Putting The Brakes On Impulse Buying

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By Jim Garnett

“Impulse buying” has become a contributing factor to why many people fail in their attempts to maintain a semblance of a budget. And what is impulse buying? It is “the buying of goods or services without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse.”

A recent study reveals:

90% of all shoppers make occasional impulse purchases that they didn’t intend to buy initially.
40% of all consumer spending is prompted by impulse buying.
54% admitted to spending $100 or more on an impulse buy.
20% admitted to spending $1000 or more.

Although we say we believe “money can’t buy happiness,” the primary reason listed for impulse buying is, “it makes me feel better.” There is no known vaccine to immunize us from impulse buying, but there does seem to be a simple method we can use to help us “apply the brakes.” This method utilizes memorization of one or two questions we ask ourselves prior to making a purchase.

Asking ourselves a question slows us down just long enough to catch our breath before we buy. Doing so has proven to be a great deterrent to blindly following our impulses. Choose only one or two questions from the list below, and practice asking yourself that question(s) the next time you go to buy something. You will quickly find that doing so will slow down the buying process and give you a chance to evaluate your financial choices better.

10 Questions to Slow Down Impulse Buying

1. Is this item on my list? Making a list before you shop is one of the greatest deterrents to impulse buying.
2. Am I buying this because of my mood (hungry, tired, angry, sad, guilty, bored, or excited)?
3. Am I buying because it is on sale?
4. How many hours must I work to pay for this?
5. How many times will I use this?
6. Am I buying this to impress somebody?
7. Where will the money come from to pay for this?
8. Do I already own something similar to this?
9. Could this item be out of style soon?
10. If I wait 24 hours, would I still buy this?

We are not advocating that every impulse buy is wrong. But since most of us work hard for our money, we owe it to ourselves to “stop and take a deep breath” before making quick purchases. If it is a good buy, no harm will be caused by “putting on the brakes.” Afterward, we will be thankful we did.