Men are more likely than women to report they had indulged in BWI (Buying While Intoxicated).
Whether picking up a tabloid magazine or candy bar at the supermarket checkout counter or ordering online after watching a TV shopping network, impulse spending can be costly not only to one’s bank account, but to their financial goals.
A new CreditCards.com consumer spending trends survey finds that three-fourths of Americans have made impulse purchases—some of them costly. Of those surveyed who reported making impulse purchases, 16 percent said they spent at least $500 on the item, and 10 percent spend at least $1,000.
What drives impulse spending? State of mind has much to do with it, the survey found. Respondents reported they made impulse purchases when they were:
- Excited (49 percent)
- Bored (30 percent)
- Sad (22 percent)
- Angry (9 percent)
- Intoxicated (9 percent)
The survey, too, found something of a gender divide. While men and women equally reported making impulse purchases, they cited different spending triggers. Men, for example, were more likely to say they indulged in BWI (Buying While Intoxicated), while women were twice as likely to report that sadness triggered their impulse purchase. Men were also likely to spend more than $1,000 on their impulse purchase than women.
There is also a generation gap when it comes to impulse spending. Four of ten senior citizens at least 65 years-old said they’d never made an impulse purchase. Only about one in ten Millennials could say the same.
When it comes to impulse spending, nearly half of all of those who made impulse purchases regretted them at one time or another, the survey found. Women (52 percent) were somewhat more likely to experience buyer's remorse than men (46 percent).
What are the most effective ways to tamp down the urge to impulse buy? In a guest post on Trent Hamm’s personal finance blog, “The Simple Dollar,” Leo Babuata, who writes about frugality on how own blog “Zen Habits,” offers these practical suggestions:
- Create a 30-Day List: When you have the urge to buy something (excluding necessities), put it on a 30-day list with that day’s date. After a month, you can buy the item if you still want it, but many times, the urge will have passed.
- Don’t go to the mall: Only go shopping with a list of specific necessities. Don’t browse. Get in; get out!
- Don’t go to online retail sites, which are even more accessible than brock and mortar stores.
- Monitor your impulses: This will help you to become a more conscious consumer and help get the urges under control.
- Take a deep breath: Keep calm and don’t give in to those impulses.
- Ask questions: Measure your purchases against your financial and savings goals and ask yourself: Is this purchase going to improve your life? Will it make you feel better? Will it help you attain one of your life’s goals? Will it simplify your life?
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.