Five ways to kick your impulse shopping habit

When we put up an Instagram story this month asking for your budgeting questions, one student’s plea really stood out to us: “how do I stop impulse buying?!”

We feel you. It’s massively tempting to “add to cart”, but when you don’t have the cash, that can cause some problems. So here are our tips to help you put down the debit card.

One: Shop with purpose

This is a big one: make a list. If you know you need an item and you have the budget for it, write it down so you’re more focused, accountable and on target. (It also saves time.)

Bonus tip: Don’t do your food shop on an empty stomach. The temptation is too 👏 damn 👏 much.


Two: Take the emotion out of it

We’ve all been there: you’re having a bad day so you buy yourself a little treat.

‘Retail therapy’ can give you a temporary mood boost, but it can also hurt your budget in the long term. To avoid that, it’s helpful to identify your triggers and stop yourself before you flash the cash.

If you think you really want an item, use a waiting period. Take a step back from the rack and ask yourself:

  • Why do you want it?
  • How useful will it be?
  • Which part of your budget will cover the expense (i.e. if you buy this, what are you not able to buy this week)?

More often than not you’ll notice you don’t need the item or you can delay buying it for another time.

Three: Use cash

This may not work for everyone, but you might find it helpful to use cash payment for a while, including any treats you’re pining after. This doesn’t need to be a permanent thing, but trying it for a while could help you reconsider how to use your money.

It can feel more significant to physically hand over cash because you feel more of a sense of loss than if you just plug in a credit card number or swipe a card. Another benefit? It also makes it harder to impulse shop online (especially if you only have a debit card).

Four: Ditch the credit cards

On that note – if you can, get rid of your credit cards and similar because these put off the cost of actually paying for the item to some time in the future, which is easy to pretend doesn’t exist.


Five: Take a social media break

Social media can be so persuasive. If you’re watching influencers online and feeling the pressure to keep up, try disconnecting from social for a while by turning off your phone or deactivating your accounts temporarily. That way you’re less surrounded by and bombarded with advertising.

Tip: Unsubscribing from (often relentless) retail emails means less temptation.

Need more advice?

Come chat with UCSA’s super-friendly Advocacy and Welfare Team. You can find their contact deets here.


Disclaimer: Info in this post is intended to be general budgeting tips, and does not constitute formal budget advice. 

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