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Brick and mortar stores, compared to their online counterparts, have never been known to offer their customers lucrative, mouthwatering deals. That’s why most people prefer doing their shopping on the online platform instead.
As good as their deals may be, online stores pave the way for a habit that a considerable huge portion of people is addicted to – impulse buying.
Impulse buying is the last-minute buying of stuff outside your budget. These are usually things that you come across when window shopping. What makes this habit even juicier is the vast array of options to choose from and their seemingly affordable prices.
Most of the time, a massive chunk of our impulse purchases is not of any use to us.
As long as it’s in stock, you wouldn’t mind spending ‘a few’ bucks to teleport those precious commodities from your laptop’s display directly into your home.
In the short term, giving in to impulse buying takes a toll on your wallet and leaves your bank account void of any cash.
Even worse, in the long term, you’ll find it extremely difficult to develop commendable financial habits that may save you tonnes of cash.
Impulse buying can be pretty addictive – no matter how frugal you are. Now for the million-dollar question: How can you stop impulse buying online?
Quitting impulse buying can be pretty hard – that’s a fact. By implementing these simple tips, you to draw the line between your ‘wants’ versus your ‘needs.’ Let’s dive right to it, shall we?
1. Find Satisfaction in What You Already Have
Compulsive shoppers stock their closet with clothes, kitchen with more than enough food, garage with gadgets, and so on. Rather than adding more and more stuff into your shopping cart, it’s time you reevaluated the things you already have.
The key to being content with your belongings lies in a simple task known as ‘accepting what you have.’ Doing this will not only give you a sense of contentment but also enable you to buy fewer, higher-quality items.
An alternative strategy is to put all your belongings together, so it’s easy to know what you have – this can be fun too.
Marie Kondo offers unique techniques to go about organizing your clothes, shoes, etc. through her best-selling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering’ and one other.
At the end of it all, it will hit you hard that you’re only filling up your shelves and closet(s) with stuff you already have in abundance. The thought of clicking on that ‘Add to Cart’ button will be the last thing on your mind at this point.
2. Spend Less Time on Online Shopping Websites
No doubt that this is the last thing you want to do – especially since you’ve been doing this for the past couple of years. Most of us have made it a habit to shop online, and it’s perfectly understandable.
Having to view random affordable stuff at your favorite online store can be fun.
The downside of window shopping is that you’re more likely to spend a better part of your time on one site doing the same thing for hours on end. On top of that, you’re prone to buy one, two or more items that catch your eye.
Window shopping should only be done if you have something specific that you need, not want. If you need a new laptop, for instance, go to the laptops section only. Don’t wander off to the clothes/shoe section for any reason whatsoever.
Just so you know, there’s a strategy known as ‘re-target marketing’. Online companies can track your recently viewed items and send enticing pop-ups that you can’t resist checking out.
Therefore, the more stuff you check out on your favorite online store, the more irresistible deals you’ll be targeted with. Be careful not to immerse yourself deeper into a mistake that you’re less likely to recover from – which leads us to the next point.
3. Don’t Fall Prey to Seemingly Good Deals
Most online stores offer incentives like a certain percentage off or ‘free shipping’ once you exceed a certain amount. Every so often, it will be a ‘buy two, get one free’ kind of deal. These are all schemes that are out to get you to empty your wallet to their benefit.
When you find a store that says something like ‘get a better deal by buying this as well’; in the real sense, they’re the ones getting the better deal. While you think you got the deal of a lifetime, you obliviously gave your hard-earned money away.
‘When the deal is too good, think twice’ – unfortunately most of us go for the deal without putting a morsel of thought into it. Ignoring incentives is a sure way to avoid impulse buying.
Though marketers are keen on emptying your pockets to the last dime, there are a couple of things you can do to counter their devious schemes:
- Compare prices at price comparison web sites
- Well before you step into the store, have your to-buy list at hand
- Do some digging on the items on your list a week prior to your visit to the store
- Download a few helpful price comparison tools. Make use of Google Product Search, which is a widely used mobile shopping interface
- Always be on the lookout for deals that are just too good to be true.
Do the math before you end up hating yourself later. Occasionally, it’s better to spend on shipping rather than spend heftily on meeting the stated requirement.
If the latter is something you feel you must do, then go about it once you have many items on your cart.
4. Set Some Boundaries
Everything in life – well, most things for that matter- must have limits. Online shopping is one of them. When going about your shopping ventures, be sure to set aside a significant portion of your budget specifically for online purchases.
Impulse buyers tend to buy anything and everything that has a reasonable price tag.
One trick you can put into action is to sell stuff on eBay, then leave the money in your PayPal account. Don’t be in a rush to withdraw your funds into your bank account. Designate your PayPal money for gifts and good online deals for items you may need.
If you know very well that you’ll stray from your budget at some point, set stricter boundaries. For example, try as much as possible to use debit card money from an alternative account, other than the one you usually use, or cash from items you’ve sold.
Keep in mind that if you choose to keep off your credit cards, you’ll have a smoother online shopping experience. You’ll have little to worry about as your online spending will be kept in check.
It may seem confusing at first but as you get used to it, keeping your money as far away from you as possible won’t be so much of a punishment as you think it is.
5. Rid Your Inbox of Daily/Weekly Shopping Newsletters
If you shop online now and then, your inbox is bound to be flooded with either daily or weekly emails from various shopping companies. Emails like these often contain some of the best deals, sales, and other ‘important’ stuff.
You may or may not know this, but impulse buying is triggered by emails of this nature – more so if you’re a sucker for getting value for your money.
It won’t cost you a cent to free yourself from daily/weekly temptations that come to you in form of emails. Simply subscribe from all shopping-related newsletters. That’s it.
The less you know about a particular sale, the less inclined you’ll feel to buy something on impulse. Don’t let a money-hungry online company dictate where and how to channel the funds in your account. Unless you really need something, visit the site at your own will.
Don’t be a slave to your email newsletters. Do the right thing and delete every shopping email from the ‘promotions’ folder in your inbox. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.
6. Challenge Yourself to Buy Nothing Online for Some Time
The primary purpose for this challenge is to limit impulse buying for a period of your choosing. “Can I really do this?’’ Of course, you can.’
The following are a few useful ways to tame your spending habits:
- Buy home essentials (insurance, utilities, housing, and groceries) for a full month.
- Stay for 24hrs or more without purchasing anything more than a certain amount of your choosing.
- Rather than ordering online meals, cook your own food at home.
- Don’t buy new clothes, shoes, etc., for 2 months.
To make this challenge more competitive, make it fun; turn it into a game of sorts. Tag a friend who’s also prone to impulse purchasing and see who lasts the longest without buying anything online.
In the course of the challenge, it will be easier to determine certain spending triggers. If doing away with online spending may prove to be a little intense, pick out different spending triggers and focus on doing away with them instead.
You can spend on other areas that you’re sure won’t become a financial headache later on.
7. Get into the Habit of Budgeting
Impulse buying mostly comes as a result of poor budgeting. When you create a budget every so often, you reduce your chances of overspending while shopping online.
Turning a blind eye to an object of desire can be very difficult – especially if it’s a limited offer. Rather than going on a splurging spree, there is a better way of going about this kind of situation. It’s called budgeting.
Draft your budget in such a way that you set a proportionate amount of money that you can spend on random goods for a week or a month. From the amount you set aside, ensure you have something to spare – for emergencies’ sake.
Setting aside money specifically for impulse buying may seem like you’re planning to spend irresponsibly, but you’re actually teaching yourself two essential skills: budgeting and limiting your spending habits.
When you’ve completed a week without going beyond your spending limit, reward yourself by purchasing one item you’ve been longing to have. Considering you’re treating yourself, you have the unique opportunity to reverse your decision and do without it or do some extra research prior to your purchase.
8. Delete Your Credit Card Number from All Your Shopping Sites
Unless you’ve set aside some cash for impulse purchases, your credit card number should not appear in any of your frequented shopping sites. If you have some money in your card, the last thing you want to do is squander it all on useless stuff.
Also, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes along with having money in your card. The need to buy anything and everything intensifies the more time you spend on a particular shopping site.
At this point, spending impulsively on whichever good item that comes your way is beyond your control.
By erasing your credit card info from your favorite online stores, you’re countering impulse buying by giving a second thought to your potential purchase. With your credit card info out of the way, you’ll be questioning yourself more often before making irrational decisions.
“What’s the point of having to buy stuff online if you don’t have a credit card number?”; buying stuff is not the problem here. The problem is keeping your money intact. By now, it should be clear as day that loaded credit cards only fuel your need to buy on impulse.
Eliminating your card info from the equation will make your online shopping less extravagant as you won’t have to spend knowing you have some cash stashed up somewhere.
9. Why Not Use Cash Instead?
No doubt, credit cards are far more convenient and provide numerous benefits including cash/point rewards, signup bonuses, as well as purchase protection.
On the down side, credit cards can be very harmful financially when it comes to carrying out online transactions.
Save for the significantly high-interest rates, credit cards make it too easy to spend more and more money. Providing your preferred online store with your credit card info makes letting go of your hard-earned cash seem like a very simple task.
Studies have shown that by shopping using credit, we spend extravagantly more instead of cash. Most shoppers are willing to pay a whopping thirty percent more for a single item if they are charging it on credit.
When having the cash at hand, it will irk you even more how much you’re quite literally throwing away. $100 for example, is no big deal when it appears on your phone/computer’s display. You’ll think twice about spending that same amount when holding the same amount in your hand
What’s more, you’ll feel less guilty once you spend real cash, considering you’ll be more frugal with it, as compared to electric money. The good thing is, most online shopping sites offer the money-saving cash-on-delivery option in addition to online payment.
As much as possible, try paying for items the old-fashioned way. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll be able to save and how much self-control you can practice.
10. Save the Item and Do Some Research on It
Saving stuff before buying them will be a less-daunting task if you adhere to the previous point. When you see something for the first time and how affordable it is, carry out due diligence first.
Most impulse buyers buy a lot of items online, only for them to be content with only one or two stuff they ordered. Researching one item thoroughly will save you the regret later on, as well as limit the number of things you buy online.
Visit alternative stores and find similar items to the one you’ve saved. Compare the prices from different sites (about five or so) and the reviews that people leave after using the item.
If it has left a bad impression on more than half of the users, there’s no way it will leave a good impression on you. Go ahead and examine all its pros and cons as well as any other essential stuff that may influence your final decision in one way or another.
In other words, become a self-certified expert on the product you wish to buy. Be sure, however, not to work yourself too hard.
If you find yourself still doing some extra digging even after you’ve done some serious research, then it’s probably worth a buy.
Settle for More Expensive Items Instead
At first, this point may seem a little contradictory, considering it doesn’t go hand in hand with the previous point. In actual sense, you’re saving more money by spending more money.
To expound on this point, expensive purchases, e.g. a couch, TV, etc, are less involving when it comes to spending and planning. Cheap purchases, more often than not, are made with little to no thought at all.
As you can easily afford most of the low-priced items, having only one item in your cart is not enough. What about one with more than one zero on its price tag?
Unless you really need it, you won’t think twice about buying it. Assuming the product itself is worth the price tag, there’s no doubt that it’s indeed value for your money.
It’s better to buy one expensive item at a hefty price than multiple affordable items that add up to an even heftier price. As mentioned earlier, only spend a good portion of your cash on pricey stuff unless you REALLY need it.
It would totally be uncalled for if you decide to buy two or three five-figured items just for fun. Here’s where you’ll need to limit your spending to an item that is sure to last a long time and caters for your intended needs.
12. Acknowledge the Fact That Impulse Buying is All in the Mind
Most times after receiving all the stuff you ordered online, you may sit back and marvel in disbelief at what an unsteady mind is capable of. We’ve all been there at some point in our shopping lives. It doesn’t always have to come to that.
By being in control of your mind, you’ll never have to break the bank with outrageous purchases. Your mind holds the key to your slow but sure freedom from impulse buying. Your mind can be quite dictatorial once it’s provided with a gazillion deals to choose from.
The mere act of logging in to your online store account is enough to trigger your mind to drift away from what you initially planned to buy.
Each time you wish to buy something, think twice, think hard, and determine whether or not you’re fit to expose your mind to the full range of irresistible deals.
Chances of impulse buying are heightened when you’re either ecstatic (maybe you’ve gotten a raise) or depressed (you’re going through a rough patch in your life).
Shopping online with a clear mind, in the long run, will turn out to be beneficial in all aspects of your life in the long run.
Enjoy an Impulse-Free Shopping Experience
Treating ourselves to costly luxuries on a frequent basis may take a toll on our financial lives in the long. By following the simple tips above, you’re basically teaching yourself to say no to yourself – as difficult as it may be.
It doesn’t matter what the latest trends are or what you need to be having at the moment. Rather than worrying about how much you’re missing out on, you should worry about going broke as a result of your extravagant expenditures.
It’s important to have clear goals in mind at all times. What would you like to do with your life? Do you have financial goals that you’re working hard to meet, in the long and medium term? Always remember Keep your savings goals, and find out how a purchase will affect your goal.
In a nutshell, breaking free from impulse buying can be achieved by taking control of your mind, your shopping habits and most of all, your finances. That’s not so hard to do, now is it?