Money Advice: Impulse Buys to Avoid at All Costs

Don’t let mindless purchases drag you down.| Khosrork/Getty Images

Are you trying to improve your finances but still having a hard time making progress with debt? One reason you might be having a tough time is that you’re making too many impulse purchases. There are several purchases that can drain your savings and put you deeper in debt. Don’t fall for the trap of emotional spending.

Here are impulse buys to avoid at all costs.


Do you often buy yourself a treat for things like getting through a rough work week or simply because you’re having a bad day? Although you might hear people tell you to treat yourself, all those treats add up. It’s not necessary to reward yourself for every little thing. Instead of getting caught up in a cycle of instant gratification, learn to delay rewards. Make a habit of setting long- and short-term financial goals for yourself so you can put money toward the things that really matter.

Random purchases for the kids

Sure, you love your child, but your love doesn’t have to be demonstrated through purchases. Don’t cave in every time your child asks you to buy the latest toy or gadget. Explain that you’re on a budget and it’s important to stay within that budget, so that you can afford necessities like food, clothing, and housing. Your child might protest or get angry, but this is a small price to pay for financial stability. Also, use this as a teaching moment, so your child understands the importance of choosing between wants and needs.


It can be tough to steer clear of a sale, especially around the holidays. However, it’s not really a sale if you didn’t need the item to begin with. You’ll just drain your available funds and make an already difficult financial situation worse.

If you get a notification about an upcoming sale in your email inbox, delete it right away. If you read the email, you’ll likely convince yourself you need that new outfit or pair of shoes. Unsubscribe from those email lists until you’ve gotten your finances under control. And don’t tempt yourself to spend by browsing at your favorite stores.

Tips for avoiding impulse buys

  • Remove the temptation. As mentioned above, one of the best ways to reduce the temptation to spend is to delete emails from your favorite stores. If you receive store catalogs in the mail, call each store and ask to be removed from their mailing lists.
  • Plan your purchases. Before you go to the store, make a list of what you need. This way, you won’t purchase things that are really wants instead of needs.
  • Enlist the help of a money buddy. If you need to go food shopping, for example, but you know you’ll be passing by the mall on your way there, you might need something stronger than willpower to keep you from stopping by the mall and buying a few things. Ask a trusted friend or family member to go grocery shopping with you so he or she can hold you accountable.

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