The Science Behind Impulse Buying And How To Stop It

We know very well how easy it is to be trapped in the addictive impulse buying cycle, but equally as hard to fall out of. One moment, we decide we should put an end to this by avoiding sales and attractive deals only to be defeated later on by the same triggers. The first step to ultimately stop it is by understanding why we do it in the first place even when we are fully aware of how inconvenient it can make one’s life.


Human action could only ever be driven by either of the two forces: emotions or logical reason. Impulse buying decisions result from the former. We buy all these things with no practical purpose to compensate for situations that made us feel some unpleasant way. For instance, we binge eat when we feel stressed from work or we splurge on branded clothing out of a longing to be praised. The guilt comes later when we realize we spent loads on things that do not necessarily make us happy, but usually to mask an underlying issue that money could not have solved in the first place.


Another main motivation that leads us to impulse buy is our upbringing. Let’s take for example a person who’s been raised in a penny-pinching household. This person could grow up to adopt the same thrifty lifestyle had his parents taught him well the value of money. On the other hand, this could work to the disadvantage of the person, too. If his parents nitpick almost every expense he makes without any logical explanation, he might feel restrained. And so, when he gains free rein on his money and spends it according to his terms, holding back would be a challenge.

Lucrative Deals

People could also know better before grabbing seemingly lucrative deals. It is so easy to justify our purchases with a slashed price tag despite not having thoroughly assessed if the purchase is truly worth it only to regret later when finding the same item for a much cheaper price. Given these triggers to our impulsive behavior, here are fool-proof ways we can wean off from it:

Delay Gratification

As overused the term is, delaying gratification always works like a gem. Add those items to your cart all you want when payday or seasonal sales come but never check out on the same day. Give it a good 24 hours, if not more, think every item through if they can truly improve your life. If not, chances are you are buying these to fill a void that otherwise could only be solved if you dig deeper. In other words, it’s an issue that money alone cannot solve, your self-image or relationships, for instance.

That is why making a to-buy list is a great practice. Sticking to it prevents you from overspending and ensures that you have all you need. This is true for both groceries or luxury spending.


Now, this is up to personal discretion, but dedicating 60% of your monthly pay for expenses and saving the rest helps to keep you conscious of your spending. Since you have this fixed amount to work around, allotting for regular necessities such as food, transportation, and utilities will be second nature while feeling fulfilled knowing you set aside a decent amount for your future financial ventures. Withdrawing the spending money in cash, physically allotting them into your fixed expenses, and having control of it in the process could be a stretch, but you could also give it a try.

Still, don’t deprive yourself of spiritually nourishing experiences if you have an amount to spare from the monthly 60. Doing so from time to time will keep you from feeling restricted, which could make it difficult to stick to the saving habit in the long run.

Spend Within Your Means

As much as possible, ditch paying with credit. If anything, you are only paving a life of debt and, unless you can truly say you don’t use your credit card to pay for impulse purchases, relying on it too much almost always leads to untracked spending. Instead, apply for a debit card to keep your money. Not only could you track your expenses with it, but it’s also a definite way to spend within your means.

Rather than focusing on what you can buy now with the money you have, imagine the things you can afford in the future if you allow your money to grow. Think real estate, travels abroad, your retirement, and extraordinary experiences. Everything worth it in life requires a degree of struggle after all.

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