5 Easy Ways To SAFELY Shop Online (Without Going Broke)

In the fourth installment of our series on Staying on Track and Avoiding Temptation, Marisa Torrieri Bloom discusses how to use the Internet to safely shop online without getting carried away. If you missed the first article in this series, you can find it here.

When you’re inundated with material temptations, there’s something inspiring about the idea of living a super-frugal life—a life that’s free of seductive social media ads and email blasts for automobiles, perfume and kitchenware.

But that’s easier said than done, because for many of us, shopping online is a massive timesaver. Ordering essentials like shampoo, paper towels or purchasing early holiday gifts for a discount can save hours of hassle.

That’s part of the reason why, in the US alone, roughly 8 in 10 Americans are online shoppers. A study published in December 2016 found that 79% of individuals have made an online purchase of any type, 51% bought something using a cell phone and 15% have made purchases by following a link from a social media site.

And there are many reasons beyond time savings that make a strong case for shopping online. Among them, we have:

  • more choices and better selections;
  • better prices (on some items);
  • access to ratings and reviews;
  • access to video demos; and
  • the chance to browse for items we desperately long for.

All sounds reasonable, right? That last reason, however, can be problematic. Shopping online is linked with making impulsive decisions that can set you back thousands of dollars. When you’re inundated with ads from your favorite retailer (the networks always know which one!) or in a hurry, the likelihood you’ll derail your progress toward Financial Freedom grows stronger.

So how do you balance the need for convenience with the need for smart, well-thought-out financial decisions?

In a nutshell: by treading very carefully when you go online to buy.

Protecting Your Wallet In Cyberspace


If you’re unwilling or simply not ready to give up online shopping, in spite of the temptations it brings to overspend, making tiny tweaks to your online shopping behaviors can help. Try these five ideas to get sane before you click the “buy” button:

  1. Make a list and pause. Planning ahead, from traveling to seeing a doctor, helps you do everything with less stress. So before you go online to fetch just a few things, take five minutes to ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you almost out of toilet paper, laundry detergent and bottled water but don’t have time in your schedule to go to the grocery store? Or, are you anticipating a heavy work week and don’t want to be caught without those essentials? Or do you really want to look at the new Apple Watch? Writing a list of what you need helps you avoid unexpected temptations (and serves as a reminder that you need to save a little cash before splurging on a fancy piece of electronics).
  2. Set a timer. Have you ever found yourself perusing a social media site or online retailer only to realize 40 minutes has gone by? Yeah, it happens to the best of us! (I’ve been known to spend an hour online after I put my young children to bed, because I’m too tired to do anything else.) A better idea? Allowing yourself 20 minutes a day to surf the Internet and look at whatever you want—but setting limits for how long you can browse. Set a timer, and you won’t get too sucked into Amazon before there’s a gentle reminder your life is waiting for you offline.
  3. Remind yourself of long-term goals. If you’ve been through Financially Fit Bootcamp, you’ve set up your Perfect Account Structure and Automation. So you already have a fixed weekly income for everyday purchases. Knowing one online spending splurge might derail your Financial Freedom may be enough to curb your shopping enthusiasm.
  4. Vow not to click on ads—without exception. Ads for your favorite retailers abound every time you open your laptop. But if you can repeat the mantra, “I will not click” a few times, that may help you avoid doing just that. For many of us, the first peek leads to a downward spiral into binge spending.
  5. Re-employ the ‘wait three days’ rule for nonessentials. So you’ve convinced yourself you absolutely need a $200 ceramic pot to cook winter stews (even though a $50 crock pot would do). Before you click the “buy” button, wait. Yes, even if said Dutch Oven is on sale (unless it’s a 90% off sale). Remember sales pop up all the time, so there will most certainly be another opportunity to purchase your coveted item. And by waiting a few days, you have more time to consider whether you actually want to spend your hard-earned cash.

Keep these guidelines in mind will help you enjoy your online shopping experience while getting what you need at the push of a button.

You can catch the second and third articles in the series here and here.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.

image credit: Bigstock/Oneinchpunch


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There is 1 comment

  • Vikki on September 28, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    love these idea’s – especially linking buying to your long term goals

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