THE BLOG

Are Impulse Purchases Busting Your Budget?

How many times have you gone into a place like Target with only a few things on your list and left dropping over a hundred dollars on stuff you didn't plan on buying? If you're like me, it happens more often than you'd like to admit.
11/03/2014 04:16pm ET | Updated January 3, 2015
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

How many times have you gone into a place like Target with only a few things on your list and left dropping over a hundred dollars on stuff you didn't plan on buying? If you're like me, it happens more often than you'd like to admit.

I love Target - but that store is particularly skilled when it comes to their marketing efforts and getting me to part with more money that I planned on! It's where we buy our diapers (love me the store brand) and that alone keeps me coming back for more!

On the other hand, impulse purchases can be a big budget buster though. And when it comes to accomplishing financial goals, keeping your budget in check is imperative. Here are three strategies to keep impulse purchases at bay and your budget in check while out shopping in person or online.

Having a grocery list is one of the best ways to avoid impulse purchases on the way out. Subscribe to the mentality that if it's not on the list, it doesn't make it into the cart! If it's something that you actually need (but forgot to add to the list), have a contingency plan. Maybe you give yourself a two item or $10 buffer for this category. Or just simply start a new list for your next trip and add this item to the top.
If it's habit for you to pick up a few items from the end cap (and you're not using a list/sticking to the first tip), practice looking away. We all know that the end caps (the shelves that are positioned with products to be seen as you walk through the aisle) are prime shelf space for retailers and typically house products that they're itching for you to buy. If it's not something you really need, put it back. If it's still on your mind a day or so after you leave the store, consider adding it to your cart on your next trip. Hopefully it's just a "want," not a "need" and the physical distance and time passing will quench your thirst for it!
This is one of my favorite strategies for online shopping. If you're searching for something specific on Amazon, for example, it can be easy to see other things that you might like to purchase. Again, if it's something you don't "need," but rather "want," try placing it in the e-cart overnight and think about it. Odds are the novelty will wear off overnight and the purchase won't look as appetizing in the light of day. If it still does and you've waited 24 hours, then by all means make the buy. If you're still overspending and busting your budget, you might have to lengthen the time period to a week for your online cart!
If you find that you're spending more than you planned online or in the the store and it's keeping you from achieving your financial goals, start by going with a list and not purchasing anything that's not on it. Practice looking away when "wants" catch your eye from the end caps and place said item in your mental or e-cart instead. After some time has passed, hopefully you'll have found that the desire for said product has waned as well. Consider implementing these three tips to change your habits and maintain more money in your pocket. Impulse purchases do in fact bust many budgets - start protecting yours today!

What store always sucks you into spending more than you planned?

29 Ways You Waste Cash