Impulse Buying: How to Beat It - Refresh Financial

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Impulse Buying: How to Beat It

impulse buying

Before you head out with your wallets this weekend, I want you to think about what impulse buying is. I want you to recognize the factors that lead to impulse buying. I want you to learn how to protect your money from your own impulse.

Over on, they published a clear and helpful guide for avoiding impulse buying, which really can’t be topped. You can even download a PDF here, complete with a worksheet for impulse buying prevention.

According to, impulse buying comes down to “TEMPO”. TEMPO stands for Time of day, Environment, Mood, Place and Occasion. The right circumstances when it comes to each of these factors can lead to you easily parting with your money. Here’s why you need to consider each of them:

T: Time of day

Stress and exhaustion can lead to poor decision-making skills and both of these can peak at certain points in the day. Don’t shop during these peak stress and tiredness points. says to head out to the shops when you have high energy, and are positive and ready to tackle your day. You’re going to make infinitely better decisions under these circumstances. Figure out what times of day these are for you, and limit your shopping to these times.

E: Environment

Yes, there are environments that lead to spending! Perhaps you’re bad at saying no in high-pressure sales environment. Maybe you tend to go along with the crowd when you’re out shopping with friends. You could have trouble saying no to your kids at the fair, or perhaps you’re easily sold on big ticket items at the electronics store. There are certain environments which make it easier for you to reason away your money. All you need to do is identify those places, and if you absolutely have to visit them, take cash only and limit how much.

M: Mood also points out that certain moods mean you spend with less thought. If you’re overly tired, your judgment could be clouded, while if you’re overly happy, everything could seem like a great idea. Consider what moods enable your impulse spending and avoid shopping while in them.

P: Place

We know you have one. You have a favourite place to browse and shop. Some of us could wander Sephora for hours, convincing ourselves that we need everything and anything. Others get in over their heads at home improvement stores like Canadian Tire. There are many of us who can hardly resist a clearance sale at Best Buy, as well. Whatever your weakness is, it’s best to recognize it.

O: Occasion

I think most of us overspend at Christmas. Valentine’s Day and Easter might even bring on some serious impulse spending. Maybe birthdays or milestones or weddings help you to part with your money. Pick out specific occasions that trigger impulse buying for you and get extra militant about protecting your money during those times.


As points out, it’s important to protect your money from yourself. Find ways to tie up your cash so you can’t spend it, or at least make it harder to spend. Don’t bring your credit cards with you when you’re in high-risk impulse buying situations. Use cash, and limit how much you have on you.

The key here is not to feel guilt for having weaknesses. The key is to recognize that we all have them, and identifying which are yours. Recognize the traps you fall into and take preemptive measures to avoid them.

Make sure you check out’s helpful tips and worksheet here, for even more help in learning how to avoid impulse buying.

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