9 Ideas to Reduce the Temptation to “Buy Now”


You are on Amazon, looking for a book your best friend recommended. Before you can type the book’s title in the search engine, you see an item on the homepage that Amazon suggests you purchase. Within fifteen seconds, you have purchased the suggested item.

Impulse buying is the sudden purchase of an item for which you did not plan. They are often mindless purchases. Of course, the concept of impulse buying is not new. Believe it or not, impulse purchases actually predate Amazon Prime.

These sudden purchases can wreak havoc on our finances and create significant frustration and regret. If you are married, it can also lead to relational tension. And as a steward of God’s resources, impulse buying can reduce our ability to live and give generously. If you struggle with impulse buying, here are some ideas to reduce the temptation to “buy now.”

1. Acknowledge that impulse buying is a problem.

Admitting that impulse buying is an issue is crucial. This self-awareness allows you to understand the impact of your habits on your finances, relationships, and spiritual life. Reflect on past purchases that you made on a whim and consider how they made you feel afterward. Did they bring lasting joy or satisfaction, or did they lead to regret and financial strain?

2. Pay attention to the triggers.

Acknowledging the problem also involves recognizing the triggers and patterns in your behavior. You might notice that you tend to shop impulsively when you’re feeling emotional or stressed. Is it at night when you are tired? Is it at work when you are bored? Is it when you are sad? Is it right after you finish looking at Facebook? Is it when you go to the grocery store on an empty stomach?

Understanding these triggers can help you anticipate and manage them more effectively. It's also important to accept that impulse buying can be influenced by external factors such as marketing tactics and social pressure, and that it’s not solely a personal failing.

Identify when you are most likely to make impulse purchases.

3. Have a Blueprint for Mission.

A budget is a plan to accomplish God’s purposes in your finances. A budget helps you reach your financial goals. It also allows money to flow toward things you value and reduce spending on things that mean little to you. Because of this, we refer to the budget as your Blueprint for Mission.

4. Create a 24-hour (or 48-hour) rule.

Before making any non-essential purchase, commit to waiting 24 or 48 hours. This cooling-off period helps you distinguish between a genuine need and a fleeting desire. Often, you’ll find that the urge to buy fades with time.

5. Calculate how much time a purchase will cost you.

Think about your income in terms of hours worked rather than dollars earned. For example, if you make $20 per hour and you’re eyeing a $100 gadget, that purchase represents five hours of work. This perspective can help you evaluate if the purchase is worth the amount of time you spent earning the money.

6. Keep track of all purchases for a week and calculate how much unplanned money you spend.

This exercise can be eye-opening. Write down everything you buy and total the amount spent on unplanned purchases. Seeing the numbers in black and white can motivate you to be more mindful about your spending habits.

7. Consider your opportunity cost.

When you spend money on impulse purchases, that money is no longer available for other things. What are you giving up by making these unplanned buys? Maybe it’s a dream vacation, a new car, or a more comfortable retirement. Understanding what you’re sacrificing can help curb impulse spending.

8. Have a plan to combat temptation.

Develop strategies to resist the urge to buy. This could include unsubscribing from marketing emails, avoiding certain stores, or setting spending limits on your credit cards. You could also enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to hold you accountable.

9. Consider the deeper cause of the struggle.

Sometimes, impulse buying is a symptom of a deeper issue. Are you using shopping to cope with stress, boredom, or loneliness? Are you trying to fill a void with these purchases that only God can fill? Money management reflects heart management.

By implementing these strategies, you can take control of your spending habits, reduce financial stress, and become a better steward of God’s resources.