Online shopping doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Even though the majority of shopping is still done in-store, we’re buying things online now more than ever. According to the National Retail Federation, we’re expected to spend almost $1.5 trillion in online shopping this year.
As the pandemic heightened our online shopping habits to new levels, you might want to start being more conscious of your spending. Here’s how to stop online shopping or make it more manageable for your needs and lifestyle.
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1. Watch your stress spending
Instead of spending when you feel stressed, find something else that can make you feel good. This could be a walk, a long bath, a good book, an online yoga or meditation course, or something else that works for you. Stress shopping might make you feel better for now, but in the long run, it can cause you even more stress if it takes you over budget.
2. Give yourself an allowance
Shopping is fun and enjoyable, so there’s no need to deny yourself a little joy. Just set a dedicated budget so you can spend without worrying about it. Having a dedicated budget “helps people from a psychological perspective to make smarter decisions,” says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.com.
Try to set a weekly budget. If you don’t spend it all this week, save it and buy something bigger next week.
3. Establish set shopping times
The urge to scroll through enticing merchandise on our laptops, tablets, and phones is constant. But if we’re never really not shopping when we’re online, then does that mean we’re always shopping?
No need for an existential crisis here. The point is that maybe you should consider limiting yourself to shopping only at certain times or on certain days. For example, maybe it’s Wednesday nights when you have a chance to see what you need for meal-prep over the weekend. Or maybe reward yourself with a shopping sesh on Saturday night. The goal is that you cut down on impulse purchases throughout the week.
4. Only buy sale items
If you really want it and you’ve thought the purchase through, then wait for the item to go on sale. Challenging yourself to buy only sale items can help you save money on the things you really want to buy.
For this, Bodge recommends using a deal site or a browser extension such as couponcabin.com or slickdeals.net that will alert you to sales. “It’s worth taking 30 seconds to look and see if there is a cash back opportunity or a coupon,” she says.
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5. Walk away and re-visit
If you see something you want to buy, take some time to consider it without just adding to your cart immediately. Come back to it the next day, or later in the week. If you can’t stop thinking about it, then that’s a point in the favor of making it yours. If you lose interest, then move on without it.
6. Switch to debit
Spending money that you see immediately leaving your bank account can be a game changer. When we use credit cards, it’s easy to think we’ll “pay later” or that we can buy more than we can really truly afford in the moment. According to Bodge, when you use debit, you’re forced to stop and consider whether or not you have that money in your bank account, and what else you might need it for. Smarter decisions ensue.
7. Every time you buy something, sell or donate something
Do you really need that pair of new shoes? How about that great new shirt? If the answer is yes, then what are you willing to part with? Setting a rule for yourself that your closet must be one-in, one-out, can really make you stop and think before adding new things to your wardrobe. Also, if you’re able to sell some unwanted items, you can get the dual benefit of being able to recoup some money for new wardrobe pieces. It can be a tough decision, but it can also be a win-win.
8. Consider your new reality
The world has drastically changed for most of us in terms of how we work, how we school, how we travel, and the type of things we really need day-to-day. In other words, do you even think you’ll need a new blazer for another year? Or two?
If you’re heading back into the office, it’s normal to consciously shop for new items that fit this new reality. But if you don’t think you’ll need it anytime soon, think about how having that item will impact your budget.
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