We’ve all felt the temptation to buy something that we don’t need online. Of course, it’s great that the Internet never closes like a brick-and-mortar store, which gives us the convenience of buying nearly anything we want whenever we want. But it can be difficult to resist purchasing clothes, fashion, and other items when every product in the world is right at our fingertips.
Having said that, there are some straightforward ways to avoid splurging. Here are seven tips to help you spend smarter and stay within your budget when shopping online.
1. Write out your budget, and know what limits you want to set
Budgeting can help to get a clear picture of where you are financially. If you have a budget, look at it often and keep track of how much you spend online shopping each month. Examine your bank and credit card statements in case you forget about payments such as app purchases or subscription fees.
Closely examining your budget might make you consider getting a shared Family Plan for Apple Music, for example, or picking just one television or music streaming service if you are subscribed to several.
2. Unsubscribe from sales alerts and newsletters
Are you tempted by “sale” notifications in your inbox? To stop receiving them, scroll down to the bottom of one of these emails and click “Unsubscribe.” While you won’t be able to keep track of sales at your favorite stores, you’ll have more money in your checking account as a result. It’s a good trade-off.
Keep in mind that although unsubscribing might make you feel like you’re missing out, retailers tend to have sales year-round in order to create a sense of urgency. Remember, it’s all a game of psychology.
3. Shop without buying
It’s a simple strategy, but an effective one. The next time you visit your favorite online store and add items to your cart, don’t check out; instead, add the items to a wish list.
The simple act of putting items in your cart may be all you need satisfy that online shopping urge and browsing for the items you want can be an enjoyable experience in and of itself.
4. Make yourself wait before buying
Give yourself a mandatory waiting period before buying anything online. Write down the product you want and pick a period of time – try 24 hours or longer – and give yourself some time to think about whether you really want (or need) it. It’s not unlikely that you will have changed your mind as soon as that time is up.
5. Think about the best use of your money
To put a halt to your online shopping habit, a helpful tip is to think about a long-term goal you have, something that gets you really excited. Is it a vacation you’d like to take? Would you like to own a home one day? Do you want to save for your child’s college fund, save up for your own education, start a business, or donate to charity?
Look at your credit card statements from the past few months or use a service like Mint to track your spending. Then, put aside a majority percentage of that money to a special savings account every month; the rest you can use on “fun stuff.”
6. Remove your credit card autofill
Go into your browser settings and remove all automatically saved credit cards. The best part of this strategy is that when you want to make a purchase, you’ll have to go to your wallet or purse and go through the hassle of getting your credit card. You’ll be forced to think about the purchase you want to make before you make it, and maybe you’ll even decide that it wasn’t necessary in the first place.
7. Block retail websites
Apps such as Freedom, LeechBlock (for Firefox), Block Site and StayFocused (for Google Chrome) can block the sites you find yourself constantly compelled to visit
In conclusion, yes, 24/7 access to online shopping can be a challenge when you’re trying to reduce debt or save money. But blocking websites, removing credit card autofill, and taking more time to think before you buy can all help minimize bad habits. Indulgence is perfectly fine, but it’s important to keep it in moderation.