You'll Never Guess How Much the Average American Spends Each Month on Impulse Purchases

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Almost everyone makes impulse purchases at some point, and occasional splurges may not be a financial disaster.
  • Americans are spending a shocking amount on impulse buys: $314 per month, up from $276 in 2021. 

Impulse buying is costing us a lot more than most people realize.

Impulse purchases are part of life. Even if you carefully follow a budget and vow to steer clear of credit card debt, chances are you'll pick up an item or two without advance planning at some point over the course of the month.

But while impulse-buying a pack of gum from the grocery check-out line or giving in and buying some fun Costco fall items may not be a financial disaster, these unexpected purchases can become a problem if you're spending too much on them.

A new study showing the amount Americans are spending on impulse purchases is potentially concerning. The study shows the typical person is spending a shocking amount on unplanned items. 

The average American is spending big on impulse buys 

According to a study from Slickdeals, the average person in the U.S. spends a whopping $314 monthly on impulse purchases. This is the monthly spending people are doing in 2022. It reflects an increase from an average of $276 in monthly impulse buys in 2021 and $183 in monthly splurges in 2020.

For many people, these impulse buys occur randomly with no advance planning. The same Slickdeals survey revealed 73% of people indicated most of their purchases were spontaneous. And, in many cases, the random splurge is for a high-priced item. In fact, the most the average person is willing to spend on a single impulse purchase is $310. 

That's a lot of money -- especially when considering that $314 in monthly impulse purchases adds up to a total of $3,768 in unplanned spending every single year. That's all cash that can't be used for other things such as paying down debt, investing for the future, or saving for big purchases.

How does your impulse spending compare?

Now that you know what the average person spends on unplanned purchases each month, the big question you may be asking yourself is how you stack up.

Ideally, you should be able to answer this question. If you can't, that means you aren't tracking where your money goes -- and you could be spending much more on impulse items than you think. 

You should look back at past bank transactions and credit card statements to add up the amount of unplanned splurges you gave into over the course of the month. You may very well find you are spending a whole lot more than you realize because it's so easy to just buy a few things here and there that you didn't budget for. 

Once you've figured out how much you're spending, you can decide if you're comfortable with that amount or if you need to make a change. How your spending compares to the average may be interesting, but it's not as important as considering how your impulse spending looks relative to your income and how it's affecting your goals.

If you find you're spending more than you want, you can make a change by starting to budget and track your spending. This will help ensure you aren't making random purchases that have an adverse financial impact. 

If you aren't sure if your impulse spending amount is too high, then it pays to look carefully at what else you could do with those funds and whether you're getting the most value from them. If you find you'd rather save that cash for big purchases instead of engaging in unplanned spending, you may want to make a change as well.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow