I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it…most probably.  We go into a grocery ravenously hungry and we exit with all sorts of foods we’d never buy had our stomachs been full.  We enter a clothing store and head straight to the sale rack but then wander around and end up at the register paying 10 times what we meant to pay when we arrived.  It’s called impulse buying.  There’s nothing wrong with it once in a while, if funds are there, and fun is to be had.  However, there are some ways to curb it this season, when we have to be so purposeful with our budget and gift-buying. 

Impulse buying can be so much fun – don’t get me wrong.  But it can also be so much pain – if we do it too much.

Here are a few tips on keeping the impulse buying at bay:

  • Place the items in your cart, walk around a while, and then think.  Do you still think you need that first item you placed in there an hour ago?  Many times, I change my mind. 

        Recently, I stuck a fancy jar of cinnamon sticks in my cart only to remember later that I had them already at home, and had just bought          a package of mulling spices at a farmer’s market.  Which brings me to my next note…

  • Remember that little things add up.  Haven’t you gone into a store thinking your cart only amounted to $100 and then paid, and were told it was $200? Yikes!  This can be avoided if we use our phone to add up our purchases before we step into the checkout line.  We might realize that a few of the things we threw in were impulses - not really necessities.

  • Make a list of those impulse things you want.  Now is the time of year to list!  Keep a running list in your notes on your phone of the impulse items you placed in your cart and then put back.  Place them on your Christmas or birthday list for someone else to gift you, OR for you to return and buy when you have some funds to do so!

  • Look for coupons on line.  If you feel it might be an impulse purchase that you don’t really need, search for a coupon on line.  Ask at the register if there is one available.  If there is one, maybe that purchase can still be made.  If not, maybe wait until a coupon is available, and then purchase that item with a smile.

  • Take a frugal person with you.  Not a kill-joy, but a sensible shopper that you can bounce your ideas off of.  Maybe you see this unique top that’s calling your name, but she reminds you that you have told her that color looks bad on you, or she might ask what you will wear it with, and your answer to both questions might make you stop and realize it’s not really a practical buy.  (However, once in a while it IS a great buy and you might both agree – and you’ll buy it – that’s okay!)

  • Go in to the store with a budget in mind.  Better yet, take a certain amount of cash and leave your cards at home.  That way, you won’t overspend.  We gone to festivals before and taken cash and decided ahead of time what we will spend.  It does help to plan before you go.

  • Impulse buying on a big price item is not always a good thing, unless it’s thought over, talked over, and agreed on the necessity of it.  Spending large sums of money that is not all your money is not a good relationship builder!  It never hurts to make a call, ask for advice, and agree together on a large purchase, before impulsively buying.  If he NEVER says yes, or you both ALWAYS buy too much, then seek help from some good friends and ask for accountability.

  • If it’s cute, it’s one of a kind, it’s something that really speaks to you and your shopping buddy agrees - then purchase it, without regret.  I just stuck a little metal tree with “joyful” written on it my cart and kept it there.  I wanted the reminder this season to be joyful, and with that little tree nestled among my décor, it would be there to speak to me.  It was not much money, and I went ahead and got it.


There’s no shame in seeing things we impulsively want to buy, but there is a lot of wisdom when we stop and think and consider before purchasing.  Shopping is one of my favorite things to do.  But coming home and being broke afterwards is not a fun experience, so I try to mindful…at least most of the time.

Impulse Buying
by Marcy Lytle

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