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A No-Guilt Guide to Reducing Impulse Spending

Impulse-spending is something that many people struggle with, often leading to feelings of guilt and regret.

  • Article
  • Money management

Fri Nov 4, 2022 by Ruth-Anne Klassen

Close-up shot of a woman holding a paper shopping bag

Impulse-spending involves money-spending activities that are not planned, and are usually driven by emotional or physical feelings (aka impulses) that are difficult to say no to. If this is something you’re familiar with, read the following tips.


Find out why you're making unexpected purchases

Make note of how you're feeling before you made a spontaneous purchase. Are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Did you complete a difficult task, and you're craving a reward for your hard work? Do you feel you need to participate in fashion or technology trends? Do you know it's an unnecessary purchase, but you just want it anyway?


Address the impulse

Once you have identified the real reason you feel like spending money spontaneously, you'll find you won't need to sacrifice your hard-earned money to calm your desires. There are other ways to meet any need or desire; they're just not marked as well as the goods sold in stores and restaurants.


Make it harder for yourself to spend money

Sometimes we spend without planning because spending is so easy. Try making your spending process more complicated, such as:

  • Delete shopping or fast-food apps from your phone.

  • Delete saved credit or debit card information from online shopping sites.

  • Freeze your credit card in a container of water (if in-person shopping and spending is an issue for you).


Compare the benefit of spending to the benefit of saving that money for something else

Sometimes when a spending impulse lands, it takes multiple tactics to calm it down. If you are still tempted to buy something, perhaps figuring out the real cost of the item, such as:

  • How long did you work to earn the money for the item?

  • What are the disadvantages of buying the item?

  • What is the meaning or value of this item for you?

  • Are you spending money according to your true desires?


Plan to spend money on treats

Instead of cutting out treats from your spending plan, plan to make some purchases that you can enjoy by yourself or with friends and family. This will make it more rewarding to reduce your spending for long. And you'll be happier while doing it. Also, if you practice resisting spending impulses, there might be more money for treats.


Pay attention to how you feel when you do spend money, impulsively or not

When you do spend money on something, expect full joy from the purchase! Either you'll get more out of the things you buy, or if they don't make you feel joyful, you might realize they're not worth your money in the future. Then you can make better choices about where you spend money. Notice how much you use the clothes you buy, or how much you enjoy an impulsive snack.

It can be difficult to save money when you really want to buy something, but the more you practice resisting impulses, the easier it becomes. And you'll be so thankful for the money you save, when you want or need it.

Spending less money on impulse purchases is a way to save up for what truly matters to you.