How to avoid impulse buys

Miss Thrifty8 August 14, 2008

impulse buys

Holly, over at the gem-filled hollyisstoppingshopping blog, has a great list of top tips for avoiding impulse buys. Her suggestions include:

1. Carry water – I’ll never be able to say this enough, but fill a reusable bottle every day with water (from the tap is fine) or diluted juice and then drink it throughout the day. You’ll quickly find you’re less thirsty and that you won’t buy so many drinks on impulse.

9. Sleep on it – If you find yourself in a shop, about to hand over your hard earned cash (or not earned credit card) for clothes, shoes or a bag then stop and think about your purchase long and hard. Most stores are happy to keep items on layaway for around 48 hours. Ask the shop assistant if they can keep it aside for you then think about it overnight. Ask yourself the following questions: How often will I wear it? Does it go with at least 5 outfits in my wardrobe? Does it need any special cleaning treatment (EXPENSIVE!)? Is it similar to anything I already have? How many hours did I/will I have to work to pay for it? Use Money Saving Expert’s Demotivator to find out! If you wake up the next morning and feel that you still really need it, then go ahead, you’ve rationally thought it through and it won’t be an impulse buy after all.

Unfortunately one of the best tips – taking cash to the supermarket, so that you don’t overspend on your food shop – hasn’t been successfully implemented by yours truly. I tried it a couple of months ago, and it ended in disaster. Perhaps it’s because I only do a full-on supermarket shop once a month and store half the food in the freezer; I fill a trolley, rather than a basket. I went into the supermarket with my three crisp £20 notes ($60) and a pocket calculator. It’s true: I have no shame. I’m quite happy to wander around with a calculator, tapping in prices as I go, like the frugal geek I am! Fortunately it was Asda, so nobody really noticed me because they were all distracted by the 2p sausages and hordes of squalling children.

Anyway, about halfway through the shop I pressed the wrong button on the calculator and it all went to pot. I carried on adding prices to the shopping list in my head, but the glaring strip lights and vivid-hued cakes must have had a dazzling effect: when I got to the check-out, the trolleyful turned out to be about £2 over! I had to put some potatoes and peppers back, as the check-out assistant and the people behind me in the queue all huffed and puffed. I apologised and it would have been a red face moment, so I cunningly minimised embarrassment by telling the assistant that I only had cash because I was doing some shopping on behalf of an elderly neighbour. What was I thinking? Told you I had no shame! I shan’t be repeating this one.

Image credit: ironmal.

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8 Responses to “How to avoid impulse buys

I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
Very interesting posts and well written.
I will put your site on my blogroll.

August 14, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

August 14, 2008 at 11:15 pm

FruGal says:

The shame! That just made me laugh out loud in the middle of my office – my co-workers now think I am crazy. But thanks for brightening up my morning!

August 15, 2008 at 10:07 am

Writer Dad says:

Sleeping on it is the most important. I would say 90% of my impulse buys have been eliminated because that is now my main rule for almost every single non essential purchase. Thank you.

August 15, 2008 at 5:56 pm

admin says:

@Susan: @Aaron: aw, thanks guys!

@FruGal: yep, I disgraced myself! Again.

@Writer Dad: Absolutely! I agree. These days my only impulse buys are candy at the checkout and the discounted stuff in the bakery section. Not sure if the latter counts though, as many of the products are reduced to mere pence/cents!

August 16, 2008 at 1:12 am

Holly says:

Hi!! Thanks so much for your link to my blog and I’m sorry to hear your first “Cash Only” shop didn’t go to plan!

I try to take a little pad and paper with me to jot it all down and then add it up. I used to add in my head but then I had a similar incident to yours – eek! – but fortunately my sister was there to lend me the extra £1.06!

Try it again though, it’s a big saver for me.

August 20, 2008 at 11:36 pm

It was good you only passed on 2 pounds.

I heard also that being thirsty or hungry also triggers the overspending switch in us (because we try to fulfill this needs in other ways). So I think your first tip is very useful, even if you are not spending your money on drinks.

MyDebtRefinances last blog post..A Simple Habit to Save More Money

August 31, 2008 at 2:23 pm

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