8 Ways To Interrupt Your Impulse Shopping Habits

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We've gotten to November and Christmas is just a month or so away. Sales are coming out and cars are starting to fill up parking lots in anticipation for fourth quarter sales, deals, and powerful marketing displays. Impulse shopping is at an all time high! If you've been historically bad for the last few seasons, this season could bring out the worst in you.

Yes, you could buy all these gifts and more for your friends and family, and oh, maybe one of these for yourself and…

jealous2Our impulsive habits come rearing out when it comes to shopping, and sometimes we have no control. Why not get one of those shiny new phones? It just takes a swipe of a card. Unfortunately, behaviour like this often ruins bank accounts and credit ratings. Try a few of these ideas to curb your enthusiasm for retail consumption.

Practice window shopping

It's Friday and it's been a hard week – you feel like you need to treat yourself and you deserve nothing but the best. You can't wait to get to the mall to check out all the cool things you've been eyeing online over the past few weeks – whether it's Macbooks, perfume or clothes. Whatever your vice is, it inspires you and drives you.

But you already have a Macbook. You already have an assortment of makeup. You already have phone chargers, jeans, and shirts. The ability to go out shopping but not actually buy anything is a powerful tool of self control, and here's where it comes into play. Allow yourself to go to the mall and stores, maybe buy something small, but don't go all out like you normally would. Maybe you need a new phone, but do you need it now? Go out, use self control, and window shop to your heart's content. Build up anticipation for the things you want and put it off until finally the reward will be so great. In the meantime, you've saved yourself a lot of money.

Don't shop when you are stressed out

Retail therapy – truly one of the finer pleasures in life. If you have disposable income, retail therapy is surely up there with manicures, spa trips and other luxuries we can afford. The thing is, retail therapy is exactly what it says – it's therapy, meant to relieve us when we are feeling angry, irritable, sad, emotional, or whatever it takes for you to get the credit cards out. Save yourself a bunch of money and closet space and do yourself a favour – do not go shopping when you're stressed out! Limit your shopping trips to when you feel relaxed, zenned out and good with yourself. Don't do it as a release, do it as a treat for when you've overcome your difficulties.

Stick to the list

When we go grocery shopping we usually carry with us a little post it note or agenda, a list of everything we need so we don't forget anything. Use the same rule for when you go shopping for items as well. When we go clothes shopping, how is it that we may only need one pair of pants but walk out with eight pairs of underwear and two belts? Stick to the list and appreciate the satisfaction you get from buying only what you need and keeping the impulses to zero.

Only go luxury shopping every two weeks

Perhaps you should try a schedule for your shopping habits. How about this – for two or three weeks at a time, train yourself to only purchase necessary things. Only spend your money on things you need – food, petrol, transportation, housing bills – the bare necessities. If you've made it through to the intended duration, give yourself a treat and go pick up something nice for yourself. It's an easy and effective rewards system that you can practice on yourself at your own leisure.

Appreciate what you have

If you feel you are going way overboard – or even still, just being modesty with your shopping – maybe it's time to take a look through your house and just be grateful for what you have already. You have a nice couch, nice rugs, nice silverware, nice electronics and everything you need already. Do you really need more stuff to clutter up your house? Sometimes enjoying what we have already is a better feeling than buying new things, as we all know that after that feeling wears off, we're just left with a garage full of junk.

Keep an eye on your budget

If impulse shopping is cutting into your real-life savings fund, sitting down and taking a look at your bank statements is always a nice reality check for the savvy shopper. Where has all that money been going? A look at your credit card statement will let you know, and hopefully keep you a bit more grounded for the next time you feel like splurging out.

How do you feel at the checkout?

This is some real mind-over-matter stuff. You've gone through the whole store, and despite going out for just one t-shirt, you've got a buggy full of sale clothes. You're at the cash – take a look inside your cart. Do you really need all that? Don't you already have enough socks? Enough tanktops? Enough accessories? Just because it's on sale doesn't mean you have to buy it – there's only so many clothes we can wear in a day. Reflect on what you're there with, and remember there's no shame in saying no and putting something back – you might save hundreds of dollars when you least expected it.

Browse online

Instead of going out and shopping, try satisfying your cravings by just browsing online. It may lead to more impulsive shopping, but the fact that there are so many options, and that you will not be getting it right away may steer you clear. Instead of spending all your hard earned money, you may end up losing the appeal of it all and keeping your dollars instead. Use it as a way of researching what you really do and do not need, and use the "Wish List" feature to be able to sort of compile an idea of all the things you want, and save them for a special time. You'll feel better, and maybe learn something more about yourself and your desires.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.