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How do you avoid impulse purchases?

My advice (which I follow in non-beauty, since I have the good fortune of needing to buy new products all the time for the blog!): 1) remind myself of how often impulse buys tend to bite me in the rear, 2) tell myself that if I’m still interested in it in a week or two, then I can give it real consideration, 3) remind myself of any financial/life goals that an impulse purchase would get in the way of.

— Christine


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Sadra Avatar

Unsubscribe from email lists. I’m amazed at how much less I’m buying just by NOT getting the daily emails.

Picture the item stored with all of the others in your stash. For instance, I picture a new blush in my blush drawer, with all of the others. Is it still worth it? Somehow picturing it in a drawer with all of the other blushes makes it less glamorous and special. For me this works especially well for eye shadow palettes.

Finally, get a sample first. Sephora and Nordstrom are both pretty good with this, and more often than not, a sample satisfies my curiosity, I don’t need to purchase the full size. This is really good for perfumes.

Karen J. Avatar

Great advice!
There is a site, SoChoix, that let you purchase samples of anything on their site for $5. Very good sized samples (some lasted over a month). Anything from mascara, blush, eyeshadow, nail polish from brands like Dior, Nars, Chanel. I saved so much money this way by satisfying my curiosity and by realizing I didn’t HAVE to own a product. If I did decide I really wanted an item the $5 for the sample was used as a credit. Unfortunately, on Jan 1, the site decided to go totally subscription and I’m not sure if the savings would work the same for me now. For someone who is just venturing into high end cosmetics I do recommend it, I found that the customer service was exceptional too.

Nancy T Avatar

Love your 3 tips above, Christine! Ones I really ought to print up for myself and frame. I’ve gotten better about impulse buys, but they do still occur from time to time. Basically, right now, I do tell myself that very last one you mentioned: will this purchase impact my financial/life goals. Another one is asking myself do I *really* need/ love it THAT much, will I actually get significant use/ enjoyment out of it or is it just a whim, if any question mark in my mind exists, I’ll sit with it a bit before I buy it. Especially if it’s a pricier item.

Lulle Avatar

I try to postpone the purchase, and a good way to convince myself is to decide to wait for a sale. By the time a sale comes around, I usually don’t feel like getting the item anymore.
I also try to ask myself if I really need it, if it would bring something new and unique to my stash/wardrobe, if it can help me achieve a goal (for example I recently did an active wear haul buying things I didn’t necessarily need objectively, but that can help motivate me to reach my fitness goals. Same thing could be true of, say, some home decor helping motivate me to keep the house tidier, etc), or if it’s really an exceptional deal.
If I answer no to all these questions, then I try to exit the store/close the webpage to avoid temptation.

Sarah Avatar

My husband…. Having to explain the purchase! In all seriousness, I look for dupes in my own collection or go “shopping” in the downstairs bathroom where I keep all my extras. At this point I pretty much have everything I need.

I also get sample boxes instead, which are significantly cheaper and almost always satisfy a “want”.

bibi Avatar

#1 is reminding myself how often impulse buys tend to bite me in the rear.
I buy a lot in airport duty free shops and there’s A LOT of temptation!!! I have an entire drawerful of rear-biters from when I didn’t read reviews before buying!!!! I remind myself to focus on quality since I usually buy the same colors/finishes anyway. (How many pink shimmery lippies, pale gold highlighters, & rosy beige blushes does one need???)

Marie-Estelle Avatar

Those are good advice Christine!

I would like to add that it is in general important to identify what you could be a new addition in your collection, what your collection is missing so that when one product tempts you (especially LE ones), you already have the tools to decide if you want it. Since I determined how I want my collection to be, I find it easier to resist. Impulse buys don’t have to become mistakes!

If you already have everything, search for dupes in your collection and shop your stash.

Trying to remember that it is just make up helps! The hype can make you forget it ?.

I personally try to take some distance with the brands realising more and more LE (and in small quantities). Hunting a product can be stressful and I don’t need that in my life.

AB Avatar

Same for me — perspective and rules.. Years back when I was working out of a debt situation, my ‘aha’ moment came when I used an online calculator to see how much small savings adds up over time. So assuming the possible purchase is within budget in the first place, I calculate how much that cost spent monthly would add up to in a year, and consider what is on my ‘need’ list. I also check my stash to see if I already have something close enough. If I’m still on the fence and it’s an expensive item, I’ll make myself wait a day. Doesn’t always work, but often does.

LindaP Avatar

Research, sampling and trying on.

Research — I really, really try to research products before I buy them. If nothing else, it slows down the purchase, which takes the impulse out of the equation.

Sampling — I’m lucky enough to live in an area where I have lots of stores nearby like Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks, etc. Many, many times I will get samples before purchasing. That either confirms, changes my mind, or rules things out. Example, I got a sample of the EL highlighting primer. I like it quite a bit. I thought it would replace my Becca Backlight Primer. After a month of using the sample, it won’t. The Becca wins. My head was turned for a moment, but time told the story.

Sampling — I want a new red lipstick and the recent post here was timely. I was sure the Guerlain Garconne would be it. Tried it on — nope. The other formula in Red Bow Tie looked much nice on me. Still not sure, so I’ll wait.

Debbie Avatar

The KonMari method of tidying up carries forward into my daily life. I ask myself will this really make me happy. If the answer is no or I have to really think about it then the item in question stays in the store and my money stays in my wallet.

Beth Avatar

I work an hourly job, so I calculate how long I’ll have to work to make up the money lost in an impulse buy. Usually when I remind myself that I’m about to throw away three hours of work on something random it snaps me back to reality.

Celia Avatar

My method is similar to yours, Christine. Step 1 is to consider what I have in my collection and specifically look through the category for shade and finish approximations. Then I leave it be for as long as possible, seeing if I still have it in my cart or on a list and genuinely want it and have use for it. I use similar products in the meantime to see if I can mimic the look or effect. Financial consequences are considered throughout and I definitely make myself think of any impulses that bit me in the ass.

Fran Avatar

If I’m in a mood to just treat myself to something new, I’ll try to keep it to something that’s not not super-expensive, but that I really like. The most fun impulse purchases are those that I try out in-store, especially if it’s something I hadn’t thought of getting before, but it turns out that I really like it. Ordering online is great for lots of reasons, but I don’t get as much fun out of it, especially for impulse purchases, when I’m more inclined to just worry that I might be wasting my money while I wait for the package, instead of being excited about it. Although both the Touch in Sol Touch In Sol Metallist Liquid Foil & Glitter Eye Shadow Duos and the Chosungah22 Dong Gong Minn Brow Maker were online impulse purchases for me, and I love both of them. So I don’t have a strict policy against online impulse purchases. I’ll think about all the other things I want, and remember that I can’t have everything, I’ve got to choose my priorities.

Deborah S. Avatar

Great strategies, Christine. I try to get out of the store before purchasing and tell myself that if I still want it in a week I will come back and buy it. Since I live in rural Montana and have to drive 3 hours to Spokane, WA to buy it that usually does the trick. I really hate that drive as it is not on freeway. I have also committed to reading reviews before purchasing, especially on products that I am looking at on-line and cannot feel and try in person. Again, it doesn’t always work, hence the Persona Cosmetics Identity eye shadow palette I just purchased!! Overall, I must admit, since it isn’t about what I need anymore but rather what I want, many times I won’t even try to talk myself out of it. The area where I really try to work on my spending is buying things that I know won’t work for me even though they are hyped or are really pretty. I want to be able to use the things that I buy.

Pearl Avatar

It is difficult for me, especially if it’s from a brand that I collect or buy from. At this point I have to either purge to make room or it will get stowed away in a drawer instead of being able to be displayed so that keeps me in check. I like the way I’ve displayed and organized everything and I don’t want to ruin the aesthetic. I have to be very careful from this point forward not to go into hoarding territory because I know I have dupes for dupes for dupes.

Another way for me is I pay only cash, no more charging and then paying it off. Those two rules keep me from automatically clicking the buy button.

Shannon. N Avatar

I have no money, being a student/drowning in medical bills. So that helps 😛

But for real. I always read up on the product first, I always read the ingredients to see if my skin will react, etc.

I also try and tell myself. Am I buying this because I LIKE IT, or Because Its a good sale!! I’v been known to buy the 2 for 5 lipsticks at walmart withouth needing any more lipstick 😛

Chelsea Avatar

Weird but I’m really OCD about being organized so I have an excel spreadsheet of what I have: the brand, color, date purchased and price. When I see something I want, I consult the list. Am I almost out of something similar or do I have too much of one product already? If that fails then I wait a week or so to avoid the impulse. It usually works.

Kayla Avatar

….I thought I was the only person who made spreadsheets for everything. I usually make them when researching/comparing products to buy, especially for a large or expensive purchase. But in regards to beauty, I have one made up for my lipsticks and which lipliner goes with each one, because it’s very hard for me to remember which liner goes with what lipstick offhand. I have about 50 lipsticks and 25 liners, and some pairings are very obvious (black, blue, purple, green, etc.), but the nudes + pinks + berries are harder to match up at a glance, especially when in a hurry. So that’s hanging by my makeup area. I also have one for my nail polish that I printed out, swatched my polishes on, and took a photo of with my phone so I always have a copy of it with me so whenever I see a polish in a store and I think “oh, that’s cute,” I can check the swatch spreadsheet and remind myself that “surely, you must have a color like it in your collection of almost 60 damn polishes.” I usually do, haha.

Kayla Avatar

Well, I unfortunately don’t have a lot of space for my makeup stash, so all of the small things are in makeup bags and the eyeshadow palettes are in a drawer. It’s really not helpful when it comes to being able to SEE everything/remember what I actually have so I can avoid the impulse buys. Because if you can’t remember “do I have a blush in that color already?,” you kind of want a blush in that color when it’s in your hands at the store screaming at you, and then you may end up with a dupe. Sites like Temptalia are great for avoiding that with a lot of mid/highend things, but I have a ton of drugstore stuff that Christine sadly does not have swatches of, so then I have to begin a Google image search that could take forever and may end up being fruitless (if no one compared the exact products I need in the same image, it’s hard to compare the two products in two different images – different skin tones, lighting conditions, etc.) Basically, in addition to trying to stay as organized as possible with lists and spreadsheets and physically looking at/swatching my stash as much as I can, I just have to remind myself that “hey, you don’t have any space/money for this,” lol. Like I need to research what I feel i need ahead of time, go to the store/go online shopping with a plan of attack, and only purchase what I set out to buy. I’m usually pretty good about it now. Self control is hard but it’s become necessary for me. It’s my goal this year to find a way to rearrange some things so I can have more actual storage space in my makeup area and maybe get some organizers so it will be easier for me to “shop my stash.”

Stefanie Avatar

Unsubscribe from emails or delete them without opening, unfollow my favorite stores on Facebook and Instagram. I found that a LOT of my unplanned purchases came from emails about sales or tempting photos on Instagram. What you don’t know won’t hurt you!

Denise Avatar

I hear ya Bon Bon. I am the same way. UGH!!!! Especially being I am 10 minutes from Sephora, Ultra and department stores. It kills me to $$$$$$ on a product that doesn’t do what I expected it to/or looks horrible on. But these stores have excellent return policies, so back to the store they go.

SheilaKing Avatar

I remind myself of what I REALLY want to but. If that doesn’t work I check my stash to find similar items so I can convince myself that I don’t need it!

Caroline Avatar

The words Limited Edition are enough for me to hang onto my money. I can’t be bothered with all the hype or chasing the product all over the internet. It’s only makeup – not the crown jewels or something worthwhile pursuing.

Anne Avatar

Make an amazon wishlist so “have” it in that way, wait on it, and if I really want it, put a note on my budget for the next month to save for it. That way if come next month it isn’t as wanted, I can use that money for something else, and if not I have the spending ability to get it. That’s what I’m doing for the NARS blush palettes and the Hourglass Lip Stylos.

Also in general aside from blogs and such, I try to avoid email lists and other advertising stuff as they’re easy for me to get sucked into sales and the like. I’m also working on reorganizing my makeup right now (just waiting on some lipstick risers) to make things more visible so I know what I already have.

Deborah Avatar

I try so hard not to do this but lately I have been out of control. I ordered the new Chanel
CAMÉLIA DE CHANEL ILLUMINATING POWDER (had to copy and paste that!) and now I wish I hadn’t. If I stay away from videos, FB, MAC and other makeup sites I do just fine. Hard to stay away from something I love so much.

Erin Avatar

Being poor helps 😛 I try to limit my purchases to what I need for skincare and a basic cosmetic routine. I allow a few fun purchases per season when I have the funds to do so. I always look for a hole in my collection as well. Right now I have like 8 or 9 red lip products. I probably don’t need another until I make in dent in my stash. Doesn’t mean I don’t want one, though.

Kyra Avatar

I try to have a buying limit for each pay period. So I try to stay under 100$ per pay period and if I know what’s coming up, I can assess what to buy. If I know it’s going to be something highly anticipated (I.e. The Kylie Peach Palette) then I will try to just get it. But if it’s something that can wait, I tell myself to wait! lol I’ve gotten sooo much better lol

Pasheeda Morris Avatar

How to avoid impulse purchases…
1.) Have an clear idea regarding the potential makeup item you want to purchase.
2.) Always do your research before making any purchases. Think about how this product would/wouldn’t fit into your makeup routine.
3.) Stick with the planned makeup purchase. That’s how you avoid impulse purchases @ the makeup counter.

Tammy Avatar

My screen blanked out and I think I lost my post, so I hope this isn’t a repeat. Anyway, I can’t avoid impulse purchases. I’m an impulse shopper with a makeup addiction, and it’s just literally a craving. I just have to buy stuff, or order it, and I do make a lot of purchases that I regret later. I spend a lot of time reading makeup reviews but that doesn’t necessarily stop me from buying things that are wrong for me, or that I don’t need. My stash makes me hapoy, though!

Silvia Avatar

Unsubscribe from every page about beauty if I don’t see ptetty things I won’t have so much temptation. Even pages such as this one if someone mentions or lots of people agree on a certain product being all that great and deserves the hype then I’m drawn to check it out. Curiosity killed the cat…in this case my wallet. Lol!
I’m drawn to colors and all beautiful packaging whether great quality or not now those Milani Rose blushes and the latest the Lancôme rose highlighter omg! I just drool! And I love gardening so I want to collect them all! 🙂

Trish Avatar

I try to do some research on the product-look at videos that actually show the product reviews, etc. Usually I give myself freedom on items about $20 or less on something I consider non-essential. I wait to get higher end items when I get extra bonus at work or around tax time! Make sure to try on at the store. My weakness is eye shadow pallettes!

Jenny G Avatar

If I am in a store I tell myself that if I find it online with a cupom than I’ll buy it. And if I am in a online store I tell myself that I need to see it or try it in person to buy it.
If I keep that thing on my mind than I resarch a lot to see if it is good or so….

Shirley Avatar

I’ve had this problem ever since my first job at age 28. So every month, I download all my credit card and checking account transactions into Quicken. I have to do this once a month. If I let it slide, I forget what I bought. Also I save all my receipts each month to help with this reconciliation. I categorize every expense into about 25 categories, one of which is “Shirley’s Personal”. Then I shred all the paperwork for that month except the ones I need to keep for taxes. I have used this method for approx. 40 years. I purchase a lot on-line because I live in the middle of nowhere. So I probably return about half of my on-line purchases. This is a very hard problem to work on, but knowing what you actually spend is the only way to control it. Hope this helps those of you out there.

Kat Avatar

For permanent products, I go through a process of 1) looking up dupes to see if I have any, 2) looking up reviews and swatches by people with my skintone/type, 3) gazing longingly at its Sephora page, 4) finally convincing myself that if I still want it by the Sephora VIB/Rouge sale that I can get it. It’s harder for me to resist limited edition products, but I try do do the same thing.

Elizabeth Avatar

I haven’t been buying on impulse much anymore. I stop and think about the products I already have, and unless it’s something extremely different from what I have, I just don’t buy it. A lot of things I just want, I just wait to see if it goes on deep discount. I have so many things, it’s hard to justify spending the money for something that I may have a dupe for. I keep finding things in my stash and they almost become new again to me. I have Trucco’s Holographic collection, the Angel Face collection, and it is just like the new Kat VonD’s new holographic shadows, and the lip powders are great for a matte lip. It’s too bad this line was discontinued, they were always so ahead of their time. Trucco also has five powders, and they apply like butter. They aren’t powdery, apply wonderfully, and the shift in colors is amazing. I have the lip palette as well, and it’s great for highlighting the lips as well as a really cool ombre’ lip look. It too has five different colors, and the formula is amazing, and they look great layered over lip stick or gloss for a different look. They also work well with the lip powders.

Silvia Avatar

I don’t, I fall in the trap like a fly in honey. My excuse is I do drugstore but still is an added expense I’m aware I don’t need like right now i am fully covered have plenty of everything but oh! Is so tempting! I need to stop! Trying to. Have tons of eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks, eyeliners, bronzers, contour, foundation, highliters, mascara and love everything!

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