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Winter Day

According to a report by online advertising firm Rubicon Project, American consumers are planning to spend an average of $1,175 when shopping for the holidays. Even with the best of planning, it’s inevitable that many shoppers will be tempted to spend beyond their intentions.

If you want to make wise spending decisions this holiday season, a large part of that will be resisting the impulse buys that could blow your budget. Marketers spend billions of dollars each year to capitalize on split-second buying decisions shoppers will make.

Even though retailers are betting you’ll cave to those “irresistible” deals, there are a few strategies that could help you be more intentional with your holiday spending. We’ve connected with a few experts in personal finance, consumer psychology and couponing to bring you advice that will help you stick to your holiday spending plan by avoiding impulse buys.

Have a List

First, decide how much you want to spend overall. From there, figure out if you’ll buy or make gifts for all the people on your list. Tracie Richmond Fobes of PennyPinchinMom.com says that having a list is not enough. You’ve also got to attach a budget to each item so that you can stick with the dollar amount you’re willing to spend overall. This way, you at least have wiggle room within that number in case you’re presented with an unexpected deal.

Keep Track

Many people do well with creating a list, but get a little shaky when it comes to tracking purchases against that list. It’s easy to lose track and buy extra items if you don’t realize you’ve made a listed purchase already. Make sure you note when an item from your list has been purchased. Keep all receipts for holiday purchases in one spot so you can reference them if necessary. This is also helpful to ensure that your credit card statements are accurate when the bills arrive.


Know Your Prices

According to Josh Elledge, founder of the popular couponing website Savings Angel, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the price you’ll pay for impulse buys. A little research, price comparing and shopping around can keep you from getting stuck with a last-minute buy that might not be the best deal out there.

Limit Your Options

Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks suggests you limit your shopping to online stores to avoid the barrage of marketing ploys in brick-and-mortar stores designed to motivate impulse buying.

Kendal Perez, savings expert at CouponSherpa.com advises shoppers to use cash, saying, “If you struggle with sticking to a list or avoiding impulse buys, leave the credit card at home and withdraw your holiday budget in cash.” Another option is to call your credit card issuers and place a daily limit on your spending.

Give Yourself Time

Dr. Art Markman, a cognitive scientist who studies and writes about impulse buying, suggests that consumers make a decision to buy after some thought. He says, “If you find something in a store you want to buy on impulse, tell yourself that you will come back and get it at the end of the shopping trip if you still want it. Chances are, you won’t go back to get it later.”

Be Accountable

Share your holiday spending goals with someone who can encourage you and keep you accountable to your shopping plan. If you’ve got a friend with a similar goal of sticking to planned purchases only, team up and hit the stores together. As a team, you’re more likely to be able to ward off impulsive buying decisions.

Be In Control

Different emotional and physiological states can affect your ability to make good decisions. Hunger, sadness, anger, depression, being over-caffeinated or shopping after one too many eggnogs are times to dodge frivolous spending. It might take some planning to make sure you’re at the top of your mental game, but it’s worth it in order to avoid buying things that don’t fit into your budget.

These are just a few strategies that can help you control your spending this holiday season. With just a few changes in your holiday shopping routine, you can be empowered to resist impulse buys and stick to your budget.

What are some ways you keep your budget in check during the holidays? How do you avoid indulging in impulse purchases? Share your experiences with fellow readers below!

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