4 Ways to Curb Your Online Shopping Enthusiasm


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Browse. Click. Buy. Repeat. Shopping online has never been easier.

Nearly every need or want can be fulfilled and at your door in 48 hours or less, thanks to sites like Amazon, Walmart and Google Express.

That near-instant gratification can be problematic, though. Boxes and bills can pile up quickly, making a mess of your home and your finances. Even if your urge to Amazon isn’t yet a financial drain, it may well be a time suck.

Tidying up your online shopping habits can make you more productive, if not more fiscally responsible. Try these tricks to hamper your internet purchasing impulse.

1. Unsubscribe and unfollow

“Cleanse your inbox and unsubscribe from any notifications … that encourage you to shop,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance expert at TopCashBack.com, a website that offers rewards to shoppers who buy through the site.

Makenzi Wood’s kryptonite: Amazon Daily Deal emails. After she racked up more than $1,000 in six months — on everything from jewelry to clothes to hair extensions — she unsubscribed.

Wood, a marketer and author of the personal finance blog Picky Pinchers, also unfollowed brands on social media and used Unroll.me to unsubscribe from junk email in bulk and “rollup” other subscriptions into one daily email — rather than dozens of daily emails.

“I have lizard brain. I need to check emails immediately,” Wood says. “If I batch my emails with that tool, it doesn’t catch me by surprise as much and I’m able to evaluate it more logically.”

Services like Unroll.me have broad permissions to “read, send, delete, and manage your email” and may share your data anonymously. If you’re not comfortable with that, do things the old-fashioned way — unsubscribe individually. Promotional emails typically have a link at the bottom that you can click to shut off emails from that retailer or adjust their frequency.

2. Turn off app notifications

Retail apps can be a great way to save money. They can also be a trigger for impulse shopping, sending push notifications to your smartphone to alert you to sales.

If the pull of that push is too hard to resist, turn it off. Some apps give you the option to do this when you sign up, while others require you to go to your settings (typically a gear icon) or account profile to disable notifications.

3. Make checkout difficult

Websites offer to store your payment information for a reason: They know the easier it is to check out, the more likely you are to complete your purchase.

Add some friction back into the process by removing saved payment information from your favorite sites. And keep your wallet out of reach, so you’ll have to walk across the room to get your cards — then manually enter your account number — to check out.

You can take this a step further and enlist a trusted friend or family member to hold on to your cards. Strong emphasis on “trusted.” Wood locked her cards in a safe — at her now-husband’s apartment — for six months.

“This way, if I wanted my card I had to go over there and explain to someone why I needed my cards.”

4. Institute a waiting period

“If ever you feel the temptation to buy something, go ahead and add it to your cart,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “The simple act of filling your online cart is often enough to satisfy that urge to splurge.”

Woroch suggests letting your stash sit in your cart for at least 24 hours before completing the purchase.

Too tempted by a full cart? Put your finds on a wish list or set up price alerts. Michelle Madhok, an online shopping expert and founder of the deals site shefinds.com, uses the website Shopstyle for this.

“I do this all the time when a new season starts,” Madhok says. As the season wears down, she gets alerts for pieces she flagged at the start. “Frequently by that time I don't want the item anymore.”