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Impulse Buying in College

How to Prevent Impulse Buying in College

Money, so you have a lot of it in your pocket? It might be pocket-money that you are given out by your parents, or it might be your own money that you have saved out of a part-time job.  And as a result, you will tend to say, “I have earned it, so why not spend it?” Yes, you are allowed to spend it, but responsibly. Impulse buying in college will cause you guilt, and actually since you have no use for the item, you will always feel like taking it back to the store.

According to, impulse buying statistics, 5 in 6 Americans admit to impulse buys. This means that you are not a bad person but a victim just like others!


Causes of Impulse Buying

  1. You simply love shopping: the idea of owning something new simply gives you a thrill. You know all the stalls inside out and what they deal in. Every time you are bored you just want to go out and do some shopping. You recognize yourself in this?

2. Desire to save: You have a knack for shopping just because you have seen a discount announcement. This is dangerous as initially you had not planned to buy whatever is on discount. But you are buying it all the same to save money.

3. You are afraid you won’t get the same item again: There are just those items that you come across and they stand so much out from everything else. It’s human nature to always stand out from the crowd, and so you want this item that no one else has.

4. Societal pressure: Especially when buying with friends, this can really mess up your finances. They are buying this and that, so why not you? Your friends back in campus have the latest gadgets, the latest hair styles and high-end fashion clothes. You suddenly want to fit in. These items might not even be your taste, but you want them because everyone else has them. You don’t need to show off. Life is not a competition

5. Stress: College life can be stressful. From pressure to perform from parents, relationship problems, failing grades, uncooperative lecturers, indecision on chosen career paths and many other life problems may take a toll on you.


We all look for an outlet of all this tension building up in ourselves. Some of you shop because you are bored, or to escape reality. You don’t need these things but because you simply have nothing else to do, you would rather shop rather than lie about in bed and think about your problems

I know it’s not easy to stop impulse buying in college, but with the will to stop and have better management of your finances, it is very possible.


How to avoid impulse buying in college

  • Don’t carry a lot of cash with you. Carry enough for your needs. This way even when the need to buy something additional strikes, you will have no choice but to ignore the impulse.


  • Don’t use your credit card. Use cash instead. Using a credit card gives you the freedom of buying and paying later hence you feel that you are covered, but when you are using cash to pay, you are very conscious of the money you are using.


  • Learn to simply say no, not to anyone else, but to yourself. No matter how much you want it, just tell yourself no. This helps very much with self-discipline and self-control. Avoid the temptation, and trust me, when you get home you will feel very happy with yourself.


  • Have something because you need it not because you want it. What is the point in buying the latest gadget? You already have a phone, and none of your communication is lagging behind. So you simply don’t need that phone, you just want it because maybe everyone is having it, or because you can afford it.


  • Make a list. It may seem an outdated method of doing things, but if it’s going to be the only savior, so be it! Shop with a list of the items you need and the stores you need this things from. This will help you have a rough idea of the amount you need to carry, and you won’t pick unnecessary items from the shelves or even pop into stores you hadn’t planned to visit.


  • Food. I know this is most people’s weakness. The sight of grilling chicken as you walk past a fast foods outlet is likely to trigger the impulse buyer in you. You suddenly want to eat. To avoid impulse eating, go out with a full stomach. By this, you won’t feel the need to eat just by the sight of food.


  • Don’t buy promotional items, leave discounts alone. They have always been there and they will always be there. For heaven’s sake if you don’t need it, leave it alone no matter how low its prices are running.


  • If you have tried self-discipline to no avail, what about shopping with an accountable buddy? You can tag them along to your shopping spree and let them hold you accountable as to what you are buying. You can chatter as you carry out your shopping, a good distraction from the shiny stuff screaming for your attention from the windows. Even if it means buying something for coming along, at least it will save the trouble of buying anything and everything you come across.


  • De-clutter before you shop; it’s a good idea to re-evaluate what you have before you go out shopping. This will make you have a clear mind as you enter the store.


  • How about shopping alone? If you are the kind that is influenced by others when shopping as a group, its best that you go out shopping alone. This way you will avoid the competition and the thrill of having shopped more than your friends.


  • Keep a spending tracker. This can be a simple spreadsheet package that you make an entry of every spending you do, whether trivial or not. If your spending habits are improving, then you can go out and treat yourself.


The effects of impulse buying are mainly financial. With these tips in place, your Impulse buying in college should decline. You should at least start to save some bucks.

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