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How To Avoid Buying On Impulse

I’ve been thinking a lot about impulse buys recently and ways to avoid them, because almost always, you wish you had taken longer to think about it. Sometimes, we buy things because we really do need immediately, even if we know that with a little research, we could find them cheaper somewhere else, but when time is of the essence, there’s no time to be picky.

Still, there are times when we can avoid these types of situations, but do not. Whether it’s with nice new shoes that we desperately want and know that if we wait two days, they won’t be shipped until after the weekend, or a new car that you’re absolutely in love with, patience pays off most of the time.

I’ve been developing some ways to avoid buying on impulse and take the time to evaluate whether it’s really a good decision or not. The example I’ll be using is choosing a new cell phone, which I had to do a short time ago.

1. Browsing Is The Best Thing In The World

Casually browsing is the best way to get starting. When we get excited about something, we tend to focus exclusively on that thing until we convince ourselves that we need it. We look to confirm our decision and focus only on the positive without thinking about what some problems may be. By browsing several different websites and looking for different opinions, we may find out additional information.

While searching for cell phones, I really wanted a touch-screen phone, and decided that I really wanted the LG Shine. I looked at some reviews which had good things to say, and decided that this was definitely the phone for me. Then, I took a step back and thought about whether I was really willing to commit 2 years to this phone. I had already waited a few months after being eligible for an upgrade because there were no phones I really liked. Although my phone was in bad shape, I thought being patient was the right thing to do.

2. Search For Dissenting Opinions

If we surround ourselves with confirming information, we are never able to see things from the other side. While I thought I found what I was looking for, I did some further research just to confirm my beliefs. I looked specifically for complaints about the phones, thinking that if there were none, then it must be a good choice. It turns out that I found a few legitimate complains about the phone, such as the screen being prone to fingerprints and the navigator button being too sensitive. But two small complaints? Just some wackos, I thought, there are always people who are going to complain.

3. Ask around

Like window shopping, we can see but not touch, and until we are able to have it for ourselves, it’s hard to predict how much we’ll enjoy it. There’s nothing quite like test-driving something, getting to know the quirks for ourselves and deciding whether or not we really liked it. I got lucky because a friend actually just upgraded her phone and got the LG Shine, so I wanted to test is out.

She said it was fantastic and loved it, but when I got there, the phone was not everything I had build it up to be. The complaints I found online were legitimate, and the first thing I noticed is how dirty her screen was. Also, there was a mobile tv button on the front of the touchscreen that could not be removed or disabled, and I was concerned that I would accidentally rack up charges for something I neither wanted nor used. Finally, the navigator button was indeed too sensitive and I had a hard time slowing it down. With a little practice, I’m sure I could have gotten used to it, but I decided that what I thought was my dream phone, in reality had some faults.

It was back to the drawing board, and the Samsung Impression and LG Xenon the features I was looking for. Again, I did my research, took my time, and found that while the Impression may have been the better phone, it required a $30/month data plan, something I was not interested in. The Xenon seemed to have everything I wanted, and the price was reduced in the time I was considering the Vu.

4. Sleep On It

There’s nothing worse than making a decision than worrying the next day that maybe you should have waited. We’ve all done it, like my experiment with BidCactus that I rushed into. As for the phone, I took another day or two to make sure I was making the decision for the right reason, and I decided that I definitely was going to go with the Xenon. I ordered it, and when I received it, looked through all the cool features, set my settings the way I wanted, and I haven’t had any problems.

Patience is key in making educated decisions. Rushing to judgment often gets our emotions involved, leading to making quick decisions. Only time will tell whether these decisions were correct, but a little research and an extra day often leads to a different conclusion.



  1. Depending on what you’re interested in purchasing, you might also be able to get a free sample of it. I know at Sephora, they will provide you a sample of any perfume you like. This way, you’re getting what you want right now but without a $40 investment that you might get sick of in two days. Some bath/soap stores will provide you with free samples of their products too. Little bits of soap or shampoo. This is a great way to make sure that it works for you before buying.

    • I had no idea. If more companies did this, people would spend less on frivolous purchases and instead would be happier with the things they do buy.

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