10 Ways to Stop Impulse Spending


Impulse spending may seem fun in the moment, but later it feels like a financial hangover. Buying stuff when you’re bored, in a bad mood or because you deserve it, tends to do more harm than good. Here’s 10 ways to curb impulse buying and stop excessive spending.

10 Ways to Stop Impulse Buying

1. Recognize shopping habits by tracking spending

When I sat down and added up all my spending, some of the categories were shocking. Sometimes, that’s just we need to get ourselves under control again, a good jolt to our systems. By tracking what you spend your money on, you will recognize your shopping habits and weaknesses. This is one of the first steps towards curbing impulse spending.

2. Carry a little cash for “fun money”

Physical cash is a finite resource, and once it’s gone you can’t buy anything else. I like to carry some cash in my wallet for a little fun money (meaning it has no real purpose), and I can spend it on anything I like. Carrying cash lets you indulge a little, without letting you go overboard.

3. Don’t compare yourself to your rich friends

Comparing yourself and your financial situation to your rich friends is a surefire way to feel and envious and ungrateful for what you have. Don’t try to keep up with your friends who (appear to) make more money than you. In all likelihood, they are out of control with their spending as well.

4. Ask yourself if it’s a Want or Need

Before making any purchases, stop and ask yourself if it’s a Want or a Need. Needs are for things like shelter, food and clothing. Wants are things we can live without, and for the most part don’t need at all. When you’re thinking of buying something, ask yourself if can you live without it – or at least until you save up the money to buy it.

5. Always plan ahead and bring a list

Anytime you enter a store you should have a purpose and a plan, not aimlessly walk around with money burning a hole in your pockets. I notice that I waste both valuable time and money if I don’t plan ahead and make a list. Then, if it’s not on the list don’t buy it!

6. Avoid friends who influence you to impulse buy

If you have a problem with overspending, you definitely don’t want to be around people that influence you to constantly spend and shop. Surround yourself with a few frugal friends who will help encourage smarter spending habits.

7. Unsubscribe from email/mailing lists

We live in a nation full of clever marketing and constant advertising (I call it noise). When it comes to email and mailing lists, “out of sight and out of mind” is the best policy. Unsubscribe from all email marketing lists, and not only will you save yourself from temptation, you will clean up your inbox/mailbox. I like to go even further and unsubscribe from shopping and clothing magazines too.

8. Challenge yourself to do something drastic

If you haven’t built up the self-control to curb your own spending, challenge yourself to do something drastic. Do something crazy that forces you to change your shopping habits. Try freezing your credit cards in water, challenging yourself to a spending diet or only use cash for the next 30 days. Whatever it takes to make a change and get your control back, do it.

9. Leave credit cards at home

Plastic can be dangerous, if you don’t have good self control. It’s too easy to spend now and pay later. If you plan to go out shopping, leave your credit cards at home. It’s much easier to avoid temptation all together, than to resist it.

10. Think about your long-term spending

Will $5 here and $3 there make a big difference today? Well no not really, but it will make a big difference if you do it every day, for a whole year. My brother recently realized this about his daily $5 energy drink. It seems like such a small purchase, but over a year he was spending over $1,200 on drinks! When you think of your spending over the long-term, it brings a lot more perspective.

How do you stop yourself from impulse buying and overspending?


3 Responses

  1. Ajay Dubey

    May 15, 2012 2:15 am

    First of all thank you for providing us such useful tips. We should learn to differentiate between needs and luxury. First we should try to fulfill our primary needs and then even after a certain amount of saving some amount lefts then you can spend it on luxury.

  2. Merchant Account

    May 30, 2012 4:42 am

    Great tips Carrie. Before applying all these steps. It’s important to accept the fact that there is overspending or a problem on impulse buying. Without this acceptance, drastic cut on expenses can be very miserable. What’s the point of having much money and living a miserable life?

    Making a decision is the first key. The rest will follow..

    Best regards,


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