Are You an Impulse Spender?

impulse spender

Are you an impulse spender? Do you spend money because it is fun to spend? Do you often find yourself looking at your receipts and wondering why you bought 4 new pairs of shoes when you already have a closet full? Or if you’re a guy have you ever bought new tools just because you thought no one can have too many tools in their garage?

Impulse spending can happen to anyone. For many it happens when they go to the grocery store hungry and typically without a grocery list. They buy everything in the store because it looks delicious.

Others may not be able to drive by a furniture store without stopping in for a look. They love spending money on new furniture.

Everytime they walk into a large furniture store they head straight over to the TVs and convince themselves that they need a new, bigger, skinnier, better TV because they are just dying to replace the TV they bought 2 years ago.

Or they go over and sit on all of the sofas to see if they can find one to buy to replace the one they bought last year that isn’t as cushy as it appeared to be in the store.

Then there’s that quick trip to Lowes for just one item, like a new screwdriver, or such.

Picture it - A husband and wife enter the store.

Wow, take a look at that shiny new BBQ, they say.

You know we could use one of those.

After all ours is 4 years old and it’s an eye sore because we never feel like cleaning it.

Let’s just get a new one, and then we don’t have to worry about cleaning the one we have.

And while we’re at it, let’s get that giant umbrella for our back patio.

It’ll look so nice out there in the summer, even though we don’t really spend much time out there.

But you know honey, if we are going to get a new umbrella and a shiny new BBQ, then we really need to get new patio furniture.

And look the patio furniture is on sale today.

Let’s get it! Let’s get it all now! Honey, this is so exciting. Hurry up and get your credit card out.

And so it goes...

Does that scenario sound familiar to you? How often have you walked out of a store after spending thousands of dollars, even though the item you really went in for was only $19.99?

If you are a repeat offender when it comes to impulse spending, here are some questions you can ask yourself and your spouse the next time you find yourself considering large unnecessary purchases. These questions may help you to rethink your spending.

Before you pay for that next item, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I buying this only because it is on sale?
  2. Am I buying this because it looks so nice?
  3. Am I buying this because having new things makes me feel good?
  4. If I charge this, can I pay it off at the end of the month?
  5. Would I make the trip back here tomorrow to buy this?
  6. Can I afford this?
  7. Do I really need it, or do I just want it?
  8. Will buying this put me over budget this month?
  9. Am I buying this because I am too lazy to fix what I have?



    • Money Beagle

      Money Beagle 07/26/2012 7:40 a.m. #

      That's a pretty wild example but I suppose it does happen. I think we all impulse shop to a degree. I know my wife will often buy a shirt or other article of clothes either for herself or one of the kids, but at least those are a lot more manageable in terms of cost than a new grill :)

    • bogofdebt

      bogofdebt 07/26/2012 8:14 a.m. #

      I used to be a pretty bad impulse spender. I even knew that the racks set up at the cash register or the displays are for impulse grabs (as I was working in retail) but I still fell into the trap. Working off a budget and lists, I'm much better at not impulsivly buying.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/26/2012 10:01 a.m. #

      @Money Beagle - Wild impulse shopping like that happens a lot. especially when furniture stores offer "buy now pay later".

      @bogofdebt - yeah, the stuff at the cash register is just meant to suck us in. :-) I use to buy magazines like crazy every time I got near a grocery store register.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances

      Justin @ The Family Finances 07/26/2012 10:37 a.m. #

      For the most part, my wife and I do a good job of avoiding impulse purchases. We make a list and usually stick to it. One thing we end up doing fairly often though is stopping for ice cream at Dairy Queen on our way home from errands and such, which technically would be considered an impulse purchase.

    • femmefrugality

      femmefrugality 07/26/2012 10:46 a.m. #

      I'm totally not. I get buyer's remorse and find myself returning things that actually would have utility in my life more often than not. But the boyfriend is.... :)

    • Holly@Clubthrifty

      Holly@Clubthrifty 07/26/2012 11:13 a.m. #

      Although I was never that bad of an impulse spender, I have made plenty of impractical purchases.

      I do know plenty of people who spend everything they earn plus some on "stuff."

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/26/2012 11:21 a.m. #

      @ Justin - Did someone say Dairy Queen?? Let's go!

      @ femmefrugality - Yes, you and others are very good at stopping yourselves from spending. Something I have yet to master.

      @Holly - yes, I have made plenty of bad purchases as well. We always remember the bad ones, don't we.

    • Michael Anthony Lloyd

      Michael Anthony Lloyd 07/26/2012 11:31 a.m. #

      Great article, this really does apply to a lot of people...our economy is built on it! Thanks for taking the time!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/26/2012 11:54 a.m. #

      @ Michael - I completely agree! And thanks for stopping by today!

    • Katie

      Katie 07/26/2012 2:07 p.m. #

      My weakness is the dollar store. (Sad, right?) lol Every time I walk in there I walk out with something I wasn't intending to buy. At least its low cost impulse spending.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/26/2012 3:47 p.m. #

      @Katie - I could see how that could easily happen, especially when everything is just a dollar or two.

    • Money Bulldog

      Money Bulldog 07/26/2012 4:21 p.m. #

      Great Post Sicorra!

      When I have the money I tend to get excited and want to spend it. It's a bit like having a packet of biscuits in the house when you never usually have them, I can't help but eat them all at once.

      When I don't have it though I'm completely the other way and won't spend anything, to my wife's displeasure!

      I think I might have some kind of bi-polar spending disorder!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/26/2012 5:24 p.m. #

      @Money Bulldog - Your wife sounds like me, although I am trying to control myself more these days.

    • Shane @ Beating Broke

      Shane @ Beating Broke 07/26/2012 9:30 p.m. #

      When I was first learning about controlling spending, and debt, I found that impulse spending was one of the biggest problems I had. I've since curbed it. Unfortunately, I sometimes think it's just been replaced with other bad money habits!

    • Bridget

      Bridget 07/28/2012 12:27 p.m. #

      The only thing stronger than my impulse spending is my buyer's remorse that gets me to return everything the following week ;)

    • Kylie Ofiu

      Kylie Ofiu 07/30/2012 2:01 a.m. #

      I am not as bad as your example, but I have been an impulse spender in the past and every now and then if I get really depressed I know I need to stay away from the shops or I will spend.

      Sadly, I know A LOT of people who fit this profile. Constantly buying bigger, better newer, despite being massively in debt.

    • Jen @ Master the Art of Saving

      Jen @ Master the Art of Saving 08/02/2012 8:48 p.m. #

      I used to be an impulse spender, but I'm not any more. If we had money, that meant I needed to spend it right away---so glad those days are over with.

      That list of questions sure would have came in handy back in the day. :-)

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