How to avoid impulse spending - MoneySense

How to avoid impulse spending

Impulse shopping may be fun, but it’s no joke.


Whether you call it “retail therapy” or “female bonding” shopping has become a Canadian pastime. And lest you think frivolous shopping only plagues women, note that according to a 2012 bank poll, men spend twice as much as women on impulse purchases.

The lure of the sale, the high that comes with acquisition, not having anything better to do, all lead to rounds of shopping that many people put on credit and then carry around for months, if not years. Are you spending the $310 a month on impulse items that the average Canadian spends? Do you even know?

If you’re not tracking your spending, you don’t. Doing mental math allows you to live in the delusion that you’re fine, only spending what you must. So you’re not carrying a balance on your credit cards or line of credit then? If you are, you’re likely one of the 59% of Canadians that indulge in impulse spending.

Shopping with a list doesn’t mean adding to the list as you walk through the mall or department store. It means sticking to the list. If you see something you want and it’s not on the list, you don’t buy it. You go home and add it to next week’s list. That’s what it means to take the “impulse” out of “impulse shopping.”

Have a particular weakness? Avoid those stores or sections of the store. Yes, I love yarn, so I only go into the yarn store when I actually plan to buy yarn. If I just go into to “see what they have,” I’ll walk out with stuff I hadn’t planned to buy because of a great deal or a must-have item. Love shoes? Stay out of shoe stores. Love clothes? Avoid clothing retailers like the plague. Love deals? Get rid of all those daily deal emails that pop into your inbox and have you browsing online in no time.

You know the old adage, never grocery shop hungry? Well it’s true. Go into any food retailer with an empty stomach and you’ll come out with more than you bargained for. The same holds true shopping with plastic. You’re more likely to buy on impulse when you’re using plastic than when you’re shopping with cash. So if impulse shopping is a problem for you, put the cash you’re planning to spend in an envelope and write your list on the front of the envelope. Leave the plastic at home.