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

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

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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 appeal to me.
  • 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 on these items at Trader Joe’s.

I don’t happen to have a Trader Joe’s supermarket near my house. Rather, the nearest one is a good 30 minute drive away. This is why I tend to only visit Trader Joe’s once a month — I don’t have the time in my schedule to go grocery shopping that far on a weekly basis.

When I do make a visit to Trader Joe’s, it is often to stock items that I can find only there – things like a specific type of veggie burger and the crackers that I find myself often between meals. And I try to set a budget when I shop at Trader Joe’s so I don’t end up with an excessively large credit card tab.

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But it never fails. Almost every time I stop by Trader Joe’s, I end up making an unplanned purchase. That’s not a problem, though. Actually, it’s something I’m fine with.

When you actually plan for 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, those new products stick around for a long time. Other times, you will find them for a number of 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 picking up 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 work those impulse buys into my grocery budget. What I will do is limit my non-essential grocery shopping from other stores so that I have more room in my budget for “fun food shopping” at stores like Trader Joe’s and Costco (which also sometimes surprise me with new products on her). shelves, especially during the holidays).

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It’s all about enjoying the experience

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

But shopping at Trader Joe’s is a different experience — and one I look forward to every month. That’s why it makes sense for me to cut room in my budget for impulse purchases. The snacks and pantry items I bring home from Trader Joe’s make me happy and, frankly, make it so I don’t have the same old goodies night after night.

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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 some Trader Joe’s almond butter cups, why not?

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