How to Structure your Online Shopping to Help you Achieve Your Goals
Confession time: I love the Ama*** Fairy.
They deliver boxes directly to my door step several times a week and many times I don’t even know what I will be opening when the box arrives.
This is usually due to an item that I have subscribed to magically appearing each month like my Melatonin Gummies or my dog treats. Other times, it’s those items that I have searched for locally to no avail. Sometimes, it’s the gift that I ordered for the kids to take to the upcoming birthday party. The Ama*** Fairy has made my life so much easier and has brought me joy.
But is it too much joy? Do I spend more than I would if I only shopped in stores? To answer this question, I started by examining my spending for the last thirty days on Ama***.
It took me less than five minutes to pull up my order history and compile some basic statistics. In the last 30 days…
- I spent $625.46.
- I purchased a total of 24 items, of which six were essential items.
I love my new pink tank top for the gym that reads “Surely Not Everyone was Kung Fu Fighting,” but I probably didn’t need it nor the Sea Monkeys that I purchased after my daughter begged me for them. So, to answer the question – yes, I absolutely spend more than I would if I only shopped in stores. After this short analysis, I have the measure of my problem. Now what?
How do you cut back on online spending? There are many suggestions to be found – online of all places – that suggest which changes you can easily make. Here are a few of my favorites:
Cut the impulse by only checking out once per week.
Retailers will hold items in your cart long after you have logged off. They even do so across multiple devices! While they are counting on you going back to the cart to make that purchase, you can beat them at their own game. Check out only on Fridays (or any other favorite day of the week). This will give you time between the impulse of adding it to your cart and actually making the purchase. It will also give you time to remove items that you don’t really need.
Don’t Drink and Prime
You may have heard that alcohol can impair your judgement; while sipping and shopping is fun, it’s not really great for your wallet. If you must sip and shop, use tip #1 – don’t check out the same night. Nobody wants to explain to their spouse why the $250 pair of sunglasses was shipped or the new Sea Monkey habitat.
Unlink your credit cards.
We all know that the marketing geniuses behind much of today’s technology have focused on human behavior and removing all barriers so that we are addicted to not only games but also the ease of ordering. If you can delay a purchase by even thirty seconds, you may actually change your mind. If you have to go through the difficult steps of getting off the sofa to get your wallet and then entering a credit card, you may stop yourself from that unnecessary purchase. Give yourself the gift of one more obstacle to clear.
Easily Create Better Habits
I am known for creating structure in my life to make habits stick. In the past, I’ve written about saving through your paycheck or increasing your savings when you get a raise. This is another structure to add to your life:
Only check out online on Fridays (or Saturdays or pay days or…).
The easier we make it to control our impulses, the more likely we are to succeed. Ultimately, if you aren’t spending your money, you are saving it and saving it is what will get you to your life’s most important goals!
Cecilia Beach Brown CFP® is an Annapolis-based financial advisor who is dedicated to assisting her clients through celebratory (retirement, college planning) and difficult (loss of spouse, job loss) moments. She also works extensively with Lincoln Financial Securities to help develop companywide initiatives around Dynamic Financial Planning. CLICK HERE for more about Cecilia and to schedule an appointment. LFS - 3781082-092221