When you go to the store for paper plates and balloons and come home with a swing set, you know you are in trouble. I actually heard that in a conversation. Someone was telling about a friend who was sent to a big box store to buy birthday supplies and he came home with a swing set.

Another story I heard when I mentioned this to a friend was that she went to buy some gluten free products and returned with two shirts, Christmas decorations, some wine on sale and a new TV among other things.

If any of you suffer from this impulse buying and have every intention to just buy two pizzas and cereal but find a hot tub in your cart, you are not alone. More than 90% of people who shop today make occasional purchases that they didn’t intend to buy. More than 40% of consumers spend more money than they had planned in stores, and up to 20% of the average household grocery bills come from items that were purchased on impulse alone.

Shoes are among the top sellers for extra purchases, but who can resist that strappy little number or those fur-lined boots you just remembered you always wanted. What’s more, there are always new and improved kitchen gadgets, because everyone needs to make authentic Italian gelato at home and life is hardly worth living without an Instant Pot.

If actual store shopping has us behaving in a rash manner, online shopping can be even worse. Although the bulk of adult impulse buying is done in stores by older adults, 80% of younger shoppers make their impulse buying online according to Adobe Analytics. Spontaneous behavior with instant gratification is part of their modus operandi.

As for older adults, sitting in the comfort of our own homes, drinking tea in our pajamas, knowing that items will be delivered to the front door is comforting and requires no hassles or a change of clothes. But the cost per year is astronomical.

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While most of the in-store spontaneous buying involves eating, and no one can fault a person for buying an extra bag of chips and salsa or that gallon of ice cream, food is the least of our consumption costs. The estimated cost is $5,400 a year. This was formulated by a survey by Slickdeals.net and only 2,000 people were surveyed, but we all know what the words “sale,” “discount,” “deal of the day” and “Tuesday special” does to our adrenaline.

Shopping might be fun, and the rewards of consumerism are well-known, but with more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt in this country alone, per Federal Reserve data, it might be wise to revisit this as the biggest shopping month approaches.

Might I suggest making a list and sticking to the list? I could also remind everyone to use those smartphones to check for lowest prices and compare and then ask for matching prices. When shopping online, make sure the shipping and handling are included before clicking that final purchase button.

Take a minute to pause and ask yourself if you really need whatever caught your attention like a squirrel in the aisle. As for food purchases, we know going to the store hungry adds items to our carts as well as layers to our bodies.

Retailers know all about us and adjust their store’s design and layout to catch our attention and increase sales. End of aisle and showcasing items near the checkout is a sure thing for those of us who didn’t even know we needed them.

I don’t want to spoil all your fun. If paintball gear and electronic vegetable peelers are on your list, by all means bring them home. Or if you are sure that your Aunt Mary will love the heart-shaped egg and pancake pan and your niece will adore the cat hammock, go for it.

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.

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