Clark Howard’s #1 tip to resist impulse buying

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Online shopping is a great convenience, but it can also lead to impulse buying. With one click of the mouse or tap of a finger, you can make a major purchase — and it’s easy to keep spending.

That’s why it’s essential to come up with a plan when you’re shopping online.

Money expert Clark Howard helps people save money not only by showing them how to get out of debt, but by helping them to resist impulse shopping. Read on to see his #1 tip…

Clark’s #1 tip to avoid impulse buying and overspending

Clark says that online stores excel at creating a sense of urgency around shopping. You may even see notifications and banners that say “Only two left” or “Limited number remain” to get you to buy now.

If you’ve found the item you want online, don’t make the purchase immediately! Follow Clark’s simple rule instead to make sure it’s not an impulse purchase:

“The key is to put it in your cart and walk away.”

Clark recommends you leave an item in your online shopping cart for a full day and then come back to it. Here are two reasons why you should wait 24 hours before you purchase something online:

1. You may find that you really don’t need the item that you put in your cart.

One of the big issues with impulse shopping and overspending is the data that’s collected on us from the websites we visit and items we click on, including browser cookies.

Walking away from the computer or phone for a day lets you “ignore all the ads that follow you around,” Clark says.

2. You might receive a coupon or discount code that you can apply toward your purchase.


Retailers may send you an email with an incentive to complete the purchase when you abandon a shopping cart online. If you determine that you need the item after 24 hours, you can at least save some money on it!

Incognito mode lets you browse in private

Clark says another strategy to resist impulse buying online is to shop in incognito mode in your web browser. “In incognito mode, the ads aren’t going to follow you,” he says.

Some people may feel that it’s better to shop in their regular browser rather than in incognito mode. Let’s look at both sides:

Should you online shop in incognito mode?

Pros Cons
Sites don’t save your login credentials Extra discounts based on what you clicked on likely won’t be offered
Reduces related item or store advertisements from following you Because your browser history won’t be saved, you won’t be able to pick up where you left when you end your online session


Clark’s main advice to reduce impulse spending is to add the item to your online shopping cart  — and walk away.

After 24 hours, you may be able to approach the purchase with a fresh mind and make a better decision for your wallet.

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