4 Ways to Flog the Inner Impulse Shopper

Welcome to the time machine!  This was originally posted on December 16, 2009.

Impulse shopping kills.  Not literally, of course, but it stings.  You need to stop.  I need to stop.  We all need to stop.

Here’s how:

1. Use a list. Everybody tells you to shop with a list.  Nobody has problems shopping with a list.  How, exactly, does a list prevent you from buying something on a whim? A list keeps you from forgetting things, it doesn’t stop your from putting Terminator:Salvation in your cart.  Skip this one.  It doesn’t count.  No beatings for the inner impulse shopper means no honorable mention here.


Take 2:

3 Ways to Flog the Inner Impulse Shopper

1. Don’t Shop. I’ve found that it is almost  impossible to leave Target for under $100.  It’s too easy to grab a discount DVD or a small surprise for the kids.  My solution is to use Alice.com.   That’s right, I get my toilet paper by mail-order. With Alice, there are few opportunities for impulse purchases. I add the items I need, scan the deals for items I will need in the next few weeks, and have my wife review the cart for things I’ve either missed or don’t need. A few days later, there’s a big blue box full of deodorant, toilet paper and soap sitting on my front step. The manufacturer coupons are automatically applied and shipping is always free. I’ve easily saved $1000 in retail impulse purchases using Alice over the past few months.  Alice is my favorite shopping-dom. Full disclosure: The Alice links are all referral links.  If you click one and join, I will get 3% commission on your purchase for a year, and you will get a $10 credit after you spend $50 .

2. Set a goal and reward the goal – AFTER the goal is met. My wife and I have a goal to be out of debt in four years. We will enter 2014 free from debt.  No car payment,  credit cart,  or mortgage.  I have promised my wife that, in exchange for almost 5 years(we aren’t starting the process today) of frugal living, when we are done  and have saved a bit at the other end of debt, I will take her on a cruise anywhere in the world. A real, debt-free vacation.   AFTER we pay off all of our debt.  AFTER we save enough to make the trip without sliding back into debt.  This is the carrot instead of the stick.   If the carrot doesn’t work, you can always try the stick.  Not on your spouse, of course, but on the inner impulse shopper.  Beat that little jerk ’til he cries.

3. Make yourself accountable. If you’re married, make yourself accountable to your spouse. If you’re single,  go public with your frugality. “I’m a cheap bastard and I’m swearing off xxx until I’m out of debt.” Let your family and friends know what you are doing so they can be your support system.  I regularly call my wife from a store, just so she can say “no” to me. When we are ready to check out at a store, we find some out of the way location and go through everything in the cart to see if we really need it or if it was simply an impulse grab.

How do you flog the masochistic little demon in your wallet?

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    1. Your sense of humor is awesome! We flog the wallet demon by limiting our trips to the store and following a list…like really following it. We are not allowed to put anything in the cart that isn’t on the list until we call our spouse to verify its actual need…since we both hate cell phones in public, we really stick to our lists. 🙂

    2. I especially love the accountability strategy. Just like with AA you need someone who will tell you the truth…that’s a want, not a need.

    3. @Crystal: That’s great. I wish I had a bigger dislike of using my cell phone in public.

      @Ken AND @Crystal: Without the accountability piece, I don’t think we’d have come as far as we have. We’re responsible to each other, so I think it’s important that we act like it. 🙂

    4. Marriage seems to be a conglomeration of accountability, compromise, respect, humor, and teamwork…it’s alot of work, but it’s worth it, right? 🙂

      I also find it easier to not buy things when we have a financial goal we’re working on. Right now I want to pay off our house in less than 8 more years (before we’re 35).

      Yesterday I actually thought about this article and that goal and put back the 72 oz of Raisinets I had in my basket at Sam’s (plus I didn’t want to call my hubby). I only bought the Raisin Bran and medicine that was on the list and smiled when I realized I was talking myself out of the Raisinets OUT LOUD…*hahaha*

    5. Throw some frustration and tension into the mix and I think you’ve got it right. 🙂 It’s worth it though. Even when it’s hard.

    6. Funny post 🙂

      I’ve never actually been a big impulse shopper, not even at the grocery store. So, I don’t know. I love looking at stuff, but I guess I just don’t feel the need to bring it home with me most of the time 🙂


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