Raise your hand if you’ve gone into Target just to buy a pack of toilet paper and left with a full basket of stuff.  

Hey, we’ve all been there. It’s fine to make light of it all (I mean it does make for some great Target run memes, amiright?) but when it comes time to look at your bank account, it’s probably not going to be fun.

Impulse shopping happens to the best of people, but it can lead to blowing your budget, missing financial goals, and even going into debt. Worst of all, you may regret purchases, leading to those pesky emotions known as shame and guilt.

Before you go hiding under a rock, vowing never to come out again — please don’t, the world needs your awesomeness — keep reading to find out what you can do to curb impulse shopping.

Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes. It’s not helpful to dwell on them and beat ourselves up on the past.

The more negative self-talk you engage in, the more you’re going to shop impulsively again. If you feel like you can’t escape the wrath of the Target run, you’ll end up blindly going into the store and tossing unnecessary items into your cart.

If you end up overspending, take some time to tell yourself it was a mistake and that you can become better with your money. One step at a time.


Notice Your Urges

… Shopping urges that is.

When you feel the need to shop — and it’s not because you ran out of toilet paper — take note. You can even go as far as marking it down in your note-taking app or a journal. The idea is to draw attention to it so that you can stop and think about why you feel the need to shop.

In most cases, the reasons are emotional. Maybe you’re going through a stressful time and want to do some retail therapy. Or you’re feeling a bit insecure at your new job and want to impress your coworkers. It could even be as simple as you celebrating your birthday, leading you to buy things you weren’t planning on purchasing.

Avoid Temptation

  • Here are some simple tricks to avoid the urge to buy things in store or online you don’t need: Block websites of your favorite retailers
  • If you need to purchase something, see if they have a pickup service, so you’re less tempted to be swayed by shiny displays
  • Don’t go to the mall
  • Give yourself a time limit when you do need to buy something, like 5 days to see if you actually want it
  • Take a different route to work if there are any stores you’ll see that may lead you to impulsively shop
  • Have hours where you’re not allowed to browse online (like past midnight, when you might not be thinking straight…)

Stick to a List

A lot of people end up making impulse purchase because they don’t have a plan. Of course, sticking to a list isn’t going to be 100 percent but at least it can help deter you by having something you can reference.

Sticking to a list will require you do some advance planning on your part. For example, if you go grocery shopping, check your pantry to see what you items you need. Or if you’re buying new clothes, write down the types of styles, color and clothing item before you go try stuff on.

Try a 30-Day Challenge

Gamifying your finances can be a fun way to work towards a better financial future. Call it a “shopping ban,” “spending fast,” or something more fun. Whatever you do, see if you can challenge yourself to stop impulse purchases for 30 days.

If you do, make sure you get as specific as possible. Maybe you’ll only purchase necessities, but nothing outside of groceries, bills, etc.. Or you want to stop clothes shopping for the next 30 days. Consider making some rules or guidelines on what you can and can’t purchase during the challenge.

When the challenge is over, see how you feel. What did you learn about yourself??

Have an Accountability Partner

Sometimes having an outside force can help you to stick to your goals. If you have a friend who you can chat all things money with and trust, challenge each other to stop impulse purchases.

This plan will have a higher chance of success if you make specific goals. Think about keeping each other accountable throughout a 30-day challenge (as mentioned above) or even having a weekly chat to talk about your thoughts around spending money.

The win-win here is that you can work towards a better financial future and help a friend out at the same time!

Bring Cash

You can’t spend money you don’t have, right? If you need to head into a store to make a purchase, bring only the cash you need and that’s it. That way you’re not tempted to buy anymore because you won’t be able to purchase it.

If you hate the thought of carrying around cash, consider using a prepaid debit or credit card so you can still limit the amount you spend.

Understand Your Why

Sounds super cheesy, but you can’t maintain a habit without understanding why you’re doing it in the first place. Sure, it’s a good idea to stop impulse shopping, but why is it important to you specifically? Do you want to save more money so you can replace your old laptop? Or do you have a bunch of credit card debt you want gone by the end of the month?

Giving a reason for changing your behavior will help keep you motivated during the tough times. And when you get through to the other side, you’ll be thankful you took the time to understand the why behind your finances.

by Sarah Li Cain

Article originally published at hicharlie.com