February 17, 2023

Tips to Stop Impulse Spending – Pause, Ponder, and Put It Back

Valerie Mellema
Fortune 500 Editorial Contributor

Impulse spending happens because it’s supposed to—in the capitalist world, getting people to spend as much money as possible at your business is the ultimate goal. For decades, all kinds of businesses have been using impulse items, or items/services offered on a whim, at the checkout, or in a fleeting moment when the consumer is already in “yes” mode, and they’ve been quite successful. There are even some consumers who admittedly avoid stores or take certain precautions because they know they’re a prime target for impulse marketing. 

The good news is that you can beat the system if you want to curb your spending habits. Impulse items are exactly that—things that you might need, but wouldn’t necessarily put thought into buying, or things that you don’t necessarily need, but that you want because they’re eye-catching and appealing. So, the best way to stop your impulse spending habits is to start by being aware. 

Here's what you need to know. 

Just Say “No”

Although it’s much easier said than done, telling yourself “no” is probably the most direct, straightforward way of curbing your spending. Give yourself a light mental hand-slap, if you will, as if you were reprimanding a child for touching something they shouldn’t. Whether it’s the checkout line at the grocery store or the Facebook Ads that get you every time, if you can practice self-control, that’s the best way to go. 

Of course, some people are more drawn to impulse items, so this may not be a solution that’s as easy for them to execute. If you need more help or different strategies, read on.

Stop Using Digital Payments and Clear Your Saved Accounts

Having everything linked digitally is awfully convenient. It’s also going to make it far too easy to spend without realizing it and not monitor your budgets. You could struggle with saving because everything is just a click or tap away. Thus, if you’re really trying to beat the impulse buys, you should consider deleting all of your saved cards and accounts. That way, it’s much more difficult for you to complete a transaction. You have to go get your wallet, enter all the information, etc.—sometimes by the time you’re done filling out all the information, the impulse has passed, and you change your mind. 

Not only that, but you’ll be increasing your privacy and the security of your financial information when you remove it from your smartphone, computer, or other devices. Sure, there are security features in place. But even if you’re using fingerprint or facial recognition, hackers can still hack from their end. Plenty of people have had their accounts hacked just because they kept information stored on their devices.

Change Your Shopping Habits

If you’re an impulse shopper when you go out to the store for groceries or other household needs, consider making a list and ordering just what you need online. The pandemic has made it much easier to order items online and avoid the stores. It also helps people spend less on things they normally wouldn’t buy. Plus, it saves you the stress of trying to move through the crowds of people at the stores, and so forth. 

If you’re an online impulse spender, our tip above is the first place to start. You’ll also want to try to put a plan in place that will help you stop falling into the rabbit hole of online shopping in the first place. Consider logging out of accounts, limiting yourself to a certain dollar amount of online shopping, or even putting a time limit or counting on how many hours you can shop or stores you can visit in a certain period.

Pause, Ponder, and then Decide

Finally, the best thing that you can do is to pause before you buy anything. Impulse items will catch you off guard. They do that on purpose. However, if you get yourself in the habit of stopping and saying, “do I really need this?” or “why am I buying this?” you will find that you put items back or don’t even pick them up as frequently. It will take some practice for you to get used to pausing and thinking about your purchases, but once you get used to it, you will be practically immune to the impulse buy.


Anyone trying to save money or budget better can find room for improvement in impulse spending. It’s a habit many consumers have picked up, thanks to capitalist marketing, and it’s costing us billions of dollars each year, collectively. However, if you’re aware and willing to put in the work, you can reduce your impulse shopping and save your money for other financial needs and goals.

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