This Is How You Stop Online Impulse Spending


Technology has made it so easy for us to get what we want, when we want it, no matter whether or not we can afford it. Impulse buy opportunities online are rampant — appearing in our newsfeeds, through emails, and on practically every website we visit. But in order to stay on track financially, one must eliminate those urges to impulsively buy things online. (See also: How Online Retailers Get You to Spend)

Here are eight ways to stop those online impulse buys.

1. Draft Your Online Budget

Like most financially successful people know, your budget should already give you a figure for pleasure spending. Once all of your financial obligations are met, some money that is left over can be earmarked for things you want to buy. As part of that figure, you can give yourself an allowance for online spending. This can help you to keep spending in check and resist the constant deals and steals being thrown in your face.

2. Delete Stored Credit Card Info

Delete any saved financial information from online retailers where you've previously made purchases. Future online purchases won't be so convenient — you'll have to fetch your credit card and enter the information every time — but inefficiency is the point. You will have introduced a subtle brake on your impulse to buy. (See also: Credit Card Safety for Online Shopping)

3. Pay Via a Single Account

Establish a new account through PayPal or other online wallet service. The money you earmark for online spending can be deposited into this account, and the only money you can spend online must come from this one account.

4. Buy Gift Cards Instead

If setting up a new account is not possible, consider putting a few bucks to the side each week to be used for gift cards designated for online purchases. Gift cards are a good way to control the spending you have to do and prevent you from going overboard. For example, you can buy yourself Amazon gift cards and deposit the credits into your account, only allowing yourself to buy things if you have enough credits.

5. Don't Give Out Your Email Address at the Mall

At first it may have seemed peculiar for the cashier at the mall to ask you for your email address, but now it's a pretty common way for stores to get their marketing information directly from you. You can say no when asked for your email account. This will prevent the stores from filling up your inbox with sales information and pitches you don't need to read. (See also: Best Places to Find Deals at the Mall)

6. Unsubscribe From Promo Emails

If you've already signed yourself up for those retail email lists, go to the very bottom of the email solicitation you have received and click the "Unsubscribe" link to be removed from the mailing list. This will not only help cut down on junk mail, but it can also help keep your spending in check.

7. Understand How Quickly Things Add Up

People often overspend on impulse buys because they don't realize exactly what constitutes an impulse buy. Even though the apps for your phone or your favorite songs only cost 99 cents, the little things will add up quick. Impulse buys and overspending can be done on anything you buy, not just the items with the big price tags. Review your past credit card bills to see how much and how often you splurged on "just one more song" or "just one more Candy Crush life." You may be surprised. (See also: 8 Ways to Stop Spending Today)

8. Read a Good Book Instead

If you tend to spend hours just surfing the net, you may need to find other ways to occupy your time. It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in the online world that you forget about doing other things you enjoy more that cost you far least than online shopping.

How do you resist the urge to splurge online? Share your best impulse buy beaters in comments!

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Guest's picture

Addendum to #6: Don't be an Amazon Prime subscriber!

Guest's picture

What if you're a Prime subscriber for the video streaming, and the shipping is just a bonus?

Guest's picture

How about:
#9 - Take the "impulse" out of impulse shopping by waiting 30 days before making a new purchase. That can keep the lizard brain in check because most of us don't want the item if we have a chance to let logic and not emotion dictate our actions.

It goes beyond #2, though any delay is a potential way for us to rethink a decision.

Guest's picture

Great tips! I have my own budget, and also I only pay through PayPal, so I can easily count how much I have spent already.

Guest's picture

Bad idea re: gift cards and paypal balance. Lose all of the CC protections and perks. Some of these seem a bit silly and not likely to do much...understand how things add up? Read a book instead? Make it harder to type in #'s? If people could do this, there wouldn't be a spending problem in the first place :)

Excel spreadsheet - 2 columns. Left = expenses/must have's. Right = wants/extras. Let the program add things up and keep a running tab..know your max for the month and compare all numbers. Easier to keep an eye on a budget if its a simple page with actual #'s updated compared with what's "available." Also - one column for things "to buy" - keep a list, refer to it and buy 1 item here and there when the budget allows, then delete that and any others you decide aren't necessary as time passes. I find my list gets reduced after a while when I realize I don't really need the widget...and am more likely to "Save up" for the item or 2 that I see on the list I really do want/need/will use.

CC's have great tools to show you what you spend in each category. Every 3 months we DL it and see where we can do better.

I once had a shopaholic friend get 2 CC's. One for "musts" and one for "wants" - might work for some people.