The Riskiest Impulse Buys and How to Avoid Them

Posted on 09/25/2012

It’s one of the deadliest shopping sins: the impulse buy. For a little while at least your new purchase may make you feel great, but then reality sinks in. You realize you spent more than you needed to or should have and your bank account suffers because of it. Some impulse purchases are small, others are large, but neither will help you accomplish your financial goals.

Anything Near the Checkout Nothing in the checkout lane is very expensive, but none of it is really necessary either. It’s all there to entice you while you wait your turn. Retailers use the checkout lane as a last ditch effort to get just a few more of your hard-earned dollars. Fight the urge.

Products From the SkyMall Catalog
Blame it on the altitude, or the fact that someone already did the crossword puzzle leaving you with nothing to do during your flight but flip through the SkyMall catalog. Do you really need an orthopedic couch for your dog or an instant screen door? The answer is no. And the key to avoiding this risky impulse purchase is to give yourself a mandatory waiting period. Stuff the catalog into your carry on and see if you are still committed to your purchase in 24 hours.

Perhaps the riskiest impulse buy of all is real estate. That’s because the cost is large and the commitment is long-term. The important thing to remember here is to really do your research. Take your time and don’t let a talented salesman lock you into a bad decision you’ll be regretting for years.

Sale Items
Wait a minute—shopping sales is a good thing, right? Yes, but only when you really need the item. If you don’t need it then no matter how good of a deal you’re getting your still spending money unnecessarily. You know yourself best. If you tend to get caught up in the rush of a good deal, it may be a good idea just stay home on Black Friday. At the very least keep your receipts and don’t open any packaging until you’re positive you made the right decision.

Late Night Infomercial Gadgets
Sleep deprivation can easily cause impulse buying and that’s probably why so many infomercials are on in the middle of the night. Shop when you are refreshed and alert. That way you’re more likely to make an educated buy.

The Easy Add-On
Not unlike the checkout line at Target, online retailers are often trying to get you to add just one more thing into your shopping cart. Beware of the easy add-on because while it may push you over the threshold to score free shipping, it may also cause you to spend money on something you really don’t need.

By Alison Storm

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