Many people experience sadness, anger or other negative emotions or try to fill a void in their life by self-medicating through shopping. Shopping can become an addiction which results in impulse shopping.

Impulse shoppers regularly shop sales purchasing items they don’t need because they enjoy the thrill of getting a bargain, getting the latest fad item or getting the item before someone else does. Some signs of impulse shopping include:


  • Unplanned shopping that happens based on an emotional or external trigger (window shopping, sadness, anger, sales)
  • Spending money you don’t have (uses credit cards, payday loans, cash advances)
  • Purchasing unnecessary items that you don’t need or didn’t intend to buy
  • Shopping that is excessive
  • You shop despite knowing the consequences
  • You go into debt or experience financial trouble because of your shopping
  • You make shopping a priority in your life above everything else


But don’t worry, there is help. Here are 10 easy ways to stop impulse shopping and develop good spending habits to reduce your chances of going into debt.


Create a budget and track your spending daily or weekly using online banking or a smartphone app.


Create a list of what you want to buy and stick to it. Avoid giving in to flashy retailer advertisements and gimmicks.


Pay for items with cash. Leave credit card and debit cards at home until you develop better spending habits.


Set a waiting period for yourself – 24 hours, 3 days, 1 week or whatever works for you. Determine if you still want to purchase the item. Then determine if the item is a need or a want. Delay wants until you have the cash to pay for the item.

Reduce Temptations

Create a list of things that tempt you and reduce exposure to those temptations – window shopping, shopping trips, shopping channels, TV or internet advertisements, mailers or newspaper advertisements, shopping catalogs, newsletters, or retailer social media posts.

Time Limit

Set a time limit to reduce the amount of time you walk around in a store. Find the item you want to purchase and buy it, don’t waste time browsing – get in and get out!


Determine the consequences of the purchase and how it will impact you – your current bills, your savings account, your financial goals, retirement, family obligations, college savings, paying off debt or vacation.

Total Cost

Calculate how many hours you have to work to pay for the item and determine if it is worth it.


Go shopping alone. Peer pressure to shop can be hard to resist. Sales clerk will pressure you to purchase an item so stick to your shopping list. If tempted, leave the items on the counter and run out of the store until you can regroup. Think about why you are shopping – is it a need or want, is it filling a void. Then develop a positive way to deal with those feelings.


Develop a support network. Inform your social circle that you are working to develop better shopping habits and need support and encouragement to stay on track. You can also join online or face-to-face impulse shopping or shopping addiction support groups in your area or consult a therapist.