term financial well-being over short-term gratification. Every dollar saved today can contribute to a more secure and prosperous tomorrow.

Create a comprehensive budget

The average savings of 60% of people aged between 25 and 34 in the US is $1000 or less. If you also find it challenging to create and stick to a budget, you can try comprehensive budgeting. It serves as the cornerstone of effective financial management.

  • Start by assessing your income, meticulously listing your expenses, and defining your savings goals.
  • Dividing your funds into specific categories empowers you with a clear overview of your financial capacity, enabling you to resist the temptation of impulsive purchases.
  • Use 50% of your income for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings.

With a well-structured budget in place, you gain valuable insights into your financial health, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about where your money should be allocated. By adhering to your budget, you can exercise greater control over your spending habits and develop a disciplined approach to managing your finances.

Allow yourself some discretionary spending

While sticking to a budget is essential, allowing yourself some room for discretionary spending is equally crucial. Treating yourself occasionally is permissible and can contribute to your overall well-being.

When creating your budget, allocate some of your income to non-essential items or experiences that bring you joy. It ensures you have designated funds to indulge in occasional treats or activities without compromising your financial stability.

By incorporating this allowance into your budget, you can enjoy guilt-free spending on things that genuinely bring you happiness while maintaining a responsible and balanced approach to managing your finances.

Create a detailed shopping list

Creating a shopping list before you hit the stores might seem old school, but it is a powerful strategy to curb impulsive buying and stay on track with your budget. By jotting down the items you truly need, you avoid being swayed by tempting displays or persuasive sales tactics.

A well-planned list helps you prioritize your purchases, ensuring you don't forget essential items while saving time and effort. By sticking to your shopping list, you stay focused and resist the temptation to make unplanned impulse buys, ultimately making more thoughtful and more intentional shopping decisions.

Use cash instead of credit cards

Using cash for purchases can be an effective strategy to avoid impulse buying. When you rely on physical currency instead of credit cards, you develop a heightened awareness of your spending.

Cash transactions provide a tangible connection between your hard-earned money and the items you're purchasing, making you more conscious of the value of each dollar. Cash in hand makes you less likely to overspend or accumulate unnecessary debt. Embracing this payment method encourages responsible spending, enabling you to make more thoughtful and deliberate purchasing decisions.

Postpone purchase

Implementing a 24-hour rule can be a game-changer in avoiding impulse purchases. After adding an item to your online cart, step away from your electronic device and give yourself time to reflect. Take advantage of this waiting period to ask yourself important questions. Assess if the item is truly necessary or may bring more harm than good.

This practice helps remove impulsive tendencies and provides an opportunity to evaluate the item's compatibility with your budget. If, after 24 hours, you still genuinely desire the purchase, you can proceed with more confidence and make a well-informed decision.

Identify triggers

Understanding the triggers that drive impulse buying is key to curbing the habit. Stress, boredom, and social pressure are frequent culprits. By pinpointing these triggers, you can develop healthier coping mechanisms.

For example, if stress pushes you to shop, consider stress-relief activities like exercise or meditation instead. Boredom can be alleviated through hobbies or engaging with friends. Overcoming social pressure may involve setting personal boundaries or finding supportive peers. By addressing the root causes behind impulsive purchases, you can make more mindful choices, preserve your finances, and discover healthier outlets for emotional fulfillment.

Avoid temptation

To resist the allure of impulsive buying, it's crucial to steer clear of environments that foster it. Avoid frequenting places like malls or online shopping websites that tempt you with endless options. Take proactive steps by unsubscribing from marketing emails and newsletters that inundate your inbox with tempting deals.

By reducing your exposure to such influences, you'll minimize the chances of succumbing to impulsive purchases. Instead, focus on creating an environment that supports mindful spending and cultivates healthier financial habits.

Practice mindfulness

Engaging in mindful decision-making can significantly impact your purchasing habits. Before making a purchase, take a moment to pause and reflect on your motives. Ask yourself if the item truly aligns with your genuine needs and values. By consciously evaluating your choices, you cultivate a greater awareness of your spending patterns, which helps prevent impulsive purchases.

Mindfulness encourages a more deliberate and intentional approach to spending, enabling you to make wiser decisions that align with your long-term financial goals and personal values. Embrace this practice to foster a more mindful and purposeful relationship with your money.

Prioritize quality over quantity

When making purchasing decisions, it's wise to prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of opting for multiple inexpensive items, consider investing in high-quality products designed to withstand the test of time. While the initial cost may be higher, choosing quality over quantity proves to be a financially savvy decision in the long run.

High-quality items are typically more durable and require fewer replacements, saving you money over time. By resisting the urge for impulsive buying and focusing on durable, long-lasting products, you not only reduce unnecessary expenses but also cultivate a mindset of mindful consumption and make smarter, more sustainable choices for your wallet and the environment.

Set spending limits

To control your finances and resist impulsive purchases, setting spending limits for various categories is essential. By establishing clear boundaries on how much you can allocate to different types of expenses, you safeguard yourself from overspending and stay on track with your budget.

These limits are a practical guide, reminding you to make mindful decisions and prioritize your financial goals. Adhering to your spending limits creates a sense of discipline and responsibility, fostering smarter purchasing habits and long-term financial well-being.

Seek accountability

You can get a trusted friend or family member to remind you of your financial goals whenever you are spending recklessly on impulse buying. Seeking accountability from someone is an effective strategy for staying devoted to your financial goals. By openly discussing your spending habits and sharing your objectives, you create a support system to help you resist impulsive purchases.

Your accountability partner can offer guidance, provide objective feedback, and remind you of your goals when temptation arises. This external perspective can provide valuable insights and help you maintain discipline in your spending habits. Regular check-ins and open conversations about your financial progress create a sense of responsibility and increase your chances of making smarter purchasing decisions.

Take a no-spend challenge

Taking a No-Spend Challenge is a powerful strategy for developing mindful spending habits. You gain a deeper understanding of your spending patterns by consciously refraining from non-essential purchases for a designated period, such as a week or a month.

No-Spend Challenge prompts you to distinguish between needs and wants, evaluate the value of each purchase, and appreciate the importance of financial discipline. It also encourages creative alternatives to spending, such as engaging in free activities or finding joy in experiences that don't require opening your wallet.


Mastering the art of shopping smart and making more thoughtful purchases is a valuable skill that can positively impact your financial well-being. By implementing the strategies shared in this guide, you can regain control over your spending habits and avoid falling into the trap of impulse buying.

These strategies can empower you to make intentional and informed choices, focusing on quality rather than quantity and aligning your purchases with your needs and values.

By adopting a mindful and conscious approach to shopping, you save money and cultivate a healthier relationship with money. It'll ultimately lead to a more fulfilled and financially secure life. So remember, shop smart, spend less, and embrace the journey to financial freedom.


Why is it important to avoid impulse buys?

Avoiding impulse buys is crucial because they often lead to overspending and acquiring items that are not necessary or don't provide long-term value. You can save money and make more intentional purchases by resisting impulsive urges.

How can I develop better self-control when it comes to shopping?

Developing self-control involves creating a budget and sticking to it, practicing mindfulness to recognize and resist impulsive urges, and finding alternative ways to cope with emotions or boredom that don't involve shopping.

What are some effective strategies for making smarter purchases?

To make more intelligent purchases, it's essential to research products thoroughly, compare prices from different sellers, read reliable customer reviews, and consider factors such as durability, functionality, and long-term value before deciding.

Is it helpful to make a shopping list before going to the store?

Creating a shopping list before heading to the store can help you stay focused and avoid unnecessary purchases. It allows you to prioritize what you truly need and reduces the chances of being swayed by marketing tactics or impulse buying.

How can I resist the temptation of sales and discounts?

Resisting the allure of sales and discounts can be challenging but not impossible. It's important to remind yourself of your needs and budgetary constraints, question whether the discounted item is genuinely necessary, and consider the potential hidden costs or poor quality associated with heavily discounted products.

Featured Image Credit: Suzy Hazelwood; Pexels: Thank you!

The post Shop Smart, Spend Less: How to Avoid Impulse Buys and Make Smarter Purchases appeared first on Due.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

Top Secrets to Starting a 6-Figure Etsy Side Hustle That Earns Passive Income, According to 3 People Who Did It

Etsy remains a popular ecommerce platfrom for sellers — and can be incredibly lucrative for those who know how to use it.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Thought Leaders

10 Simple, Productive Activities You Can Do When You Aren't Motivated to Work

Quick note: This article is birthed out of the urge to do something productive when I am not in a working mood. It can also inspire you on simple yet productive things to do when you're not motivated to work.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.