Tips You Need to Manage Your Online Shopping

Seeing the Sale Ads – this can be a HUGE problem for most shoppers.  I have the soul of a magpie and when I see the shiny new thing, I can’t help but want it.  You probably do too.  Then when we go to the site, there’s even MORE shiny new temptations.  And before you know it, there’s a big box headed your way and a big ding on your credit card.

Solution: Focus on what you can control – because there’s a lot you can do about it.  Immediately unsubscribe from ALL shopping Emails.  No, seriously – ALL of them.  They are a huge daily temptation you don’t need. Fast-forward through commercials on TV.  Sing along with the radio so you don’t notice the billboards or imagine that cute clothing model with a big bushy mustache!  Stop taking the newspaper, or if you can’t do that, ask your husband or someone to strip out the ads and dump them.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy – This one is a little bit harder.  We all know people who have nicer things than we have.  And it’s just human nature to get a little envious sometimes.  I think we’ve all envied someone’s new car, or pretty outfit, or fancy kitchen gadgets.  It’s not a great feeling and it does make us unsatisfied with the things we DO have.

Solution:  Part of the solution is to count your blessings.  Look around and value the nice things you DO have.  But another idea to look at it in hard dollars and cents.  Let’s say your friend has a $200 Kitchenaide Mixer in a gorgeous red color.  You want one too – but think about that figure.  If you earn $10 an hour, that’s 20 hours worth of work.  That might be your grocery budget for the week, or your car payment.  How long would it take you to save up $200?  All of a sudden, you don’t want that mixer quite as badly, and if you do, you can always start saving up for it.

It’s like when you see those women who are really skinny.  You get jealous about it, but then you think about all the hours they spend in the gym to get that way.  That’s when I find I’m OK with a few extra pounds…

Tip #2 – Only Spend REAL Money Online

This one has helped me a LOT.  Part of the lure of online shopping is the credit card.  It feels FREE – until you get the bill!  So you have no natural sense of how much money you are spending.

I do most of my only shopping on Amazon, so I set up an Amazon Prime card (that gives me a 5% rebate!).  It has a ridiculous 26% interest rate, so there is NO WAY I am going to carry a balance on that baby.

So every time I make a purchase, I go straight to my banking app and set up a payment to that card to cover what I spent.  That makes it seem very real, very quickly.  It does take a little discipline, but if you’re serious about getting this under control, you’ve got to put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

Tip #3 – Enlist a Coach

We are talking about an addiction here.  It is very easy to get addicted to that little emotional “high” you get when you make a new purchase.  So, let’s treat it like an addition.  Alcoholics and drug users have support groups and sponsors.  I think it’s perfectly reasonable to enlist someone you trust to help you.  Could be a friend, someone from church, a relative, even an online group.

The important thing is that you have to choose someone who will genuinely hold you accountable.  The worst thing to do is if you would call someone and tell her you’ve put a new purse (that you don’t need) in your online shopping cart, and she asks you what style and color it is!  That’s an accomplice, not a coach.  Maybe pair up with a friend who is working on her own shopping issues.

Tip # 4 – Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

I’m can’t remember where I learned this technique, but it’s been a very helpful one for me.  You can create a virtual fence around things you need to stay away from.

For instance, did you know if you put the potato chips at the back of your lowest cupboard, you are unlikely to get down on your knees to get to them?  When I find myself checking my phone too much at work, I build a fence.  I have a little .99 cent plastic pencil box and sometimes the phone has to go there for a time out.  It’s surprisingly helpful.  I will even put a post-it-note on my computer sometimes – “Adrian is not allowed to be on this computer until 6 PM”.  It’s silly stuff, but it WORKS!

How can you build some virtual fences for your online shopping?  Removing the shopping apps from your phone is a good start.  Maybe you could blacklist your favorite sites with your virus checker?  I have a great post called “Teach Your Bank to YELL at You“.  You set up automated alerts to go to yourself, your coach, or even your husband when a purchase is made.  I hate to say it, but I have one of those on my husband.  He thinks credit cards are free money, so I get an Email every time he uses our credit card.

If money is tight, I will stay AWAY from the stores, even if I have to give my husband a list and send him.  I know if I go in to get a tube of toothpaste, I will be coming out with at least $50 of stuff.  Although sometimes I will outwit myself by only bringing cash into the store.  That’s a strong fence!

I hope these tips have helped you.  If you have additional tips that are working for you, I’d love it if you’d leave them in the comments.  It’s a tough thing to beat, so we all have to stick together!




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