If you’re trying to figure out how to stop impulse buying, then the only successful way is to work with the personality you have (and not the personality you want) to curb the impulse.
I’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people work around their personalities to get the results that they want. It’s the only way to create lasting change.
Your personality was set in your formative years and without a major fear factor or some pretty serious medical issues, it’s unlikely that your personality will change significantly over your life.
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Everyone has personality traits that they wish they didn’t have.
Mine was/is being impulsive.
When I get an idea in my head, it’s next to impossible not to act on it.
Which is great… except when you’re trying to pay off debt and most of the ideas in your head cost a ton of money (and many of them have a high likelihood that you won’t follow through.)
Example of Impulse Buying
Every year for about 8 years… I convince Jon that I want to garden. THIS is the year that I’ll be successful.
I mean, of course, I realize that for each of those 8 years I’ve said that and spent a bunch of money on plants, gardening supplies, and tomato stakes… only to completely disregard the garden until we had a yard full of rotting tomatoes which Jon then has to go out and clean up (even though I left the mess).
The truth is, I’m the type of person who gets very excited about the “concept” of being a gardener but has difficulty with the realities of actually being a gardener.
Meaning, weeding the garden and figuring out watering isn’t nearly as fun in practice as it is in my head. (This year I gave up and asked for an AeroGarden for Christmas. I get to eat homegrown salads with cherry tomatoes and it’s impossible for me to kill).
Impulsivity is a trait that I see a lot in my readers and frequently, people ask me how to change it. How can they become less impulsive? Usually, they want to change it so they can learn how to stop impulse buying.
What is Impulsivity
“Impulsivity” (which is actually Quick Start in the Kolbe A Index is arguably one of my greatest strengths. And it may be yours too) means that when I decide to start something, it gets started. The opposite of impulsivity is someone who is extremely deliberative.
This is the person that can debate the merits of starting a garden for 8 years but never actually start it because they’re not sure the time is right or that they’ve fully invested in the plan.
- To an impulsive person: Someone who deliberates each purchase can seem superior.
- To a deliberative person: Someone who “gets things done” quickly can seem superior.
In actuality, both are strengths and the grass is always greener on the other side.
There are countless projects and improvements that my impulsivity has helped me start (including this blog) which have changed my life for the better.
So, the question isn’t “how do I become less impulsive” (because impulsivity isn’t a bad thing and you can’t change it anyway).
The real question is “how do I stop impulse buying easily working with my personality?”
Hint: Working with my personality is what helped us reduce our spending by over 23,000 a year, pay off our over 30,000 of debt and let me quit my job to stay home with our kids while we did it.
Here’s what I’ve found works really well when trying to figure out how to stop impulsive buying.
Omitting errands made the most significant difference in how to stop impulse buying. By building a stockroom and using 2-day delivery, I omitted almost every trip to Target. This means I don’t need to find the willpower to say no to the things I suddenly, desperately need (that I didn’t even know about an hour ago).
For larger projects (like the garden), identify the people in your life that are extremely deliberative and can talk through your plans.
Not to have them talk you out of it (who knows? Your garden may be epically amazing). But to find ways to mitigate the risk (like creating an easy to dispose of container garden for this year to see how you like it, limiting both the cost and the removal effort if it goes wrong).
You may still end up doing it and that’s okay, but you’ll go into this thinking a little harder about the risks.
Again, we don’t want to change the fact that you think big or get stuff done. We just want to add a slightly different perspective.
The easiest way to work with your unique personality is to incentivize everything. If you need to reduce grocery spending, then make it so you can keep 20% of the savings. So, if last month you spent $1,000 and this month you spend $600, you get to keep $80 to spend on whatever you want and $320 goes to savings or debt repayments.
Incentivizing your savings means your brain now knows it’s possible to do what you want to do without blowing your budget. But if I were to say “you have to take every single extra cent and put it into savings,” then your garden (or whatever you want) is impossible.
Which is fine for someone else, but we both know you’re going to do it anyway. So you just blow your budget.
Having incentivized spending money gives your brain a way to achieve your goals and still stay on track.
I am constantly amazed by the ingenuity of readers (and myself) who had never stuck to a grocery budget for years. When you introduce incentive spending, suddenly they’re hundreds of dollars under budget and it seems easy.
It’s because we’re using that “I will find a way to do this” personality to benefit our bigger goals instead of trying to dampen it.
A wants list is a carefully curated list of all the things you want. It’s a huge MUST if you want to focus on how to stop impulse buying.
It can be a visual list, kept on something like Instagram, Pinterest or Evernote with screenshots or links, or just a list in your planner. It means that if you love shopping, then you continue to shop but instead of buying, you add it to your wants list.
It’s not a wish list of things you want but will never buy. It’s a list of things you will buy for sure. When you get incentive money coming in, you look at your wants list and choose which thing you want the most.
This means that you have a giant list of things that motivate you to save more money (to increase your incentivized spending (commonly referred to as blow money). And you are also considering ALL of the things you want and making a decision based on seeing those things before you blow your money on something you don’t really want.
Whatever your financial situation, I want you to know that your impulsive spending isn’t a flaw. It’s part of what makes you the person you are.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t harness it for positive change. Does this make sense to you? Have you ever tried this before?
P.S. Ready to learn more workarounds to your impulsive personality? It’s a lot easier than you think! Let’s get started with the “90 Day Budget Bootcamp” a step by step budgeting program that teaches you how to work around the personality you have and actually stick to a budget.
You can get access to the 90-day Budget Bootcamp for FREE here!
“I’ve tried every budgeting program imaginable. I never stuck with it for more than a few weeks. I stumbled across the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp and loved how she approached budgeting based on your unique personality. Not only did we complete the 90 days, but we’re going on 4 years of budgeting success and we’ve been debt-free for a year!”
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Thanks for the post! I especially enjoyed the focus on impulsive buying.
I think one good trick is actually kind of the opposite of one point you mentioned: using 2-day delivery.
Canceling that Prime membership and other speedy delivery memberships, or shopping memberships like Costco help reduce the feeling of needing to “get the value of the subscription” back out of it.
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