40% of Consumers Admit to Impulse Buying

by Justin Weinger on October 29, 2006

In a recent poll conducted on Saving Without A Budget, nearly 4 out of every 10 people admitted to being impulse buyers – which may explain America’s growing credit card debt problem.

Think about it: how many times have you been in a store and seen something that you thought you just had to have – and now it’s just collecting dust?  Everyone has been guilty of doing this at some point in their life, but it’s something that you should ultimately try to avoid.

According to a recent study, the average American household carries over $8,000 in credit card debt.  That just absolutely blows my mind!  And what percentage of that debt is made up of bad impulse buys?  I think it’s safe to say that a good portion of that debt can be attributed to buying products that probably weren’t necessary.

So, what are some things you can do to reduce impulse buying and avoid piling on the debt?  Here are a couple of ways to get started:

  1. Research.  Take the time to check into the product you’re thinking about buying.  Do some comparisons against similar models and once you’ve decided on the product you want to buy, do a lot of price shopping.
  2. Practice delayed gratification.  Unless your life absolutely depends on it, you probably don’t need to purchase anything based on a split second decision.  Especially for big ticket items, wait until you can actually afford it either by paying with cash, knowing you can pay the credit card bill off right away, or you can easily afford the monthly payments.
  3. Sleep on it.  This could probably fall under delayed gratification, but “sleeping on it” has helped me avoid a lot of bad purchases.  When you see something at the store or online many times you stop thinking rationally and try and find ways to convince yourself that you HAVE TO buy that item right now.  When you begin to feel this way, take a deep breath and walk away.  If you still feel the same way the following morning, only then should you start to seriously consider buying the item.
  4. Don’t buy when you’re emotional.  Buying when you’re emotional can definitely lead to bad purchases.  It can be when you’re unhappy (you just broke up with your significant other) or when you’re ecstatic (you just got a raise).  Either way, buying when you’re running on emotion isn’t a good idea.
  5. Use your will power.  Have the ability to say “yes, it would be great to buy this, but I don’t really need it.”  If you can tell yourself that, you’re probably far more likely to avoid impulse purchases.

Obviously, this isn’t an all encompassing list, but if you can practice even a couple of these things you’ll be well on your way to reducing the amount of money you waste on impulse purchases.



moneymonk November 6, 2006 at 4:53 pm

Good read. especially #2, I think if most of us delay gratification, we will be in a better position to save and have a positive cash flow.

brian.carr November 9, 2006 at 10:27 am

Thanks for the reply. While it would certainly be nice to buy everything you want when you want it, for most people it’s just not possible.

Debt Settlement Advice April 26, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Buying on impulse is one of the single biggest reasons people end up stuck with a lot of credit card debt. People just buy things based on emotion and charge it on their plastic.

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