How To Stop Impulse Buying: The Science Behind It

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Most people know what it feels like to give in to an impulse buy. You see something you want – maybe a new outfit or a gadget you don’t wish to ed – and before you know it, you’ve handed over your credit card and taken it home.

For many, impulse buying is a regular occurrence and can often lead to negative consequences like buyer’s remorse. But why do we give in to impulses in the first place? And more importantly, how can we stop ourselves from doing it?

In this article, we’ll look at the science behind impulse buying and explore some strategies you can use to stop yourself from giving in to temptation.

What Drives Impulse Buying?

At its core, impulse buying is driven by our desire for pleasure – the anticipation of enjoying a good or experience. Our brains release dopamine in response to this anticipation, which stimulates feelings of excitement and pleasure.

This can make us more susceptible to giving in to impulses, as our brains are essentially “tricking” us into believing that the purchase will give us long-term happiness.

There are several strategies that you can use to stop impulse buying. These include:

1. Identifying and Understanding Your Triggers

One of the first things you can do to stop impulse buying is to identify and understand your triggers. These are the specific situations, emotions, or stimuli that make you more likely to give in to impulses. Common triggers might include feeling stressed or overwhelmed, being exposed to marketing messages, or even seeing a product on display at a store.

2. Creating a Budget and Shopping List

Another effective strategy for stopping impulse buying is to create a budget and stick to a shopping list when you go to the store. This will help you avoid being swayed by marketing messages or “special deals” that may lead to impulse purchases.

It can also be helpful to keep track of your spending in a budgeting app or spreadsheet so that you have a better sense of how much money you are actually spending.

3. Seeking Out Pleasurable Activities Instead

One final strategy to consider is simply replacing impulse purchases with other activities and experiences that give you pleasure. This might mean taking up a new hobby, walking in the park, or spending time with friends and family. By focusing on these types of activities, your desire to buy things on impulse decreases over time.

4. Giving Yourself Permission To Spend on the Fun Stuff

Another thing you can do to stop impulse buying is to allow yourself a certain amount of money each month to spend on something that makes you happy. This can help take the pressure off of trying to stick to a budget and be more “freeing” in the long run.

So go ahead and add a small amount of money for fun splurges into your budget – you’ll be less inclined to impulse spend if you know that you’ve already allowed for some fun purchases.

5. Creating Some Rules Around Extraneous Spending

One way to further stop impulse buying is to create rules on extraneous spending. For example, this can mean you designate a specific amount of money each month for things like clothes, accessories, and entertainment.

Once that money is spent, you can no longer purchase additional items outside your regular budget. This will help you resist the temptation to buy things on a whim.

Here are a few more tips to help you stop impulse buying:

  1. Make a list of things you need before going to the store, and stick to it.
  2. Only bring a certain amount of money with you to the store, and don’t carry any extra cash.
  3. Avoid going to the store when you’re stressed or hungry.
  4. Wait 48 hours before purchasing anything that’s caught your eye to give yourself time to think it over.
  5. Put your credit card in the freezer so you can’t use it for a couple of days if you’re feeling tempted to buy something unnecessary.
  6. Unsubscribe from promotional emails from your favorite stores, so you’re not as tempted to make purchases you don’t need.
  7. If your impulse to buy something, immediately put it away and wait to allow yourself to use it until you’ve addressed the issue head-on. This will help you realize that the purchase was less needed and important than you thought.


If you struggle with impulse buying, there are several strategies that you can use to stop yourself from giving in to temptation. These might include identifying and understanding your triggers, creating a budget and shopping list, and seeking out other pleasurable activities instead. With some practice, you can learn to resist the urge to give in to impulse purchases and instead focus on long-term happiness and enjoyment.

Please feel free to contact us for financial guidance if you’re struggling to stop impulse buying and need help controlling your spending. Our expert team can provide practical advice and support to help you achieve your financial goals.