Esther Shaw

How to curb the impulse to buy

By Esther Shaw 05/11/2014

Do you have trouble denying yourself the occasional treat? Read our tips on how to rein in the urge to impulse buy.

Impulse buying can really make money slip through your fingers. Although sometimes it's nice to treat yourself, if you find that your 'treats' are draining your bank account, here are a few simple ways to curb the urge to splurge.

One of the easiest ways to fritter money away without realising it is by paying for everything on your debit or credit card. Next time you go shopping, take out however much cash you'd be willing to spend and don't go over it. Not only does it make it easier to stick to your budget, but handing over a wad of cash instead of a little bit of plastic is surprisingly effective at making you to think 'do I really want this?'

Even easier than paying by card on a shopping trip is online shopping. A few clicks here and there and voilá: you've spent a good chunk of that month's pay. Next time there's something you're keen to buy, add it to your online basket – and walk away. Leave the items in your basket (or 'save' them – different stores will have different options) and sleep on it. If the next day you still definitely want it, then go ahead. If not – it was probably just an impulse buy.

While not quite the same as impulse buying, panic buying is another big money burner. Trying to find a wedding outfit the day before the event will likely result in you purchasing something you'll never wear again. If you know you’ve got a wedding coming up, even if it's several months away, keep an eye out for an outfit whenever you are shopping. If a few days before the wedding you still don't have anything, just accessorise differently. For instance, a bold pashmina will give a favourite dress a new twist.
And never underestimate the power of lists. Christmas shopping time is almost upon us, so jot down who you need to buy for now, and how much you want to spend on them. Each time you get a present idea for one of them – also write it down. Then have one designated day where you buy everything in one go and don’t deviate from your budget. If there are a few stragglers who you have no idea what to buy for – nice food and drink gifts always go down well, and don’t break the bank.

You don't need to go cold turkey to get a handle on your spending, just try these few simple tweaks. You may find they have a significant impact on your spending. If you'd like to delve deeper into your finances and create a bespoke budgeting plan, head to our new Savings Calculator.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.