How can I avoid impulsive shopping?

Shopping bags

Do you have experience buying stuff you seldom use, purchasing clothes not suitable for you, and consuming more than you need? Impulsive shopping makes people waste money for temporary joy and sometimes takes people into a personal financial crisis. Reasons for impulsive shopping vary. Understanding the reasons and knowing how to deal with them can help you protect yourselves from ruining your financial wellbeing and go shopping more rationally. The following are the reasons I hear, or I’ve used to justify impulsive spending. Or something like that!

1.      My friends all have it, so I need it.

There are always fashion trends among young people. For example, fashion trends, including new iPhone or iPad, Yeezy 350, YSL lipsticks, OFF-WHITE hoodies, MK bags, etc can take much of your money to persuade them. Even when these trends are not one’s favorite, a person will buy an item because it’s popular among their friends. Sometimes, people consume not because they need it but because they think others value it, and if they don’t follow, they will seem strange. My advice is to think clearly: do you need and like the item? You can give yourself three days to calm down and after that period if you still want to buy it and assure you can afford it without destroying your financial wellbeing, then buy it.

2.      They say that the product is awesome, so I buy it.

Superstars who wear a brand’s clothes look pretty not only because of the design of the clothes but also because of their stature. Beauty bloggers’ makeup is done well not only because of their cosmetics but also their faces and skills. Don’t consume immediately when you see the advertisements just because you believe if you wear the clothes you will look similar to the idols and if you use the same products as the blogger you can have the same skin or good makeup. My advice is to purchase the ones that are suitable for you. For example, my idol likes wearing Balenciaga, but I can’t afford luxury and I know my style is cuter; I will buy more Asian-style clothes. Also, I like watching videos to learn how to makeup but when they sell products, I only buy the reliable one that fits my skin and I do more research before I finally decide to buy one.

3.      I don’t need to save money, so I spend all.

Many people have no emergency fund because they are not aware of its importance. They spend all of their savings and even future income by using their credit card. By reflecting, they may find they spend time and money in useless places and when they need money, they have insufficient funds. My advice is to track your spending and set an account for emergency use by depositing into the bank or investing in short investments.

4.      I am under much pressure, so I need shopping to relax.

I am this kind of person too, but there are also other ways to relax such as working out. Doctor Weinschenk wrote on Psychology Today that we feel happy when we go shopping because when we do that, our brain secretes dopamine. Dopamine makes people happy. It means it's not the shopping itself which makes you happy, but the dopamine release. My advice is to find other ways like meeting new friends in clubs or learning a new skill that can create dopamine to replace impulsive shopping.

5.      If I don’t buy items on sale, I feel I'm losing money.

Last year, I bought $420 at Sephora because of their discounts. However, I found after one year, I still have much of my make up left. Have I saved money or wasted my money? What I learned from that experience is that I should make a list of items I plan to buy but not purchase something just because it is cheap. If I buy them but not use them, I am wasting money.

Impulsive shopping is common but for our wellness, we should try to avoid it. My final suggestion is that do not be enticed by smart businessmen. All you need to do is to defer your decision and think about your budget. Less impulsive shopping not only fosters your self-discipline but also prevents you from wasting money.

Written by Baiyu Li, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Fall 2019. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.