With a smart phone in your pocket, it’s never been easier spend your hard-earned money online. A recent study suggests that over 17% of all retail sales in the United Kingdom took place on the internet in February 2019.1 While this number may not surprise you, online shopping is relatively new, and the trend is still gradually increasing over time.
How does this affect your wallet? Marketers are constantly looking to capitalize on the convenience factor, and it can be downright addicting to shop online. In fact, research suggests that dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward, like watching your package tracking through the post, rather than actually receiving the reward.2 From convenience to a desire to chase that good feeling, it can reasonably be more addictive to shop online than to physically head out to stores.
You can stave off the desire to mindlessly shop by making a few conscious choices. Read on for six expert tips on how to curb online shopping.
Unsubscribe from Email Lists
Your favourite stores will be there the next time you actually need to buy something — in the meantime, unsubscribe from any and all marketing emails. The purpose of these communications is to lure you in to spend money, and companies have gotten good at creating a false sense of urgency. Do yourself a favour and remove the temptation; unsubscribe from any marketing email list right now.
Just Add Things to Your Cart
Online shopping can give you a rush, but you don’t actually have to purchase those items to feel rewarded. If you see something you like, feel free to add it to your cart, but stop there without making a purchase. Leave the page and move on to something else.
Clear Your Browser Information
Similarly, if you store your credit card or payment information on any browsers or websites, delete this data as well. Making a transaction less convenient, even if that means forcing yourself to get up and find your credit card, can help you save money over time. Just try not to memorize your card information.
Block (or Create an Aversion to Visiting) Tempting Sites
Like employers that block time-wasting sites on work computers, removing the ability to visit your favourite retailer can also help you limit online shopping. However, be careful not to simply binge and overspend if you do happen to visit a site that’s tempting for you.
Altering your behaviour can help you be more conscious of your online shopping activity. You might not even realize that you could be shopping simply because you’re bored. Whenever you get the urge to navigate to retail, look for an alternative site that provides instant gratification without spending money, such as viewing a cute cat video on YouTube. You might soon find yourself less likely to kill time just by browsing merchandise online.
Wait and Forget
If you’re dead-set on making a purchase, you should still try to table it for a few days. Waiting to make a purchase by a few days can help you forget about the item, or show that you really do need it.
Set Savings Goals
What is online shopping preventing you from accomplishing? Would you rather use those funds for a vacation with the family? Or is your ultimate objective paying off all of your debt? Whatever your stretch goal is, remind yourself that you’re saving for something that’ll do more for your happiness than buying those new shoes.
If you find that you’re not as successful with some of these methods, don’t just give up. It can be difficult to alter your behaviour, but once you start seeing progress, the practise will be much easier to keep up.
1Office for National Statistics. (21 March 2019). Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales (ratio) (%). Retrieved 2 April 2019, from https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/j4mc/drsi
2Weinschenk, S., Ph.D. (22 October 2015). Shopping, dopamine, and anticipation. Retrieved 2 April 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201510/shopping-dopamine-and-anticipation