We used to dream about having the time to just stay at home and ‘chill’. Our lives were always so busy with work, school, kid’s activities and all the other things we felt we ‘had’ to do. Now we’re staying at home and frankly, it’s getting old. I know right now we all feel a little like Bill Murray’s character “Phil’ in the movie “Groundhog Day”, where every day seems like a repeat of the day before.
For me, some days I am super productive and inspired to work on my financial coaching business, write, exercise and even clean my house. Other days all I feel like doing is laying on the couch watching mindless TV shows and eating Cheetos. Hey, I know you’ve all been there so don’t judge!
This COVID-19 pandemic is causing us to feel anxiety, depression and social isolation, all of which are strong emotions that can be triggers to impulse shopping. Credit Karma recently surveyed over one thousand adults and found that 35% of Americans said they are impulse buying to deal with Coronavirus stress. The most common items purchased in impulse buys are food items, alcohol, toys/games for kids, and we’ve even seen a rush on home improvement items.
Many of us feel like we want to do some ‘virtual shopping’ since we can’t go shopping in-person. Retailers are being very aggressive by pushing daily emails out to us with the latest spring fashions and amazing discounts that we find hard to pass up. These retailers know that when we are consistently see their emails, at some point we’re going to click.
Many people might justify doing more online purchasing because they are saving money in other ways such as eating out, going to movies, vacations and gas for our cars which are sitting in our driveways. However, we’re also spending more on food and utilities since we are home and many of us have seen our incomes decline or even disappear.
Here are the Five Best Ways For How To Save Money Online Shopping:
- 1. Unsubscribe to retail email alerts: My email is bombarded with ‘sales’ from retailers daily, promising me amazing savings on everything from shoes to furniture to anti-aging face cream. When you see items that are seventy-five percent off, they become hard to resist. We all love a bargain, right? Just click the ‘unsubscribe’ icon located somewhere in that email to stop these tempting emails.
- 24-hour rule: If you really want to buy something, challenge yourself to wait twenty-four hours to hit the ‘purchase’ button. If you really think it’s still something you want to buy and can afford, at least you’ve put some thought behind it. Trust me, unless you are buying toilet paper or hand sanitizer, the item will still be in your cart the next day.
- Set a browsing time. It’s too tempting to start browsing for things we want when we’re bored or need a time away from our loved ones. And it’s really tempting to be browsing while on a Zoom meeting that’s boring us to tears. Instead, set a browsing time each week where you give yourself permission to look at whatever site you want. This will actually reduce the amount of browsing time and cut back on your impulse buying.
- Have a ‘ME’ budget line item that you can spend guilt free. It’s ok to dedicate a certain amount of money each month that’s strictly for you to spend on you. Whether you want to spend that budget on clothes, personal care, treats for your pet or home decorating items, its’ your ‘fun’ money to spend on you. However, know that when its used up and there’s no more money in the budget for this month, you cannot spend more.
- If you’re really set on buying something, shop around for best deal: There will be times when you just want to pull the trigger and buy something. Ok, we’re all human. But shop around for the best deal. Check multiple websites for sales and make sure you get free shipping. Also, be sure to read the retailer’s return policy. I’ve recently purchased several items from Facebook Marketplace and saved myself a ton. My most recent purchase was a brand-new photo album that retails on Amazon for $14.99 and I paid $2 by simply driving 4 miles to pick it up from someone’s porch. Score!
If you’re still struggling with impulse shopping, you should to look into the emotions behind your shopping. What are you feeling that is causing you to shop so much? Here at Money Mentor Group, we help our clients overcome this challenge. We often do an exercise with clients called ‘What I Spent’, where you’ll track your purchases, what it cost, how you paid for it and how you were feeling when you made that purchase. Were you stressed? Were you lonely? Were you bored? After a while, most clients see a pattern and then can work on changing their behaviors – ultimately learning techniques for how to save money online shopping. Here is a link to the exercise if you want to try it yourself.
We’ll get through this time because we’ll find strength we didn’t know we had. At Money Mentor Group, we’ll help you understand the emotions that are tied to your money behaviors so you come out of this pandemic as financially fit as possible.