Regardless of the world's political, economic, or health status, nothing stops the continued move forward towards increased e-commerce and the onslaught of online shopping. If the ability exists to use a digital device and plastic or bank transfer payment, everyone wants and needs to buy what they want and need now and get it faster and cheaper now. And with the ease and convenience of online shopping comes the risk of overspending.
- This year, e-commerce retail sales worldwide will reach nearly $5 trillion.
- The U.S. consumers spent nearly $602 billion online in 2019, an increase of nearly 15% over 2018's spending.
- In less than 20 years, nearly all shopping will be assisted by e-commerce in some fashion.
- More than half of Americans prefer online shopping to traditional retail stores.
And among the online shopping statistics, there's cause for concern if you're a shopper without limits:
- Nearly all online shopping purchases are made subconsciously, based on feelings but without rational and logical thought as to the need or value of the item.
There's a lot of buying and likely a lot of buyer's remorse after the "Enter" key is pressed. How do you shop with a conscience and fulfill your needs while avoiding the credit card crash and overspending?
10 tips to tone down your online shopping and overspending habit
Is it need, entertainment, or addiction?
To avoid overspending, analyze your online habits. If you feel guilty about shopping online, use a credit card your spouse doesn't know about, have packages shipped elsewhere, hide your purchases, and buy just because it's "such a deal," you're possibly addicted to shopping and need help to break the habit. If retail therapy is a constant form of entertainment, add books, magazines, and videos to your device to view, instead of retail websites.
How much time are you spending e-window shopping?
When you start your day browsing the stores and the next thing you know, it's dinner time, the loss of time also means a loss of productivity and personal interaction with others. Apps like RescueTime track time spent and show you the real cost of your shopping habit against the clock. Use a stopwatch, egg timer or alarm clock for shopping and when the alarm sounds, you're done for the day.
Start a personal "block the shops" campaign
Remove those websites you don't need, provoke excessive spending or send too much junk mail and block their ads and emails. Apps such as Leechblock and StayFocused allow you to block specific websites for certain periods or even permanently.
Don't save credit card info online
Go through the shopping sites and remove your credit card information. This not only prevents fraudulent use of your card, but it also helps eliminate temptation. This is a simple and easy way to stop overspending. A card on file is easy money; if you have to dig out the plastic, the time needed forces you to stop and think about the purchase.
Don't subscribe to trouble
Don't accept invitations to subscribe to shopping websites; it's an open door to advertising, secret special sales, and invitations to overspend.
When you shop: pick the right time and day
Know the times and days of the week that are ripe for the best deals: the middle to end of the week is usually the best time to find retail sales online (stock up time for the weekend), and Sundays are your day to book the cheapest airline tickets. Consider the time of year you shop, too: tools and men's clothes are a deal in the week leading up to the Father's Day holiday. Gym memberships are pricey in December and January, but drop drastically in June.
Declutter before you refill your space
Recycle, reuse, re-gift, and return what you already own before you shop. You'll create space and probably find barely-used things you forgot you owned.
Set a limit on the amount you'll spend
The spending limit on your credit card isn't a goal, it's a warning sign. Don't go there unless you want to spend months or even years paying off the balance. Have a spending budget and stick to it by keeping a running total of your online spending. Being organized and sticking to your budget is a great way to stop overspending. The use of reward programs, savings codes, and coupons is required for online shopping; never pay full price for anything!
Free shipping or no shipping at all
Many online retailers offer free shipping only if the purchase amount is over a certain level. Others will offer free shipping regardless of the total. If no free shipping option exists, use a "free ship to store" option and pick up your purchase. Shopping around the holidays often includes the free shipping incentive. And you can always call the retailer and ask for it.
Compare, contrast and leave a tease in your online cart
Comparison shop before you make an investment on a major item and ensure the best deal and avoid overspending. Put the item in your cart and then go offline, and wait. You'll get an email. They want to know why you haven't completed the sale. Now you have control. Contact the site and let them know you want a better deal, or that you found a better deal, and could they match it? Many websites will provide a counteroffer of a better price and that all-important free shipping.