How To Avoid Impulse Buying & Emotional Purchases

Photo: getty
happy man shopping
Self

Is impulse buying a common occurrence in your day-to-day life?

I was working with a client recently whose main floor of her home had been seriously damaged by a fire.

So when I arrived, things were literally everywhere — boxes piled nearly to the ceiling and other items strewn about without any thought to place or function. As you can imagine, my client felt completely overwhelmed.

RELATED: A Trendy Girl's Guide To Thrifting: 8 Smart Steps To Buying Cute Clothes On A Budget

Emotions are a component of impulse buying.

Our focus that day was on the master's bedroom, which was being used for storage, with temporary racks and laundry baskets overflowing with clothing for laundering, donation, sale, and trash.

There was no bed, no furniture — just piles and piles of clothes.

Before digging in, my client showed me a photo of a large TV stand she had purchased but not yet picked up from a friend.

I told her it was a great purchase. It was gorgeous and likely to fit well in the room. She got it at a great price, and we were going to be working on reclaiming her bedroom over the next few sessions. Definitely a good buy!

Then, after showing me the TV stand, she showed me a pile of picture frames she bought second hand from a Facebook Marketplace seller.

My client’s reasoning for buying these was that she knew she had a lot of photos to eventually hang and the frames were in a color she liked.

For the time being, however, the frames were in the living room, blended in with the array of miscellany remaining from the fire.

This, I told her, was not a great purchase because the room where the photos would go still needed to be de-cluttered, cleaned, painted, and refurnished.

Hanging pictures on the wall was months away and until then, they were just more clutter.

How often do you buy things without a real plan for where they go or when you’ll put them there?

The thing is, just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean that it must be bought.

You have to step away from the temptation you feel and consider other factors involved with making the right purchase at the right time.

RELATED: 10 Shopping Quotes That Prove A Little Retail Therapy Is All You Need To Feel Better

In the case of my client with her TV stand, she pretty much nailed it. The timing was great!

We were working on her bedroom, and this just happened to be available. The price was fabulous — only a friend would sell you something so gorgeous for that price.

The size was good for the room and it was a nice, neutral color, so it would match with her other décor.

Added bonus: The friend she bought it from was willing to hold onto the TV stand until it was time to move it into the room, so my client didn’t have to move it around when the room was being painted.

With the frames, on the other hand, nothing was particularly perfect except for the price.

Yes, the color was what she wanted, but she definitely could have found frames in this color at any other time. For now, all she was doing was adding to the clutter in an already cluttered home.

We all fall into these impulse-buying traps.

You're at the store and see something that just triggers you. Maybe it’s a color. Maybe it’s your emotional state at the time.

The moral of the story, however, is to keep in mind that everything comes with costs and benefits and it takes time to own stuff.

The five Ws of impulse buying.

The next time impulse buying tempts to make a purchase, pause for a moment, and consider the five Ws:

  • Who will use it?
  • What will it be used for?
  • Where will you put it?
  • When can you put it to use?
  • Why are you buying it?

If you go through these questions with a clear conscience, and the answer is still "Yes! I must have it!," then you’re likely to have found a winner.

If not, then leave it on the shelf or in your online shopping cart. Otherwise, you’ll be the one selling it on Facebook Marketplace.

RELATED: 6 Zodiac Signs Who Like To Shop The Most

Subscribe to YourTango's newsletter to keep up with us for FREE

- Our best articles delivered straight to your inbox
- The latest in entertainment and news
- Daily horoscopes and love advice

Aubrei Krummert is a Certified Professional Organizer in Southeast Ohio, who helps well-intended, yet chronically disorganized individuals live more peaceful and productive lives. She specializes in Home and Small Business Productivity and works with clients across the United States, doing on-site and virtual sessions. Connect with her via her Facebook page or her website.