With online sites like Amazon, it’s easier than ever to browse through hundreds of items and make a purchase with just the push of a button. Given the ability to shop online, from the comfort of your couch, and then receive a package right at your front door, it’s hard not to get hooked.
This can lead to gratuitous spending, which is why it’s important to rein in unnecessary online shopping. These seven tips will help you learn how to control spending online.
1. Unsubscribe from marketing emails
One of the biggest temptations for online shopping is special promotions, timely discounts, and other “scarcity” promotions companies use in their daily marketing emails. It’s hard to open an email with an awesome deal or limited-time-only sale and not be tempted to buy something.
Do yourself a favor: Take a few minutes to go through your email inbox and hit the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of retailer promo emails. Better yet, use a free service like Unroll.me to unsubscribe from multiple emails at once.
2. Don’t save your checkout information
Convenience is a big factor when it comes to online shopping, but one way you can help curb this is by not saving credit card and shipping information on websites. Instead of saving your personal info at checkout, opt to input everything manually each time.
With this method, purchasing items takes longer — and that’s the point. A faster checkout is more appealing than having to input your payment and shipping information in over and over. Those few extra minutes can help you think twice about whether or not you really need to purchase these items.
3. Delete mobile shopping apps
Nearly all retailers have a mobile shopping app that allows you to surf their site, add items to your cart, and quickly check out. It’s all too easy to pull up the Amazon or Etsy apps and surf through the daily deals while you’re waiting in the line at the grocery store or before you’ve even gotten out of bed in the morning.
Prevent overspending by deleting these apps from your mobile phone. Take away the temptation by making it more difficult to surf products and add items to your cart simply because you’re bored.
4. Use preventative measures
If you have a hard time limiting the amount of time spent online shopping, put preventative measures in place to help you learn how to control spending.
Download a free tool like StayFocusd, a browser extension that limits the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites. Make a list of the retail sites you visit most often and set a time limit of 10 to 15 minutes.
Putting a preventative measure like this in place will give you just enough time to purchase what you need without being tempted to overspend by added browsing time.
5. Keep a wish list instead of checking out
Utilize a site’s wish list feature whenever possible. Part of the allure of online shopping is being able to browse items that you hope to own soon. Instead of adding these items directly into your cart, opt to save them for later by creating a wish list.
You may also want to add a universal wish list that you and your family can add items to and then prioritize which ones get purchased, based on seasonal promotions or timely discounts.
Give yourself the challenge of waiting at least 24 hours to see if you still need or want the item before hitting the buy button. Is it still as good of a deal as you thought it was yesterday? Enforcing a mandatory waiting period will help ensure you actually need to make the purchase.
6. Use preloaded gift cards to budget
If you take action on all the above steps and still find your online shopping habit uncontrollable, consider using preloaded gift cards as payment when checking out online.
Use a reloadable MasterCard or Visa gift card as a way of limiting your online shopping by forcing yourself to stick to a budget. Whatever amount is preloaded onto the card is all you have to spend that month. Once the money’s used up, you’ll have to put off unnecessary purchases until next month.
7. Commit to researching first
Sometimes, online shopping really is a necessity. Next time you need to make an online purchase for an essential item, commit to doing a bit of research before hitting the buy button.
Take time to read through customer reviews or search for comparable products at a better price. Use comparison sites like Google Shopping to verify a product’s rating and find out if there’s a better price available.
Alternatively, a browser extension like Honey can automatically search for and apply coupon codes to the site you’re shopping on. This can save you money for items you need to buy, but be careful how you use these types of services.
You could be tempted to buy more than you need if you think you’re getting a great deal, so use with caution and make sure your purchases are needs (and not simply wants).
How to control spending online
When learning how to stop overspending on online shopping, try implementing any or all of these tips.
Remember to be patient with yourself, as it may take some time to form a new habit. In the end, it will be worth it — you’ll enjoy saving more money as you work towards other important financial goals.
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