Finance

Why I Allow Myself to Impulse Buy Every Time I Shop at Trader Joe’s

A mom carrying her baby as her daughter walks past her through the produce section of a grocery store.

Image source: Getty Images

It’s a practice I’m more than okay with.


Key points

  • Shopping at Trader Joe’s often means I come across new items that I like.
  • I tend to make a lot of unplanned purchases at Trader Joe’s, but those purchases aren’t as unplanned as you might think.
  • By limiting my impulse buys at other stores, I technically plan to spend more for these items at Trader Joe’s.

I don’t happen to have a Trader Joe’s supermarket close to my house. More precisely, the nearest one is a good 30 minutes’ drive away. Because of this, I usually only visit Trader Joe’s once a month – I don’t have time in my schedule to go grocery shopping that far on a weekly basis.

When I do visit Trader Joe’s, I often get things I can only find there — things like a certain type of veggie burger and crackers that I often snack on between meals. And I try to budget when I shop at Trader Joe’s so I don’t end up with over-the-top credit card bills.

But it never works. Almost every time I set foot in Trader Joe’s, I end up making an unplanned purchase. That’s not a problem though. In fact, it’s something I’m fine with.

When you actually plan the unplanned

One of the great things about Trader Joe’s is that it tends to introduce new products on a rotating or seasonal basis. Sometimes these new products stick around for the long haul. Other times, you’ll find them for a few weeks before they disappear from the shelves for the rest of the year or, in some cases, forever.

But either way, since Trader Joe’s is constantly unveiling new items, I often find myself collecting products I didn’t know existed. Only those purchases don’t put me in a financial bind because I actually plan for them.

I know very well that I will be tempted to try new products at Trader Joe’s. So I put those impulse buys into my grocery budget. What I will do is limit my non-essential grocery shopping at other stores so I have more room in my budget for “fun food shopping” at stores like Trader Joe’s and Costco (which also sometimes surprises me with new products at their shelves, especially during holidays).

It’s all about enjoying the experience

Shopping at my main supermarket isn’t all that fun. I usually run in, grab a bunch of essentials and get out. And while my Costco runs tend to be more fun (because of the “what’s they bringing in this week?” factor), even those can get a little monotonous, since I mostly stick to the same list of milk, fruits, and vegetables.

But shopping at Trader Joe’s is a different experience – and I look forward to it every month. So it makes sense to set aside room in my budget for impulse purchases. The snacks and pantry items I bring home from Trader Joe’s make me happy and, frankly, keep me from eating the same old goodies night after night.

Granted, I’m not the type of person to complain about eating peanut butter cups 46 nights in a row. But if I can mix things up with almond butter cups, why not?

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