6 Hacks to Combat Panic Buying


Have you found yourself out and about “panic buying” lately? Moment of truth: I have. If you’ve tried hitting up the grocery store lately, you’ve seen the chaos! Panic buying is defined as the unplanned purchasing of large quantities of a particular product/commodity due to sudden fears of a shortage or price increase.

The psychology of panic buying is generally summed up as an attempt to take back control in a time when you feel completely out of control (sound familiar?). Panic buying is connected to our fundamental psychological needs to control our circumstances, relate to those around us (or the “everyone’s doing it” mentality) and feel competent about our abilities as consumers. Empty shelves and rising prices can tempt us to stock up but buying what you do not need or what your family will not use actually gives you a false sense of security that you’re a “smart shopper”.

As connected as we are online, it’s easy to see just how empty the supermarket shelves are regardless of whether or not you’ve been there in-person lately. Let’s be clear – there is a distinct difference between disaster preparation and panic buying. I am certainly not suggesting you ignore recommendations to purchase what your family needs. However, irrational stockpiling can make shortages worse and bust your budget over and over, so here are six hacks to combat future panic buying (cause we’re not out of the woods yet…cue Taylor Swift). 

​1. OWN YOUR ANXIETIES. Panic buying is fueled by anxiety. Anxiety is the trigger, panic buying is the response so…own your anxieties! Don’t dismiss them or try to brush by or suppress them. How? Write them down, say them out load, dance them out in your living room, scream at the top of your lungs if you have to. Bless our hearts, we are often quick to suggest to ‘focus on the positive’, on things we can control, express gratitude, etc. If you’re finding that hard to do right now, it may be because you haven’t taken the intentional steps to decrease anxiety: move your body, list things you’re grateful for, get enough sleep, take deep breaths, talk to someone, stream a dance party, by yourself, from your living room, via FB Live because…social distancing, etc. 

2. MAKE A PLAN. Once you’re in the right head space, make a plan. By its very nature, panic buying happens on impulse. Use the same steps you would when planning a 2-week meal plan for your family. Take stock of what you already have. Make a list of what you need and then opt for an online option to order and pick up instead of going into the store. Here’s an example of what a plan may look like: 1) inventory items in you fridge, pantry, cold storage, freezer, medicine cabinet, cleaning closet, pet supply storage etc. 2) list what you would normally pick up during your next shopping trip 3) list what you you would need to replenish soon, but not yet 4) add to your list a couple of extra’s to have on hand of what your family actually needs and uses and then 5) buy what you need and stick to the list. 

3. PURCHASE WHAT YOU NEED. Purchase things you will actually use in a reasonable period of time, and the financial consequences on your pocket book, and the economy, will be less damaging. No need to buy everything off the shelf, just buy what you need now and get one back up of items you use most regularly.   

4. HELP SOMEONE. Service is the best medicine and kindness is still possible even when social distancing. Service helps you get out of your own head and put someone else first and often does not require you to spend anything. 

5. GET TRUSTED UPDATES. Get your updates from trusted websites and news outlets. Think twice before sharing a social media post with a recommendation that’s not from a trusted source, and please, please, please stay alert for requests for donations or emergency supply purchases that come from a source you’ve never before heard of. There are many phony people who will try to dip into your wallet to take advantage of an emergency situation.

6. CONTRIBUTE TO AN EMERGENCY SAVINGS ACCOUNT. Be prepared year-round for possible emergencies by regularly contributing to an emergency savings account. More on that here.


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