What is Impulse Shopping?
Impulse shopping can be defined as making an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment purchase.
Our culture of consumption encourages impulse buying through overt marketing efforts as well as subtle messages from our culture and community.
Let’s be honest: impulse buying might feel good in the moment. There’s that rush of scoring a “good deal” and acquiring something new and shiny.
But it’s somewhat like drinking… While you might enjoy a night out on the town, you’ll be dealing with the effects the next day. Similarly, the consequences of overspending hit us after the fact. We receive bills in the mail we can’t afford to pay. We stuff our houses with stuff that brings us no satisfaction. And we end up feeling more inadequate and more empty, rather than having our lives enriched and filled by the things we purchase.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Avoid Impulse Shopping
Before you purchase anything today, during the holiday season, or any day for that matter, pause and ask yourself these five simple questions.
1: Do I need this right now?
Note there are two parts to this question: the word need and the word now. Don’t buy anticipating a need down the road. The chances are that even if you end up needing it in the future, you will have long forgotten about purchasing it or where you put it!
2: Did I plan to buy this?
Always keep an ongoing shopping list. I don’t mean a list just filled with your immediate shopping needs, akin to a grocery list.
When you notice a gap in your wardrobe, note that on your shopping list. For instance, if you found yourself in need of a black blazer, but didn’t have one, add that to your shopping list. Similarly, if you think of a gift idea for your sister, make a note of that.
Bottom line: plan your purchases. To quote the famous Benjamin Franklin, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
3: Would I buy this at full price?
Otherwise said, “Would I buy this even if it weren’t on sale?”
If you are buying something just because it’s on sale, you’re not getting a good deal in reality. However, if something you already planned to purchase is on sale, then it’s a good deal!
Again, check that ongoing list of needs and wants we discussed above. If it’s on your list, that’s a sure sign that you planned to purchase this item. So, if you find it on sale, even better!
4: Why am I buying this?
Evaluate your emotions and feelings behind this purchase. Make sure that you aren’t trying to fill an internal void with external purchases.
Will this enhance my life (or the life of the gift recipient)? Does it fill a void in my closet, home, etc.? Will it be useful to me (or the gift recipient)?
In regards to buying gifts, ask yourself these questions. Is this item special? Is it unique? Is it thoughtful? Is it personal?
Purchase with a purpose and intentionality.
5: Can I afford this?
This point should go without saying, but just in case… Budget budget budget. Avoid overspending.
Though the momentary high of scoring a good deal may feel good, in the end, you’ll be left with that debt hangover if it wasn’t something you could afford in the first place.
Furthermore, don’t try to earn the love and affection and adoration of friends and family by buying them gifts you can’t afford. If they are real friends and loyal family, they’ll understand and appreciate a thoughtful gift more than an extravagant one you can’t afford.