Does the UPS driver know you by name? Do you hide packages from your partner or avoid looking at your credit card statements? If so, it’s probably time to think about changing your patterns and taking control of your online shopping habits.
We’ve all been there, you open your email to see a 20% off promo from your favorite store and go straight to the website to browse. A few minutes later you have a cart full of items that you don’t really need and are maybe only purchasing some of those items to meet the minimum for the promo code to work. Well, it’s time to break the habit and start being more thoughtful when it comes to spending your hard-earned money.
6 Tips to Stop Online Shopping
Tip #1 – Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails
If you know you can’t resist opening those marketing emails luring you to their websites with “New Stuff” and “One-day promo code” you need to unsubscribe today! Companies are very savvy and know exactly what they’re doing to attract repeat customers, so don’t let their tactics work on you.
Take control of your inbox and unsubscribe from all of those annoying emails and then you won’t be tempted every time you check your email to pay bills or work. If you’re worried that you’re going to miss out on some great promo codes send them to your junkmail – that way you’ll have access to them if you NEED them, but they won’t be in your face all the time.
Tip #2 – Delete Shopping Apps
Did you download a shopping app for a one-time promo code or for those “loyalty points” that stores like to give? Well, now you have access to a convenient portal taking you straight to their store. How amazing for them! For you, not so much because you’re much more likely to shop whenever you’re bored and notice that little app staring up at you from your screen.
So grab your phone and delete the apps right now and remove that built-in temptation.
The goal here is to make it a little harder for you to mindlessly browse shops and end up actually shopping. Remember, if you really need to buy something you can always go directly to the website.
Tip #3 – Set a Budget and Plan Your Purchases
If you’re scared to look at your credit card statement each month and know you need to rein in your spending, you should start thinking about setting a budget for yourself. Grab last month’s statement and go over what you spent and reassess, did you go a little overboard at Target last month and end up spending wayyyy to much? Ok well you can’t go back and undo that, but you can make better choices moving forward.
“Setting a budget” can feel so overwhelming and, well, restrictive. I made this free guide to help you feel empowered in your budget-making and how you spend your money.
At the end of the day, a budget should reflect your values and goals. That’s why I like this budget template.
Review your finances and determine how much you have to spend (comfortably) each month on wants or miscellaneous expenses. Once you have that number, think about how to best use that money – should you invest or save some of that?
If you’re already maxing out your investment contributions and have a healthy emergency fund, then you might have more flexibility and can afford to indulge every now and then. However, if you are spending instead of saving and investing, I would encourage you to look at your big-picture goals. Think about the life and future you want for yourself and take the steps to set yourself up for a successful financial future. That means no more living paycheck to paycheck or spending beyond your means.
I have more on how I managed to do this (yes! I used to be terrible with money!) in my free live investing class. You can sign-up here.
Another way to avoid overspending or needlessly spending when online shopping is to plan your purchases. Try to be intentional about the items that you are purchasing, so if you have a wedding coming up in a month – you know you’ll want to buy a dress and maybe an accessory. Now you have those purchases planned and can go online and shop for those items specifically. No need to browse for the sake of browsing (so stop looking at swimsuits, silly).
Planning your purchases will help you avoid impulse buying by keeping you focused on the items that you actually need. With a budget and plan in place, you can efficiently pace your spending and stay on track throughout the month. This means you can be confidently in control of your finances and feel good about your spending.
What’s the fun in spending if you’re going to feel bad about it, right?
Tip #4 – Identify Your Triggers
Do you find that you tend to do more online shopping when you’re having a bad day? Maybe after a difficult conversation with your boss or an argument with your partner you like to decompress by browsing online? It’s important that you start to recognize the things that trigger your behaviors so that you can work on changing them.
Take a few moments to assess when you shop online or take note of it next time you feel the urge to whip out your phone and credit card. You can even try a journaling approach and jot down what you’re feeling when you want to shop online. Try to get as specific as possible with what is causing your behavior. After you’ve determined your triggers you can start to think of more positive ways to cope and begin implementing those new habits into your everyday life.
For example, if you notice that you like to shop online when you’re having your morning coffee, maybe you can try setting up a daily coffee chat with a friend/coworker or listening to an inspirational podcast. Now that you understand your trigger (in this case, boredom or something to do while rebooting your brain) you can find other ways to satisfy that need for comfort, entertainment, or whatever it may be for you.
I highly recommend reading Dopamine Nation to help you better understand what is driving your shopping and how dopamine might be contributing to your shopping impulses (and other parts of your life). The audio version is free with an Audible trial, or see if it’s available at your local library.
Tip #5 – Find other Hobbies
One of the things that helped me change my spending habits was realizing I was spending all my money on things I did not really care about (like Uber rides and overpriced food delivery fees), so I had no money left for things I really cared about (like trying new hobbies or taking trips).
But then I realized I could hack the pattern.
If online shopping has become a hobby for you, you will need to break yourself of that by incorporating new hobbies into your routine. Understanding your triggers (as I explained in the previous section) will give you some insight into your patterns. If you find that online shopping is your go-to activity when you have some free time, try something new like exercising, reading, crafts, or cooking. As best as you can, put these as your first go-to.
Example: before I check my phone, I will take my dog for a ten-minute walk.
Since online shopping is a visual and fun experience, an activity that relies heavily on visuals may be the best alternative. Photography, painting, drawing or even coloring are some great options for you to try. Something creative that will keep you engaged, and, most importantly, turn your attention away from online shopping. Try a few things and see how you like it, it might take a few tries, but there has to be an activity/hobby that you can get into just as much as online shopping so give it a shot.
Tip #6 – Take a Break or Shop In Person Only
Sometimes the best approach is to quit cold turkey! If you’re finding that it’s just too challenging to limit your online shopping or you’re struggling to stick to your budget, try taking a break. Commit to a period of no shopping (obviously you can still get groceries and necessities), but no extras like clothing, home goods, or makeup.
A month of no shopping could be just what you need to jump-start a new healthy habit! By the end of the first month, you might be so impressed with the results that you want to go for another one. This exercise can be tough at first, but just think of all the money you could save or invest! Ultimately, in doing this you will be proving to yourself that you can stop shopping and think more clearly and strategically about how you want to spend your money.
Another approach you can try is sticking to shopping in person only. This will remove A LOT of the daily temptation because you will actually need to drive to a store to shop. It may not seem like a big difference, but you won’t be able to just scroll through pages of items while watching your favorite show on Netflix. This seemingly small change in your behavior could be enough to help you take control of your shopping habit.
Online shopping is undoubtedly one of the most convenient and efficient ways to get just about anything you could want or need within days – sometimes even hours! But, if that convenience has turned into something that is damaging to you and your finances, it’s time to take control of the situation and reassess those spending habits. Whether you want to try deleting those online shopping apps and creating a budget first or jump straight into taking a break from shopping altogether, you now have 6 tips to help you stop online shopping.
Remember, you are in charge of your financial future. How you choose to spend your hard-earned money will determine the freedoms and life you will be living later on and well into retirement. So set yourself up for success and reach for those big goals! You can do it!