Guest Post: Teaching Your Children to Avoid Impulse Buying

Hi guys,

Today I have the pleasure of another fantastic guest post for you. In this post Kitty Holman will share her childhood experiences with ‘Impulse Buying’ and give us parents some great tips on how to take advantage of impulse buying to teach our kids some wonderful money lessons.

Thanks for your great post Kitty!

Enjoy everyone!

Cheers…Amanda van der Gulik…Excited Life Enthusiast! ;o)


Teaching Your Children to Avoid Impulse Buying – by Kitty Holman

When I was a child, my mother used to make me promise before I went with her on routine trips to the grocery store that I wouldn’t ask her for anything.

“We’re just picking up some food for around the house, ok? No begging for things once we get in the store,” she’d say.

I’d nod my head enthusiastically. But more often than not, something would strike my fancy and before I knew it, I was begging Mom for something from the toy aisle. If Mom managed to avoid the toy aisle (which was unfortunately situated near necessities like toilet paper and laundry soap), I’d inevitably beg for some Skittles or Starburst from the unavoidable candy racks near the register. I’m sure I caused endless frustration for my mom.

Looking back, I realize now that what I was doing was reacting to my every impulse once I got to the store. With my promise to Mom, I had every intention of not whining and begging for things. I didn’t have Skittles and Barbies in mind when I walked in the store. But as soon as I set my eyes on something shiny and new, I just HAD to have it!

How valuable it would have been for me had my mother used these opportunities as a financial lesson by talking to me about impulse buying! If you want to teach your child a lesson about impulse buying, consider the following tips:

  • Explain to your child what an impulse buy is and the difference between wants and needs. A great way to explain the meaning of “impulse buy” is to describe it as something your eyes want when they walk into a store, rather than something you went in planning to buy.
  • When your children receive money from relatives for their birthday or Christmas, or receive an allowance from you, after they’ve saved a portion, have them write a list of the things they intend to buy before you take them to their favorite store. Make sure they write down the item(s) that they really want. Explain to them before you leave that what is on their list is what they’re getting and anything else they see is an impulse buy, or what their EYES want.
  • Before you go to the grocery store with your children, ask them what they want in terms of food. Write down two or three realistic suggestions (things you’ll actually allow them to eat from time to time). Tell them that you’ll only buy the things that are on the list and that anything else they want at the store is an impulse buy, something their eyes want. When they beg for something else at the store, explain to them that you won’t buy it if it’s not on list.
  • Finally, there’s the ultimate test. Take your child to a toy store and have them write down two toys that they really want. Explain to them that they will only get two toys if they make it all the way through the store to where those two toys are without getting sidetracked by other toys or begging for other things. If they beg for a toy that’s not on the list, they lose out on their second toy. Tell them you are teaching them to shop for what they intended on buying, rather than what their eyes want.


Kitty Holman, regularly writes on the topics of nursing colleges.
She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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5 Responses to Guest Post: Teaching Your Children to Avoid Impulse Buying

  1. Kitty did hit the nail and her suggestions are great. @Kris mentions something very important too. We cannot teach our kids to do different behaviors than we model to them daily. Congruence is important.

    First we learn and incorporate our habits of success and then our kids will learn. (I secretly think the above tips from Kitty are for us, not our kids:-) )

    Thanks Amanda!

  2. Kris says:

    This is great help especially when my husband AND son have impulse buying problems. Thanks so much for sharing these tips!

    • Amanda says:

      I know didn’t Kitty truly hit the nail on the head with this one?

      Thanks so much for letting me know that you found this post helpful Kris.
      You’re so awesome! ;o)

      Cheers…Amanda…Excited Life Enthusiast! ;o)

  3. Chris says:

    I have a couple of methods I use with my children,
    When we go shopping for toys – usually after Christmas when a relative has given money – I let my children (6 & 8) know how much they have to spend. We then go around the store with paper and pen and write down all the things they “want”. After having completed that, we then look at the list and they then decide from it what they will buy – up to the amount they have to spend. It maybe takes a little longer, but there are no squabbles, no tantrums as they know from the start how it will work.
    Another thing I use to avoid impulse buys is usually to say something along the lines of “Yes, you can have that one day, just not today” and they are normally happy with that. Usually, the item is forgotten, but if it re-appears in conversations afterwards, I then know it is something they really want and ideal to sort for Christmas or birthday etc…

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks for sharing your own experiences with us Chris,

      You made two very valuable comments here, first I LOVE the way you go about letting your child spend their gift money! What a fabulous idea to go around the store first and write down all the ‘wishes’ first and then take the time to decide which one of the wishes is THE BIG WISH!! ;o)

      And your second comment deals with what I like to call ‘a healthy wealth mentality’ instead of saying they ‘can’t’ have this or that, you are making them pay attention and truly decide what they want by putting it aside for now in a positive way and then keeping an eye on how much they REALLY want it as their life goes on.

      These are two GREAT ideas, thanks soooooo much for sharing them with us all!

      You are so amazing! ;o)

      Cheers…Amanda…Excited Life Enthusiast! ;o)

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