How to Conquer Impulse Shopping Syndrome

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How to Conquer Impulse Shopping Syndrome

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It happens to all of us. We come home from a day on the town with more than we intended. Impulse shopping is something we all fall prey to from time to time. But when impulse shopping tendencies become a full-on syndrome, we need to find ways to conquer it.  

Deana has a huge problem with impulse shopping. She goes out in search of a white shirt for work, and comes home with three other pieces of clothing, none of which is a white shirt. Then she searches for some new pillows, and instead buys kitchen appliances, an area rug, and even a coffee table.

Deana can't help herself while she's in the store. She loves the thrill of buying something new, and gets a wave of satisfaction in walking out of a store with bags in her hands. But once she gets home, unwraps her purchases, and incorporates them into her life, she realizes she doesn't really need them, and isn't any happier for owning them. In fact, she's miserable...because she's drowning in an ever-increasing pool of debt.

Here are two techniques to help you conquer impulse shopping syndrome:

Create a Cooling-Off Policy

Deana recognizes her penchant for purchases, and can't bear to deny herself the satisfaction of coming home with things. But she also realizes that more often than not, she doesn't actually need what she buys. Her over-stuffed closet is evidence of this fact!

So, she now has a cooling-off policy. On arriving home with her new loot, she doesn't allow herself to even open the bags or look at the purchases for two days. On the third day, she opens the bag and looks at her new goods, but doesn't take it out of the package or cut the tag off. She simply looks at it.

Over this three day cooling-off period, she's had a chance to think about what she bought. Does she really need it? Will it improve her life? And is it in the budget? She usually knows even before the third day rolls around whether or not she really wants this item.

A crucial component to her cooling-off policy is that she always ensures that whatever she buys she can return for a full refund. This way once the cooling-off period is done and she realizes she doesn't really want the item in question, she can return it, no questions asked.

If the item Deana wants to buy is on final sale, then she sports a stiff upper lip, leaves it in the store, and goes through the same two day cooling-off routine. Two days later if she can't get the item out of her mind and can justify the purchase, she goes back to the store to buy it. She says it's a way more satisfying purchase in the end, but requires more discipline to leave it in the store to begin with.

Freeze Your Purchasing Power

Because Deana actually prefers to leave the items in the store and have her cooling-off period without the hassle of returning something for a refund, she now likes to freeze her purchasing power...literally!

Open up her freezer and you'll see a plastic bag full of frozen water. But look a little closer at this block of ice and you'll see something suspended in it: her credit card!

Because credit cards are an impulse shopper's best friend (or worst enemy, depending on your perspective), it's best to delay the purchasing power they contain. You can leave them at home in a drawer, but it's too easy to grab them in a jiffy if you either anticipate you'll be going out and just might see something you "need," or run back home to get your card before you can truly "cool off" from the excitement of the impulse purchase at hand.

By freezing your credit card in a block of water, you're forced to cool off - or rather, warm up! Defrosting the card buys you time to determine whether the impulse item at hand is truly a necessity.

But please, don't cheat; microwaves are bad for credit cards!

Related Posts & Articles:

5 Tips to Keep Spending Under Control

Balancing the Needs of Tomorrow with the Desires of Today

 Vacationing Without Traveling: Taking an Effective "Staycation"

Nora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • But despite this "flawless" plan, everything fell apart in December. Here are five reasons why you shouldn't do your Christmas shopping early!

  • Well, for obvious reasons, for a long time my "can't say no" was credit cards. I was young, and they were great; I could buy what I wanted, when I wanted, and nothing came out of my bank account!

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  • I finally found a name for my shopping habits, IMPULSE SHOPPING HABIT.  Yeeeeep, this is me.

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