How to Resist Impulse Buying

If you've caught yourself impulse buying, you're not alone. In fact, many stores depend on the impulse buy, because they know if you stick strictly to items you need (or worse yet, those on a list!) they aren't going to get as much money as possible out of you.

So although it's your responsibility to resist the impulse purchase, you aren't necessarily a shopping compulsive just because you can't seem to resist those last minute buys. Stores set themselves up to direct you into impulse buying. Not sure how that can be? Just keep reading!

Consumer psychology and the impulse buy.

More than any other type of sale, the impulse buy relies on creating a sudden and previously unconsidered want or need. If you are a shopping compulsive, you're very familiar with these: they come on you out of nowhere, and not just at stores -- at work, at home, in the car. Stores seek to mimic shopping compulsive behavior by creating environments that trigger our wants and needs.

Some of the tricks they use include:

-Stores, especially grocery stores, design their layout assuming you'll move in a counter clockwise pattern. They place the most common 'I just need to pick up' items (such as milk, bread, etc.) the furthest from the door, assuming you'll automatically head right and pass all of their other products, leading to impulse purchases.

-Stores line the checkout aisles with small, frequently forgotten items, like candy, batteries, and personal grooming items. As you stand in line staring into space, you're much more likely to pick up a magazine to pass a few minutes -- and much more likely to buy that magazine, too.

-Stores often deliberately create a confusing design. They walk a careful balance: they don't want you to get so frustrated that you give up and go home, but they do want you to have to wander through a few more aisles before you find what you're looking for. Again, the plan here is to have you think, oh, I could use some...

-Stores also place name brands higher up on the shelves (and child friendly items at child levels, training your kids to impulse buy, too!). If you're in a hurry, you're less likely to look down and see the less expensive brands.

Avoiding the impulse buy.

So how do you avoid an impulse purchase? Here are some tips:

-Forewarned is forearmed: notice these tricks, and don't let them pull you in.

-Know what you need before you go shopping. Lists are essential. Don't dawdle in the market: get what you need and leave.

-Make a strict 'wait a day' policy on any purchase over $5 -- if you still want it after 24 hours, go ahead. It's no longer impulse buying!

-Don't handle items you don't intend to purchase. If you don't need it, leave it alone.

If you follow these tips, you'll have a fantastic chance of resisting impulse buying and saving a lot of money!


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