How to Fight Impulse Buying and Instant Gratification to Save Money

A woman using cash to make a coffee purchase and to avoid impulse buying.

In our everyday financial choices, we often face options that test our ability to delay gratification. These options typically come in two forms. First, an easy option that promises or offers instant pleasure like impulse buying. Second, a more challenging option that delays pleasure in favor of a bigger goal or purpose. These trade-offs are everywhere. For instance, you can spend money on that new phone today or save it for future use.

Studies show that delaying gratification is one of the most effective character traits of financially secure people. These are individuals who have mastered the art of controlling their need to feel satisfied in the moment.

So, if you're striving and looking forward to being financially secure, perhaps it's time to borrow a leaf from these successful individuals. Wondering how? Read on.

Know Your Goals

Let's face it: if you have no reason to delay buying that expensive dress, you'll struggle to resist the urge. The first step when learning how to delay gratification with impulse buying entails knowing your goals.

So, think about what you want to achieve in 6 months, 3 years, and even 10 years. Ask yourself what you must do to get there. For example, if you want to own a home in 5 years, you will need to save money every month. That means you may have to delay the instant pleasure that comes with buying expensive dresses, eating out frequently, and reducing the number of times you go on vacation.

Focus on Other Rewards Instead of Impulse Buying

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to delayed gratification is the loss of immediate pleasure or reward. And this is why.

We're conditioned to think that we work hard to make money so we can buy what we want whenever we feel like it. So when payday comes, we convince ourselves that we deserve a treat. And that can push us to buy products that may not align with our goals.

If this describes your situation, try focusing on another reward. For example, if you stopped going on vacation to buy a house, plan to take three or more vacations per year after achieving that goal.

Use Cash as Much as Possible

Many financial experts attribute the steady rise in consumer spending and debt to the use of cards as a mode of payment. Research has even shown that adults spend up to 20% more money when they pay using their cards.

When you have money in your pocket, you're less likely to let go of it fast. So use cash as much as possible. It can help you manage the urge to spend money on something in the moment.

Use What-If Scenarios to Avoid Impulse Buying

Financial experts say that the best decisions come when one looks down the road. And one of the best ways for doing that is by employing what-if scenarios. It allows you to visualize the impact on each choice you make.

Let's say, for example, your vehicle breaks down. You have two options: to repair it or buy a new car.

When you consider what-if scenarios, you will ask yourself whether you have enough money to make a down payment without borrowing. If not, you will opt to repair it to safeguard your financial situation.

If you take this strategy further, it can even help you choose between choosing a permanent fix or a temporary one. At both levels, it will help you delay gratification and put you in a great position to save money by opting for a less costly solution.

Avoid Impulse Buying

Mastering the ability to avoid impulse buying or delay gratification is difficult, but not impossible. If you succeed, you regain control of your finances and increase your chances of achieving financial freedom sooner. We hope these tips help you do that. Good luck!


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