One Thing I Do to Curb Impulse Buys

How to Curb Impulse Buys
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

One Thing I Do to Curb Impulse Buys

Have you ever been sitting on the couch in the evening, just scrolling through endless pages of new clothing?

As you go, you add things to your cart. Before you know it, you’re sitting there with your credit card in hand, ready to make a purchase you couldn’t have ever imagined making two hours earlier.

Without even thinking about it, you were about to make an impulse buy.

I have to admit, I do this more often than I’d like. And it’s not so much because I really want to shop. It’s that online shopping is kind of like a game. It’s a way to keep my mind occupied without too much actual thinking.

A few nights ago, I was just about to pay for two pairs of jeans when it dawned on me that I hadn’t tried on my denim collection since early spring.

So, instead of making my purchase, I ventured into my bedroom, threw all my jeans on the bed, and tried each pair on.

As I went through my stack (I have something like eight pairs of jeans), I noticed pairs I had forgotten about. I also found that things from the last couple seasons fit better than I remembered.

After trying things on, I realized a few things:

  • I already have denim in some of the styles and colors I was looking at online
  • I already have more pairs than I can wear in a week
  • I don’t actually need a pair of jeans in every variant of blue
  • Buying another pair of light wash mom jeans does not meet my goal of building a more professional wardrobe

I learned a valuable lesson that day…

My Tip? Pay attention to what you have before making another purchase!

Some people make spreadsheets of everything they own. That is not my style.

Some people have a really good memory, and can mentally flip through their wardrobe. I have some notable gaps and lapses.

I tend to be a visual learner. So, for me, the best thing I can do is physically look at all of my clothes: touch them, try them on, and reassess wants versus needs.

Interrupt the Process

I suspect that if I tried this every time I was about to make a purchase, the purchase just wouldn’t happen. And it’s not only because I would realize that my current wardrobe is perfectly serviceable.

It’s also because physically getting up and going through the process of looking at my things interrupts the ritual of online shopping. Once I’m out of the trance of scrolling and clicking, I can get some perspective on why I was doing it in the first place.

And, most likely, I wasn’t shopping because I wanted to be shopping. I was doing it because I was bored or agitated, or maybe because I was feeling inadequate in some way.

Paying attention is a mindfulness practice. It grounds us in what is rather than theoreticals. It confronts the fashion marketing that tells us that we can be everything we hoped to be if we just buy the right stuff.

Interrupting the marketing voice reminds us that we are already enough.

What do you do to curb impulse buys?

More in Personal Style

Related: Seasons + Salt, 5 Things I’m NOT Doing with My Wardrobe This Fall

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

May we recommend...


  1. Buying less is very much a work in progress for me, but honestly one of the best things I’ve done is NOT get rid of clothes I don’t wear that much, unless it is truly defunct. Feeling like my closet is a little overstuffed is a surprisingly effective deterrent. (Sorry, Mari Kondo! I do love you!!)

    I just mentioned on another post of yours that I’m also trying to learn how to make my own clothes, so asking, “could I make something similar one day?” is also working, at least for now!

  2. I write what I am thinking of getting down on a piece of paper, then let it sit at least overnight. The main thing is to NOT leave the items in any sort of shopping cart.

    1. That’s such a good idea. If it’s too much of a hassle to find them and put them back in the cart, then they’re probably not worth getting!

  3. Camille Emefa Acey

    I keep a Pinterest board of clothes I have to remind me of what I already have.

    1. Oooh. That’s a good idea!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.