$200,000 wasted by the average consumer—and you never see it happen.
By Will deHoo
Ever seen this? A kid in a grocery store randomly grabs an item from a low shelf for a parent to buy. The parent, without thinking, adds it to the cart.
Or ever done this? Realized you've bought something in the past that you never use, or really didn't need.
Ever felt this? Had regret over something you've bought.
Or felt this? Stressed when a bill arrives.
From the day you were born, you have been surrounded by a marketing environment that is based on persuading you to spend money without planning—the definition of impulse buying.
If you think about it, isn't the goal of virtually all marketing to get you to make an impulse buy? Have you ever seen an ad that said, "Don't buy this now! Wait awhile and think about it—and make sure you try to find something cheaper and better at our competitors!"?
In the air. Impulse buying messages—like the air we breathe—are omnipresent and accepted by us without thinking.
If you are an "average" consumer:
At least 40% of all the money you spend in your entire lifetime will be on "Impulse buys".
You'll make about 40,000 impulse-buying decisions in your life.
You—alone—will probably waste $200,000 or more because of impulse buys.
You'll buy something you don't need, pay more than you need or buy something that can actually hurt you.
Without realizing it, you'll teach your kids bad impulse buying habits…probably every time you go to a store.
Is all impulse buying alike? No. Impulse buying generally falls in four categories. Not all of these decisions will be bad. But a lot of them will be.
Sensible impulse buys. I'm putting this first, because sensible impulse buys are a gnat in the universe of impulse buying. You're in a store to buy milk, but when you see toilet paper, you remember you're out. That's a good impulse buy.
Low-guilt impulse buys. Think buying an apple as you're walking by a street market.
Boost-to-the-ego impulse buys. Think designer labels or a fancy car.
Instant gratification impulse buys. Downloading a book; buying a video online. "Drive it home today!"
Why do we fall for this? Because impulse buys are thoughtless and effortless decisions. They don't require brain power.
But learning to break the impulse-buying habit actually takes work! Marketers know it takes work, too. They know that if you're faced with enough impulse decisions, you'll eventually become fatigued. Bingo! You make a lot more impulse buys.
How do we stop bad impulse buys? You can retrain your brain. And in retraining your brain, you will influence the shopping habits of all people who regularly shop with you.
Start with a reality check.
Take an "impulse-buying inventory" of your home. Did you find anything you bought but haven't used or don't really need?
Think about your last visit to a store. Any store. Ask yourself this question about each item you bought: "Did I go into the store planning to buy that item?"
Keep your mind on a bigger goal than the impulse buy. Life isn't fun if you're always telling yourself, "Don't buy that!" But if you look at impulse buying moments as chances to help you reach a bigger goal in your life, you're taking positive action. For example, thinking: "Hey. If I don't spend that twenty, my savings account can grow." Or "If I skip that purchase, the vacation gets closer."
Adopt core habits: Here are four examples from our Impulse Buying Tip Sheet. (More on that in a minute.)
Empower your kids. Always insist that your kids—the younger, the better—help develop shopping lists. And repeat this mantra to all members of your team: if it isn't on the list, question it! The best money habit you can teach your kids is the habit of thoughtful spending.
Develop shopping lists for more than groceries: Clothes. Housing items. Vacation goals. Major purchases like cars, homes and education.
Expect marketing tricks. Have you ever bought a "jumbo" size of an item because you assumed it was cheaper in volume? Did you know that many times it isn't cheaper?
Budget money for impulse buys. Skipping all impulse buys is boring and self-defeating. Set a small "play" budget for you and your kids.
What to do now. Explore this website.
The website includes:
Every impulse buy has long-term consequences. Modifying even half of those buys can change your life financially.
You need to do this, right?