One of the hardest things to do is stop yourself from spending money. We've all been there and it's incredibly hard to be frugal and save money when we live in a world encouraging you to buy everything and buy it now.

What is impulse buying?

Impulse buying is the concept of purchasing something you hadn't intended to. This is normally a purchase made in the spur of the moment, which can be categorised as sudden or unplanned.

It can be seen in products such as chocolate, clothes, mobile phones or tablets, and even big-ticket items such as cars or jewellery. The decision to buy a product such as this is sometimes irrational therefore, marketers will tap into this to try and encourage sales.

What are examples of impulse buying?

The simplest example is buying chocolate when you're food shopping. It's not something you need, it's not necessarily on your shopping list, but it's something you might pick up when shopping due to a series of triggers. You could have had a bad day, or you could be feeling a little down, why not have some chocolate to perk you up? It's as simple as that. 

How do I stop impulse buying?

It's difficult to stop yourself from impulse buying in these situations so here are several ways to stop yourself from buying:

#1 - Stick to your shopping lists

This seems simple, but we all make emotional decisions. We've all been in our local shop with a shopping list in hand and picked up something extra because we're a bit hungry, or maybe we're feeling tired and picked up something like an energy drink. The answer is to stick to your list. Make sure you take a list and outline what you need. 

#2 - Stop and think before purchasing

Sometimes, the simple things work. Let's say for example you're stood looking at a new TV. You may already have a TV, but there is a great deal on this TV. It's better than the one you have, it's bigger, it's got a better screen, it has built-in apps. You want this TV, but let's stop and think for a moment. Sometimes, we all need to take a moment and just really consider whether you need the product you're looking at. It may be shinier, it may be bigger and it may be a great deal, but you don't need it. Sometimes all we need to do is stop and think about the product we're looking at. Do you need it? It doesn't have to be a TV, it could be a chocolate bar, it could be a laptop, maybe a new smartphone. The reality is in a lot of cases, we don't need it, we want it. These can be large outlays, even chocolate bars these days aren't cheap! So stop and consider the impact this will have on your budget, what does that mean for the rest of the week or month? Yes, you could have a new shiny TV, but would that £300-500 have gone further elsewhere in your budget?

#3 - Set yourself some rules

The shopping list rule helps when you're out at the shops, but when you're at home scrolling on your phone and see some clothes on sale, or maybe a new video game, how do you stop yourself from impulse buying? A good rule is a 24-hour rule where instead of making a snap decision at the moment, tell yourself no. Wait 24 hours and reflect on the decision to buy the product. In most cases, the time will allow you to take a moment and make the decision that you may want said product, but you don't need it. Perhaps the sale on the clothes you want may be a good deal, but do you have the money to spend on it?

#4 - Avoiding temptation on social media

Most people these days use social media, I'm sure we all sit scrolling our phones for an hour or two a day. We all get served ads on social media, it's just part of using it. However, one thing social media does is encourage you to follow people, they may be famous, or they may be someone involved in something you enjoy. We all have hobbies, we all have interests, and we'll all follow people on social media as a result of that. That means that these people we follow will be on our timelines pushing products as part of those hobbies and we can all be influenced by this in some way shape or form, sometimes, it's completely unintentional. You could enjoy reading and follow someone who suggests books to read every month in a book club. That encourages you to spend money every month on a book. It may not sound like much, but if a book is £10, you could be spending £120 per year. The best way to stop impulse buying here is to unfollow those tempting accounts. It's a shame to stop following, but the reality is you need to protect yourself and your impulse buying habits from yourself. 

#5 - Create long-term goals

We've spoken a lot so far about short-term solutions. Now we talk about the long-term solution. What does impulse buying stop you from being able to do? Impulse buying stops you from saving money to put towards long-term saving projects such as buying houses. In order to get a mortgage, you would need a deposit which is no small amount of money to most people. If you have a long-term goal such as this, it can help you when taking the previously suggested steps. Instead of buying that new TV, stop and take a moment to consider that the expenditure could put you back in your goal to save for a deposit. 

Save your money!

One of the main reasons to stop impulse buying is to save your money! It's boring, it's hard but ultimately, saving your money in the long-term will be more gratifying than the short-term gratification of impulse buying. It also means that should something happen, let's say your boiler breaks down, it means you have the cash available to cover that cost instead of having to borrow to cover it. 

Financial discipline is difficult, and it's incredibly hard to stop yourself from impulse buying. But by using the steps above you can stop yourself from spending money you didn't expect to, and instead spend it where you need to!