Avoiding Impulsive Purchases When Holiday Shopping

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • The number of shopping days until Christmas is quickly dwindling. If you don't yet have your shopping done, or haven't even started, you might be near panic or heading close toward it. And panic mode could very well mean you have a tendency, as I do, to impulse shop. There are times when impulse shopping is good. While strolling through the mall, looking in the different shops, you find the perfect gift for your sister. You see it and know that she will love it. You buy it without thinking. This can be good. You had a open mind, waiting for the right gift to come along.

    But impulse shopping can cause you to over-extend your budget or choose gifts that looked great in the store but don't look so good once you get home and wonder, "What would make me buy this!" Maybe you bought a gorgeous pink sweater only to get home and remember your sister despises the color pink and never wears anything that is pink. Now, not only do you need to shop again for a gift for your sister, you have to take the time to return the pink sweater. If only you hadn't jumped ahead and bought the sweater. If only you had taken a few minutes to think about the purchase, you could have saved yourself time, money and trouble.

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    The following are tips to help you curb your impulsive shopping:

    Plan ahead. Write a list of who you want to buy gifts for and a few ideas listed for each person. Include items like, "doesn't like pink" to help remind you of specifics when overwhelmed by the holiday frenzy.

    Set up a budget.
    How much money can you afford to spend this holiday season? Decide before you go shopping how much you want to spend and, more specifically, how much you want to spend on each person on your list.

    Set aside some money for impulse shopping. When creating your budget, you might want to include some extra money for impulse shopping. This gives you the flexibility of buying that perfect gift, even if it is more expensive than you had anticipated.

    Check out the weekly ads.
    The holiday season is great for finding great deals. Take the time to look through the holiday circulars that come in your mail or arrive with the Sunday paper. Plan your shopping based on the stores that have what you want, on sale.

    Keep track of your purchases. It can be hard to remember what you bought several weeks ago (or even yesterday.) You can end up with three gifts for Aunt Sally and nothing for Aunt Jean. Now you will need to run out to purchase another gift. Keep a notebook and write down all your purchases. You can end up saving yourself time and money.

    Consider a marathon shopping expedition.
    Usually I don't recommend shopping for hours because it can be overwhelming and draining. Shopping in short bursts can help you stay more focused. However, if you have a problem with impulse purchases, consider that you increase your chances of making an impulsive purchase each time you walk into the store. That means if you go shopping ten times, you have increased your chances by ten.

  • Shop during slower times.
    Shopping early in the morning, during dinner hour or even during the week will mean less crowds and less chance of being overwhelmed. When there are less lines and less crowds, you can remain more focused on your goals.

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    Bring a friend shopping with you. Be careful on which friend you choose. Avoid bringing along a friend who also has a problem with impulsive shopping. It is probably better to wait until after the holidays to shop with this person or invite her to lunch instead. Choose a friend that will help you stay focused and will remind you to think before making your purchases .

    Some individuals with ADHD love the thrill and the adrenalin rush that comes along with last-minute shopping, choosing to do all their shopping on Christmas Eve. Others prefer to shop for short periods of time over several weeks. No matter how or when you shop, these tips can help you stay more focused and avoid impulsive purchases.


    For more information on coping with ADHD during the holidays:


    ADHD Holiday Help Guide

Published On: December 13, 2010