follow us on

Train Your Brain Against Impulse Buying

It’s been a long and tiring week at work. You met a dozen deadlines, clocked in hours of meetings and to top it all off, your boss has been breathing down your neck. It’s Friday and the 3-day sale is on. You head to the mall, still feeling the week’s stress looming over you but also feeling pretty pleased with how you pulled a “Wonder Woman” act and got everything in order. Huge red posters screaming, “sale!” greet you and you drift to the sale rack and start grabbing everything that catches your eye. You have been assaulted by a medley of splurge triggers and you gladly submit to the shopping siren.

Shopping is a sensory experience. Retail establishments carefully orchestrate the experience – from the scent and temperature of the shop, the strategic placement of lights to guide your eyes to the items they want you to buy, to the arrangement of racks and pricing schemes. All these factors contribute to the overall ambiance that will make you feel happy and inspired to shop.

Shopping is, after all, very emotional. It’s an experience you feel you have full control of. When you shop, your likes, wants, and needs become the utmost priority.

Whereas shopping inspires feelings of great elation, the receipt of your credit card bill or the balance of your bank account is often met with anxiety. To avoid this rollercoaster of emotions triggered by your spending habits and to empower you to control your personal finances, it helps to know what your splurge triggers are and how you can address them to avoid irrational spending. Spending wisely helps you save not only money, but also your sanity!


Splurge Trigger: “SALE!”

A quick social media survey revealed that sales are the biggest trigger for people. A good bargain is too hard to pass up. It’s also the best justification for a purchase.

Train Your Brain: Sales happen all the time. Remind yourself that you should not buy from each and every sale. You can, however, time your planned purchases around sale periods to avail of better offers. Get used to planning your purchases. Do not buy items that you did not plan to buy.


Splurge Trigger: “I’m so stressed.” “I’m tired.” “I’m feeling blue.”

Shopping is often used as a mood booster. For avid shoppers, browsing, trying and acquiring is highly pleasurable. For compulsive shoppers, the rush that comes with shopping may end in “buyer’s remorse” and anxiety over unnecessary expenses.

Train Your Brain: Find other ways to deal with your negative emotions. Engage in endorphin-producing physical activities like jogging or yoga. Try cathartic activities like writing in your journal, de-cluttering your home or hanging out with your friends.


Splurge Trigger: “I deserve a reward!”

You’ve worked so hard so you might as well reward yourself for a job well done!

Train Your Brain: Consider saving up for a more valuable reward rather than a random purchase. Set a reward goal for yourself, like a much-needed getaway or an investment piece like a proper watch, jewelry or art.


Splurge Trigger: “If I don’t buy this now, I probably won’t find this elsewhere…”

Travel finds are always interesting but do you really need all those souvenirs? Will you want them around your house after five years?

Train Your Brain: Think before you swipe. Will your purchase add value to you and your home? Or will it just add clutter? Set a pasalubong shopping budget and remember that travel is about the experience and not the souvenirs. Consider compiling a visual diary of your trip instead.


Splurge Trigger: “This is so cheap, I don’t even have to think twice about buying it.”

Beauty items, novelty items, accessories and random finds from bargain shops are perfect impulse buys. They’re so cheap you hardly feel the pinch.

Train Your Brain: Remember that it all adds up! 88 pesos here and there will eventually add up to a couple of thousand pesos a month. Always have the need vs. want debate with yourself! 


This article was originally published as "Stop Impulse Buying" by Rosario T. Juan in Working Mom. Changes have been made for Metro.Style.