December 01, 2019

How to Avoid Impulse Shopping

Ask yourself these five simple questions as you do your holiday shopping

Thoughts on Responsible Holiday Shopping

Hey, y’all – Happy December! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. If you noticed, I didn’t inundate you will sale posts on Black Friday – and all weekend, for that matter! In fact, I didn’t post anything this weekend.

I’ll just be blunt: there is too much focus on consumerism, particularly this time of year. The pressure to buy, buy, buy is real. And I in no way want to contribute to any irresponsible spending.

Today, I’d like to go against the grain of most bloggers. While 99% of bloggers will be sharing Cyber Monday sales with you, I want to do something different with you. Let’s talk about responsible holiday shopping…

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.

Bottom Line

Let’s not acquire stuff just for the sake of having more stuff!

Let’s shop with intentionality and a plan.

Let’s give thoughtfully and purposefully.

Let’s value people and experiences more than things.

Finally, let’s spend responsibly, keeping in mind what’s important in life.

Happy holidays!

PS – if you liked what you read here, share it with your friends! Pin the graphic to Pinterest.


  1. Cassandra says:

    What a great post, Carrie! Thanks for sharing these five questions we should all ask ourselves this holiday!

    1. Thanks a bunch, friend! I love the idea you shared for what you’re giving your girls.

      Sometimes, less is more.

  2. Erin says:

    Right on, Carrie! I’ve scaled way back this year and appreciate this article so much!

    1. Good! Thanks so much for saying so, Erin.

      I don’t fault anyone who wants to shop. But I also want to be a voice out there that says it’s okay if you can’t or don’t want to spend or spend to excess this year.

  3. Megan says:

    LOVE THIS!!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and saying so!

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