Impulse shopping

You know how bars sometimes have a two (or three) drink minimum? I think stores like Target and Trader Joe’s should just own up to the reality that they, too, have a minimum admission cost.

Target almost always costs me at least 50 bucks every time I set foot in there. Even when I start with a fairly small list, it adds up fast. Say I walk in there with the goal of buying soap for the kitchen, laundry detergent and toothpaste. Those items are likely to cost me around $15. But then, ooh, look at those cute tote bags on sale by the front door! And hmmm, aren’t we nearly out of dishwasher detergent, too? And we can always use more paper towels, so I should get the big $12 multi-pack.

Before you know it, I’ve put way, way more than $50 worth of stuff in my cart, and I haven’t even dared to stroll by the seasonal aisles. That’s when the urge to impulse-purchase really gets dangerous. I’m a sucker for the all the cute picnic gear they sell every summer. Even though I rarely have picnics. But all the little coordinated plates and bowls and gear are so bright and colorful and cute and couldn’t we just use a few? They’re useful anyway. And they’re only a couple of dollars each…which adds up…see how it happens?

Trader Joe’s isn’t much better, although I can occasionally escape for around $20 or $25. That is, IF I’ve already been to another grocery store within the last few days. It also helps to eat before I go. But still. It’s hard to resist all those gourmet cookies and breads and dried fruits. Fresh flowers. Boxes of clementines. Unusual cleverly-named six-packs of beer. Don’t even ask about the belgian waffle butter cookies. Or the dark chocolate-covered pretzels.

You’re probably either nodding your head in all-too-familiar agreement or you’re shaking your head and thinking, “Get some financial discipline. And make a list.” Yeah, I know. I do try to minimize the number of trips I take to either store, but it’s hard when we never seem to run out of things at the right time to allow me to do that. And I do write out shopping lists, too. I try to stick to them. I even (gasp) have started cutting out coupons and using them recently.

But I’m still such a sucker for the well-placed impulse item. And I have a bad habit for rationalizing an impulse purchase if I’ve just saved some money from using my coupons. I’ll rationalize to myself that I just saved $2 on laundry detergent and $3 on diapers and $1 on freezer bags, so why not get a purple tank top?

I should wear blinders in stores, like a horse.


About jenniferlarsonwrites

I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College. I'm a born-and-bred Southerner who spent a few years in Southern California, a rabid baseball fan and a would-be grower of tomatoes. You can also visit me at LinkedIn or on Twitter at @JenniferLarson.
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4 Responses to Impulse shopping

  1. Kate Taylor says:

    I just got back from Trader Joe’s with four bottles of wine I didn’t know I needed ..

  2. Shab says:

    You are not alone, my friend. You are not alone.

  3. Diane says:

    They both have appealing displays and products. I have to be very focused on my list to get out of those two stores without getting twice as much as I had planned.

  4. ehalvey says:

    Target definitely has a $50 minimum to let me leave the building. It was so bad, I gave it up for Lent one year.

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