When I go into a store, I can’t help myself. I always buy more than I planned.

Is that you? Do you have trouble with impulse buys? Maybe you see a sale, or find a great deal. You know that time is short, and you can’t wait. Even tomorrow could be too late. So you pull the trigger, and that shiny new thing is yours.

In a week or so, you pass by that “thing” in your house, and wonder why you bought it in the first place. Congratulations! You were just victim of your own mind to an impulse buy. And now you know why you’re usually over-budget.

An impulse is defined as: a sudden strong and un-reflective urge or desire to act.

If you don’t learn how to control yourself when an impulse strikes, your budget will be destroyed. It won’t matter how well-intentioned it was. Because you can’t really budget for impulse buys.

What Causes Impulse Buys?

The first part of the definition requires a sudden strong urge.

Retailers and marketers are well aware of the impulse shoppers. These are the ones that they prey upon. This is how they make their money. That rush of owning new shiny gadgets or fresh clothes motivates many to blow their budgets impulsively. And this is not an accident.

Retailers set up displays and signs to create those strong urges. They urge you to compare yourself to those people in the pictures or in the commercials. You would be happy if you purchased . . . They’re creating the emotional connection to you. They know that if they can connect emotionally in one way or another, they can create that opportunity for an impulse. They can create that sudden strong urge.

There is a whole science behind how marketers get people to move through retail and convenience stores. Wawa (convenience store on the east coast) has it down to an art with their store setup. They have designed their stores to get people to buy stuff and get out – fast.

But an impulse buy also requires the urge to buy to be un-reflective. Which means you don’t think about your purchase. You simply act. Without any thought to the consequences or cost. Because, if you actually thought about it, you would never buy that ridiculous kitchen appliance from the infomercial. How many of you have a slap-chop – that you actually use? Be honest.

Peer Pressure Creates Impulse Buys.

When I was a kid, I remember getting some money for Christmas and my birthday, and it burned a hole in my pocket. I wanted to spend it on . . . something, anything. I just wanted the feeling of spending money, and getting something new that I never had before.

Actually, at the time, what I wanted was a hacky sack. Because it was the new thing, and all the cool kids had one. Of course in a month or so that hacky sack that all the other kids had, and I now had too, was just collecting dust in my bedroom. I wasn’t really that good with it, and I didn’t want to take the time to practice.

Just in case you live under a rock, or don’t have kids, there’s a newer “thing”. Fidget spinners are the new version of the old hacky sack. Peer pressure and causes kids everywhere to want one.

fidget spinner

Just in case you were wondering, you can actually still get a hacky sack if you have the urge. And I’m sure you know that fidget spinners are everywhere.

Adult Peer Pressure

Peer pressure doesn’t disappear when you become an adult. Adult peer pressure just urges you to buy more expensive things – like smartphones or sports cars. In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have a smartphone (Moto G5+).

For instance, maybe you want the status that the newest F-150 may bring. So, without thinking it through, you drop $45k on a new truck. Or even worse, you take out a loan, because the payments aren’t that bad. Your impulse has torpedoed your well-thought-out budget.

In my opinion, the adult version of a fidget spinner is the iPhone. Except it’s way more versatile. Ok, I guess it’s not like a fidget spinner, but it is unnecessary. Think about it. A new model comes out every year or so. Is the newest iPhone really that much different from the model before it? Sure the new iPhone will order your groceries and likely cook dinner for you with the ingredients it just bought, but the old one can do that too.

Don't blow your budget on something you already have - that STILL WORKS! Click To Tweet

Retailers are Plotting to Steal Your Money

You’ve seen the lines to get the newest iPhone model. It’s crazy. So many poor fools are wearing apple-colored glasses. They are being dazzled by all the marketing speak. And wasting their hard-earned money in the process. All they know is that the new iPhone will change their life.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the iPhone or new gadgets, but plan your purchases and budget accordingly.

You see, the retailers certainly have a plan. And your money is the target. They will do whatever they can to get a part of your earnings. And when you willingly give up your money, you may think it’s your idea. But in reality, it was their plan all along. And once you buy that “thing”, the emotional high only lasts a short time. Then reality sets in, and you realize that it was a mistake. This is called buyer’s remorse.

It’s even worse if you bought that “thing” on credit. Now you’re stuck for months paying for something you don’t even want.

You Need a Strategy to Resist Impulse Buys.

Think of it as a game. They have a strategy, and you need one too. Or else your money will end up in someone else’s pocket. The easiest way to resist the appeal of modern marketing practices is to expose yourself to them as little as possible. Think of retail stores as enemy territory. Only go in when you absolutely have to, and when you do venture inside, only buy according to your budget.

You have to keep your budget in mind. If it helps, repeat to yourself what you are going to buy over and over while you’re in the store. People may think you’re crazy talking to yourself, but their net worth is probably lower than yours. Protect your cash, and never borrow against your future with credit.

A fool and his money are soon parted. -Thomas Tusser Click To Tweet

Don’t be a fool. Keep more of your money.

Do you have a problem with impulse buys? How do you combat the urge to impulse shop?

Let me know in the comments below, and please share this post using the social media buttons below.


Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.

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