Tips to help prevent impulse buying.

Times are tight and when consumers tighten their purse strings, bad things happen to the economy. We’re told we need to spend to do our bit to avoid a recession/depression.

For many of us, we buy stuff on impulse – things we don’t really need or purchases we haven’t really thought through. Hyperconsumption forms the core of our environmental woes; issues that will make this financial crisis seem insignificant.

Hardware stores tend to be my toy shop equivalent. Each time I go I see lots of groovy gadgets that are so useful.. or are they? The Internet has also given us so many more opportunities to impulse buy. I’m constantly having to stop, take a deep breath and think before I whip out the plastic. Just because I’m involved with marketing, doesn’t mean I don’t succumb to the  tricks that I’m well aware of.

Here’s some tips to help you avoid impulse buying so you can do your bit for the economy by spending cash on stuff you actually need and will last for a while.

– When you see something that really grabs your eye, think about want vs. need. Is it a case of really needing it, or just wanting it? By buying that item on impulse will you be preventing yourself from buying something that you’ve really been wanting or needing for a long time and will purchasing this item delay you from getting to your real acquisition goals?

– Don’t trust brand names as much any more. Sometimes we’ll justify a bargain by saying “oh, but it’s a great brand”. So many goods now are made in countries where quality control isn’t so great. What’s more, the same factories create the same goods for many leading brands – the only thing that may differ is the color and label. Many brands that previously represented quality now churn out crap and they are still riding on their old reputations.. for now.

– when you go out shopping, take a list with you and stick to what’s on the list.

– Set yourself a weekly budget and don’t exceed it.

– Plan out your major purchases. A stack of research will save you cash, even if you miss an item on sale. Better to be safe than sorry.

– Never, ever buy the latest or greatest in electronic or computer equipment. The reason being is that you’ll pay more and it’s likely to be buggy. Better to wait a few months – the price will usually drop dramatically and you’ll wind up with a product that’s more likely to work as it should.

– Compare prices. An 80% off sale may sound really attractive, but not if the store was grossly overpriced for starters. Check other merchants and you might find the sale is a little misleading which will take the shine off your bargain hunters buzz.

– Check the warranty; not just the length but what the warranty covers. The sooner stuff wears out, the sooner it becomes waste and the sooner it needs to be replaced. Often a warranty will be pegged to product serviceable life – it’s a formed of planned obsolescence.

– Beware of “limited time” sales, particularly those advertised online. These are designed to create a sense of urgency over a product you may not have otherwise considered buying. So many times these “limited offers” actually drag on for months.

– Bear in mind that marketers are pseudo-psychologists. They spend their careers trying to figure out how to get people to buy on impulse and billions are invested into strategies to get you to part with money. Watch out for marketing that focuses on pain points such as “Everyone’s buying this – don’t be left out!” As much as we think we are resistant to marketing messages, our subconscious fears and need for acceptance tend to override rational thought.

– Resist fashion and trends; particularly in clothing; even “green” fashion and eco-chic products. This years fashion is next year’s moth food. Find what you feel you look good in and feel comfortable wearing – and stick with it. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and often when my peers look back at their old photos they’ll often say things like “Geez, I can’t believe I wore those sort of clothes – they are gross!”. Fashion is so transient.

– Check out the ingredients and components of the item you’re about to buy. What effect on the environment will your impulse buy have? Can the item be recycled? This tip has saved me a lot of cash – and waste :).

Out of all the things we can do to go green, one that is in the control of just about everyone is impulse buying. While our economic system is unfortunately based on consumption and spending, we can take more responsibility on when and how we spend our money.

When you think about it, the best purchases we make in our lives are usually not those that are made on impulse, but the ones we have given a lot of thought to. By resisting the little impulse purchases, we can indulge in some of our bigger green goals such as perhaps installing solar power or a more efficient washing machine; and much sooner!

Do you have some tips you’ve found useful in resisting impulse buying? Please add them below!