‘Shopping’ Category Archives


What is Impulse Buying

by Ziva Beck in Must Read, Shopping

Impulse buying happens when we buy something that we didn’t intend to buy. Malls, grocery stores, street fairs and other places of shopping can trigger impulse buying. It sneaks up on you unexpectedly like in my story below.

It was Halloween and my husband I were walking at the mall and enjoying all the sights around us. Suddenly, I heard a noise behind me and someone put a small square piece of what appeared a warm gel pad in my hand. “Here try it” – he said. It was a cold day and the heat was wonderful. Curious I looked back and followed him to his cart. They were selling Heat in a Click heating pads in various sizes. I got interested in a shoulder and neck heating pad. I often have stiff shoulders and this pad felt like heaven. After a short negotiation on the price I bought it for $35. Another salesperson offered that I try a TENS massager. You place two pads on your shoulders and they create a sensation of massage using an electric pulse. It is similar to what a chiropractor or a physical therapist will use in their office. I do have a problem with my neck and shoulders so they hit a home run with me. The salesman showed me a website with a price around $300 for the unit and offered to give it to me for a discounted price of $220. I told him I can pay $160 and we made a deal. My husband and I happily continued our walk at the mall.

That evening I came home and decided to look for these products on the internet. I found that I can buy a comparable TENS massager for $100-$120 and the shoulder pad for about $20. I paid $195 for both items and they were available for $120-$140 on the internet. Ouch! Needless to say I wasn’t happy anymore.

This was a classic example for impulse buying. At that moment, I bought something that I didn’t intend to buy acting on my emotions. There is a certain high associated with this kind of purchase that makes us happy. The desire for instant gratification can be very strong. It also puts in jeopardy our budget, our saving goals and ultimately our desired lifestyle.

Thankfully, this shopping experience is not typical for me but as this example shows I am not immune to it. In many cases from my experience there is salesperson involved who is very personable and able to establish a quick rapport with you. He or she appears so nice that it is difficult to say no. An effective way to overcome the desire to buy is to take some time out to think about the purchase. It will give you the opportunity to reassess your need for it and also time to educate yourself about a reasonable price for this item. My husband and I walked away from many timeshare and other sales presentations using this technique.

I am happiest when I get a great deal on a product I need. Usually that involves deciding on what you need in advance, doing a comparison shopping and having a budget. I don’t know if one can completely avoid impulse buying but minimizing it can go a long way toward achieving your financial goals and desired lifestyle.