Impulse Purchases

by Stephanie Schwartz, M.S.

In the past month I have done a lot more shopping (particularly online) than I typically do. It’s not a coincidence that my shopping habits have increased right around holiday time, when stores typically run sales. When something is on sale, I tend to be more impulsive about making the decision to buy it. I’m even quicker to make a purchase when I’m browsing online and can purchase something with a few clicks. I have noticed that when I don’t purchase an item right away, I often decide not to buy it if I come back to it later. It’s difficult for me to resist the urge to get a good deal and I’ve noticed I tell myself, “I need buy this now because I like it and it’s a good price.” However, when I think about the situation more rationally I know that just because I like something or it’s discounted doesn’t mean I need to buy it. There are plenty of things I like, but don’t buy, and similarly there are many items on sale that I don’t purchase. I plan to remind myself of this when I browse online. Additionally, given my observations about my purchasing tendencies, when I am considering buying something I also plan to wait for a brief period of time before doing so. This extra time will allow me to tell myself the rational beliefs (e.g., I may want this item but just because I like it or it’s a good price does not mean I must buy it right now) and also more thoroughly, rather than impulsively, consider whether to make the purchase.

Stephanie Schwartz2

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