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Resisting the Urge of Impulse Buying: Should You do So?

impulse buying

“When something is tangible and is right in front of you, it sparks the impulse to buy more than a picture on your phone.”
Karen Lee
Author and certified financial planner

If you search Google for the phrase “impulse buying” it will bring you a definition like this: “Impulse shopping is the buying of goods without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse.” And as CBS News puts in: “Nowhere may America’s consumer culture be more evident than in the peculiar act of impulse buying.”

So, does it mean the Americans are inclined towards impulse shopping? According to a recent year poll, 84% of surveyed consumers claimed they shop impulsively.

What makes people do impulse shopping?

First off, shopping impulsively isn’t necessarily too awful. But it can be if it’s dominating your budget. If your life is only focused on satisfying the “wants” that you have at specific moments, then you have problems.

Yet it’s true that basically anything is made in a way as to force us into making a buying decision. How many times have you bumped into a nicely packaged product that is too tempting to avoid? A dollar here, a dollar there and you already have a huge credit card debt. Spending money is really easy.

Let’s take online shopping; the ease of making online payments is astounding. When using a credit card, we often pay for things we cannot even afford. And because “cash feels the most painful,” it is easier to save money by paying cash rather than with a credit card. However, we like that feeling when we make a one-click payment. It’s so easy, right? A whole lot of services offer that one-click payment option. It’s when you have previously provided all the needed payment information and you just need to click once to make a purchase.

Amazon nails it

This is one giant online retailer that makes buying things online much easier. Amazon Pay, for example, makes it simple for millions of customers to check-in and check out using information already stored in their Amazon account. And since you know that this shopping experience is easy and secure, you might end up purchasing quite impulsively.

Amazon Dash button is another temptation! Basically, you just need to place that small tray-like electronic device around the house and push it every time you need consumer goods such as paper towels or washing powder. Easy, right? But this way you might end up spending money without even noticing it.

Apple Pay

This is Apple’s mobile wallet. A typical Apple Store might use it since it allows the customer to check out and pay by simply holding their phone over a payments reader that can accept Apple Pay. One can even make purchases within apps by simply making a tap on the phone. On the one hand, Apple Pay helps people avoid the long lines in front of the cashier’s desk. On the other hand, it as well might trigger impulsive buying decisions. Especially if we consider that by the end of the year, 50% of US retailers will be accepting Apple Pay. Apparently, the process of spending money is automated quite a lot.

But what about automating your savings?

We cannot possibly change the way our economy works. But we can probably avoid a huge credit card debt and control our habits of impulse buying. How? You either need to wake up rich or just try to make informed decisions regarding the way you earn and spend money.


It sometimes feels really discouraging how in less than a minute we can make a payment but never a saving. It is often so easy to separate from your money with a tap of a finger while at the same time it is nearly as hard if not impossible to save some. We might buy products or services without even calculating whether we can afford them or not. Sometimes we just fail to see the big picture of our finances. Our saving habits are often so vague we cannot control them or have no idea of them.


But maybe things would be different if only banks could provide us with fully automated services. It would be way painless to stash away some funds through them. But banks do not offer so much freedom and flexibility; they are often too time-consuming and nerve-racking to deal with. That’s why the millennials mostly freak out of them. Instead, we need a tool that will help control our finances in a seamless manner. And because banks are like giant tortoises when it comes to automation, FinTech startups seem to be taking the dance floor.

Let’s take Mint which brings together all your financial information starting from your bills and ending with your credit score. It helps you see your financial life on a single page. This way, you can understand where you are standing and how you can improve your spending habits.

Another outstanding virtual tool is Robinhood. It has made it easy to purchase stock shares and to sell them. The experience is now both painless and more understandable than ever. And the users need not pay brokerage fees. Everything is made crystal clear.

In other words, FinTech startups have changed the way people deal with money.Who knows? Maybe a FinTech revolution is near. Imagine how comfy it would be to control your daily savings through a mobile app. And while we say that paying for something with one click is easy as 2+2, saving money with one click can be made equally easy.


Also published on Medium.

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