Written by Shekinah Ade-Gold on behalf of Budget Leaf
Ian Zimmerman, writer of the article ‘What Motivates Impulse Buying?’ for Psychology Today, outlined that there are a number of factors that lead to impulse buying. While he states that this
is something everyone does, he urges caution in terms of how often we give in to these desires. Being careless with our purchases can lead to debt and an unhappy life.
Impulse Buyers Are More Socially Conscious
An impulse buyer tends to be very concerned with what people will think of him/her. Being able to buy the latest gadget or accessory provides an ego boost, as this kind of buyer cares more about how they are seen in their social circles and by the public in general. Therefore, they tend not to buy out of necessity, but because they think they will have a better image as a result.
Anxiety and Emotional Regulation
Impulse buyers find it hard to take control of their anxiety, and are generally unhappy. As such, they make purchases in the hope that the feeling of getting a new item or paying for an experience will make them feel better. What usually tends to happen after is ‘buyer’s remorse’, which causes them to regret spending their money in the first place; and in order to solve this guilty feeling, they spend more money again. If they cannot find peace in saying ‘no’ to unplanned purchases, impulse buyers become addicted to the ‘high’ of spending money.
The Pleasure of Shopping
It is no secret that some buyers love to shop. Marketing research will point out that there are
ways to set up the layout of a store (design, colours, location, etc) so that shoppers will give in to
that impulsive urge. This is especially the case for online shopping, as even webpages are
designed to make you want to fill your cart and checkout. Shopping is a science, and the best
stores and outlets reap the highest rewards in the game of making money from you, the customer.
Zimmerman suggests that if you feel the need to buy something, it is good to ask yourself if the purchase was previously planned. If not, then you’re most likely buying on impulse and it would be better to walk away from the item. There is also a well-known rule of spending that says that if you’re not sure about making a purchase, then it is best to wait for 7 days before doing so. In that time period, the urge to buy impulsively would have faded, and this would clearly show you if the purchase is a need or a want.
Budgeting can only make sense if you stay disciplined and take note of when you spend, and how much. Overspending destroys the work of planning and saving, and buying what you don’t need reduces your ability to pay for what you do need. If you do buy on impulse, it is best to do so in moderation.