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Shopping online has to be one of the best ways to snag a good deal! It makes comparison shopping a snap, there are no lines, and it gives you more selection than most local stores. Online retailers often offer so many great perks for shopping online such as free shipping, percent-off coupons, and online-only sales.
Of course all these great conveniences come at a cost. It just might result in breaking your budget and leaving your bank account crying.
Listen – I have been very upfront about the fact that I have had spending problems in the past. In fact, I consider myself a “recovering spender” right now. So online impulse shopping is an issue close to home.
Why do we overspend online? Two big reasons.
Not sure if you really have an online shopping problem? Here are two problems that might tell you that you are going a little overboard.
Right now, it is harder than ever. So how do we make the most of online shopping without breaking the bank?
1. STOP WINDOW SHOPPING
This is a HARD one, and it's gotten even harder over the past few years. It’s so easy and fun to browse some of your favorite stores' websites. Scoping out the new stuff, scouring the clearance section…we need to stop. You should only be doing online shopping if you have a specific goal. For example: You really need new bathroom towels.
But here's how it has gotten even harder – now your browsing and cart selections history follows you around. Have you ever been on Facebook, and happen to see this creepy post interrupt your newsfeed: a post that says something like “Psst! Don't forget to checkout!” with a picture of EXACTLY the item you were thinking about purchasing? This is called “re-target marketing”. And it works. Online companies can track where you've been on their websites and then target you again when you leave with the exact item that tempted you.
So don't even tempt yourself! Because if you close that browser window, it will follow you!
2. Don’t fall for store ploys
A lot of stores will offer incentives such as free shipping when you spend over a certain amount or “%” off when you spend a minimum amount. Sometimes it will even be a buy two, get one free. These are all ploys to get you to spend more money. Be sure to do the math. Sometimes it’s better to suck up the shipping charge rather than spend even more money trying to meet that requirement. Or just wait until you have that much stuff you need to buy.
When a store tells you something like “you'll get a better deal if you buy this too!”; in reality, it's the store that will be getting the better deal.
3. Set Limits
Set aside a small portion of your budget for online purchases. After all, they are useful and can get you some good deals. If you find yourself unable to stick to the budget, try some stronger measures such as only using money from items you’ve sold or use a debit card from a specific account. Remember, if you choose to avoid credit cards then you may have a much easier time keeping your online spending in check.
One trick I've done is to sell items on eBay, and then leave the money in my Paypal account so it doesn't even touch my bank account. Then I designate that money for gifts or any online deals that might come up for items that I need.
4. Proximity and Timing
Okay, this one might seem sort of silly to some, but it works. One trick is to keep your debit card in a different place than where you are browsing on your computer. Sometimes giving that distance between you and your card can give you the breathing room to THINK about the purchase and decide if it is right for you. Another trick you can try is give yourself an expiration date. If you’re still thinking about that item one week or even two weeks later, it means it’s important. If you can’t remember what you were looking at… well then you probably made the right choice in not buying!
5. Delete your card info
Although many sites require you to re-enter your card info each time, some websites will offer to store your info. Take the time to delete your info or check the box to have it NOT be saved. Remember one of the biggest perks to online shopping is how quick and easy it is.
If you can place just one more barrier in the checkout process, then that gives you one more chance to back out of making an irrational purchase.
6. Don’t read all those emails!
Many companies send out daily or weekly emails with savings, sales, and other information. Delete them or have them set to deliver to a folder that you only look at when you remember. No need to tempt yourself unless you need something!
Above is a little snippet of the “promotions” folder in my inbox. If you have a problem spending online, just don't go there. Unsubscribe, set up rules to delete them – just don't look at them.
I am definitely not saying online shopping is bad! However, I do feel that it is an area where many of us tend to overspend. Following some of these tips should help you become a healthier online shopper. You can still snag your deals without hurting your budget.