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We’ve all been there, in a store after a terrible day and something fun catches our eye. You know at that moment that you just have to have it. Or perhaps you are the “drink a bottle of wine and surf Amazon at midnight” type. Whatever the case may be, impulse buying happens to everybody at one point or another. Sometimes impulse buys turn out to be excellent decisions, and other times they leave us shaking our heads and clutching our wallets in embarrassment.

Impulse Spending Increased by 18% in 2020!

In January of 2020, before the pandemic, the average American spent on average $155.03 every month on impulse buys. During the pandemic, a new survey by SlickDeals shows that that figure has increased by 18% to $182.98. That means in one year, Americans will spend around $2,195 on impulse purchases. So what are we buying?

We searched Reddit for impulse buying stories, and here is what the internet had to say about the best and worst impulse buys they’ve ever made.

What Is the Best or Worst Impulse Buy You’ve Ever Made?

1. The Pre-COVID Impulse Buy

Imagine the optimism of buying a shiny, new passport holder days before a year-long lockdown at the start of a global pandemic.  

2. Buying While Buzzed

Having a few drinks and online shopping is frighteningly easy and by far the most popular scenario for impulse purchasing. With one click, you can buy almost anything. Take it from these Redditors who made purchases that range from sensible to silly.

3. The Siren Song of the Clearance Rack

Buying at a discount always seems like a good idea until you have a closet full of nothing to wear. 

4. You Impulse Bought What?!

Yes, people really do impulse buy cars. Evidently, it’s more common than you might think. File this under, things you probably shouldn’t do at a car dealership unless a casual Mercedes is in your budget.

5. The Two Best Days After Impulse Buying a Boat 

This Redditor discovered that buying a boat is both the best and worst impulse buying decision he’s ever made.

6. Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have

StitchFix is a popular clothing subscription service that sends clothes in the mail every month. The boxes can be an affordable way to update your wardrobe. We hope this Redditor found a job before the second box shipped the following month. 

7. Cosmetics for the Giga Pet Generation

When the Giga pets generation grew up and started buying beauty products, Korean advertisers knew what to do. After all, who could say no to a hand mirror shaped like a bunny? Or a blush compact covered in pandas? Korean brands know the power of tiny cute animals.

8. Does Anyone Even Wear Vests?

What kind of vests? What do you do for a living? Where are you finding all of these vests? So many questions. So many vests. 

9. Night Vision Goggles To The Rescue

You never know when you’ll need night vision goggles, but if you ever do, a cute kitten is at the top of the list for good reasons. So if you ever get the impulse to buy night vision goggles and someone questions you, just say: but wat if my bebBY KIttin escApez ento teh wodz at nite aNd i to go rescue himb?” plz?Works every time. 

10. Impulse Buys Are In Eye of the Wallet Holder

Some people impulse buy big-ticket items, but all fun or non-essential purchases can feel like impulse buys for people on tight budgets.

Impulse Buying and Happiness

The saying goes money can’t buy happiness, but new data shows that impulse purchases can make you feel happier if they meet specific criteria. A study in the Sage Journals found that people were happier when they bought things aligned with their character and lifestyle.

So if impulse buying a Mercedes, giant googly eyes for your car, or a compact shaped like a panda aligns with your values (and your budget), then it could make you happier! 

The key is not to overdo it. Impulse shopping too often means the enjoyment of shopping will wear off faster.

Why Do We Impulse Shop?

Impulse shopping is fun! It can also be a distraction from things we don’t want to think about at that moment. Increasingly, however, impulse buying is triggered by peer pressure and influence. The power of suggestion is strong on social media and via targeted advertising with algorithms tuned to our interests. 

Reasons Social Media Influences Impulse Buys

  • Emotional Support
  • Targeted Ads
  • Enjoyment 
  • Peer Influence

Keep Impulse Buys Under Control

An occasional impulse purchase every now and then isn’t a bad thing, as long as you are spending within your budget and not doing great harm to your financial security. If you think you might be overdoing it, here are a few tips to help remove temptation.

  • Regularly clear your browsing history to minimize paid ads
  • Window shop online in an incognito window
  • Steer clear of social media apps when you are likely to overspend
  • Give yourself a waiting period before committing to a purchase
  • Disconnect autofill from your payment information on your computer

Interested in how social media influences our buying habits? Read more on our blog.

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