How to stop yourself from making impulse purchases

Many people are impulsive shoppers – they shop on impulse. More often than not, people hoard things they don’t need. (Rawpixel pic)

Many people are impulsive shoppers – they shop on impulse. More often than not, people hoard things they don’t need.

The consequences of this type of behaviour is that many get into credit card debt.

There are ways to escape from making more impulse purchases. Some would advise you to cut your credit card.

If you have a hard time controlling your spending, physically freezing your credit card may be the smartest thing you do right now.

Credit card

The best advice is to cultivate the habit of discipline spending. To control your impulsive behaviour, form a new habit to replace destructive ones like purchasing primarily by credit cards.

Credit cards are just financial tools. It is not dangerous until its users become reckless.

Now, imagine the process of considering a purchase. What’s going on in your mind at that particular moment?

You might be thinking:

  • “The discount is only for this weekend. I don’t want to miss it.”
  • “It is the last piece! The next person who sees it is going to grab it.”
  • “I have never seen such a deep discount before.”

All these are marketing gimmicks that mess with your mind with tales of scarcity and urgency so you will not be rational.

If you’re the kind who can’t control yourself, you’ll take out your credit card. Or withdraw the cash from the nearest ATM to make that purchase.

It’s high time you developed a new habit.

New habit

The new habit is to always ask yourself this question before buying something:
“Am I going to use it in the next three days?”

The time frame can be any length of period – 24 hours, one week – whatever works for you, but not too long.

The process is to get your mind to stop thinking about the discount, the sale or the feeling of owning an item. Instead, focus on the practicality.

If you are not going to use what you’re buying anytime soon, it is not going to provide value to you. It is not going to make you happier owning it.

Come back later to buy it when you really need it. The new habit will let your mind cool down.

Be practical and make wise and prudent spending decisions. You can always come back after two or three days and buy it if you want to.

At least that way you’ll be safe from committing mistakes and drowning in a pool of guilt. Use that time to do some research too if the items you are eyeing on cost a bomb.

This article first appeared in

KC Lau’s first book Top Money Tips for Malaysians has sold thousands of copies. He launched the first online personal finance course specifically designed for Malaysians, entitled the Money Automation System. He also co-founded many other online financial courses including the Bursa Method, Property Method, Founder Method and REIT Method.