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Step away from the computer and put your credit card down.
Shopping online is the easiest thing since pre-sliced bread. The Internet is faster than ever, marketing funnels have a solution for every hesitation you’re feeling, and Amazon, oh Amazon, knows everything I’ve ever wanted and the things I’m going to want.
The people who design online shopping experiences are professionals and they are good at what they do.
The amount of innovation that’s come out of companies like Amazon and Walmart to get us to buy more with less thought is mind-blowing. There’s a reason Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has been the world’s richest man and remains one of the richest.
Not to say that any of this is inherently evil. For the parent who’s not brave enough to take another trip out of the house with their kids or the millennial in LA who can’t bear the thought of sitting in traffic, online shopping is priceless.
But convenience comes with a price.
For the person in debt, the ease of shopping online can be more than a budget buster. The satisfaction of white boxes on your doorstep can unravel everything you’ve worked for.
While I’m a huge fan of online shopping I think we need to make it harder for ourselves to do it. We need to bring to the online shopping world the element of thought and consideration that comes with a literal full cart in a store. And thankfully I’m not the only one who feels this way.
In addition to the easy tips to reduce your exposure, you can take it a step further with plugins and services that give you an added layer of protection against the “shiny new” of the online shopping experience.
Unsubscribe From Emails
Gmail has this great feature that puts the unsubscribe button at the top of the email. You don’t even have to look at all the cute shoes you’re missing out on to unsubscribe!
There are some subscriptions I want to keep but those can also pose the biggest threat to my bank statement. For those, I use a free service called Unroll.Me to “roll up” all the emails I want to stay subscribed to but don’t want to be tempted by in my inbox. It also allows me to choose to unsubscribe, roll up, or keep in the inbox every new subscription and keeps my inbox a productive place.
Take Apps off Your Phone
Mobile internet usage has now surpassed desktop usage so retailers are offering incentives like special discounts and early access to sales to get their app on your phone. The easiest way to put a little distance between you and the cart is to delete the app.
I suggest going a step further and deleting, or at least hiding your social media apps. A popular tactic in marketing right now is word of mouth marketing and influencer marketing. Companies use referral programs to get your friends to show off their products in hopes that you’ll buy them.
Even with no incentive, my friends are always posting new gadgets and outfits on Instagram and Facebook that make me immediately want to hand over my money. So even if you don’t see a direct correlation between online shopping and social media, it’s there. And I promise spending less time on social media will magically help you spend less.
Take Credit Cards Out of Autofill
I love Autofill, it makes everything faster, except sometimes it thinks my first name is “Female.” But otherwise, it’s great for filling out redundant forms and having my credit card number saved so I can buy everything.
Even when I leave my cards at home on a No Spend Challenge my computer is happy to help me out by storing my card info. The solution to this is deleting them out of Autofill. It’ll be inconvenient for some things but worth it in the end.
On the bright side, loan servicers save bank information internally so you’ll never need your card to make paying loans and bills easier.
There’s no shame in my website blocking game. I don’t struggle with this as much anymore but if I do feel like there’s a site that poses a threat to my willpower then I’ll definitely block it.
It’s almost sad that there’s a market for extensions and apps like this but hey, like I said before, marketers are really good at their jobs. These sites and their advertising are designed, even customized, to appeal to my weak spots. So I highly recommend working smarter, not harder, with these tools.
StayFocusd is a free Chrome extension that limits your time on “time wasting” websites and can block sites altogether. You can configure by time, domain, subdomain, even content like games and videos.
LeechBlock is a free Firefox add-on and does the same thing as StayFocusd. You specify which sites to block and when to block them.
Icebox is another free Chrome extension that cuts impulse spending by replacing the “buy now” button at over 400 popular online stores with a “put it on ice” button. You can set a cool off period making the item un-buyable until the time is up. Then the “buy now” button appears.
You’ll be able to keep track of how much you’ve spent and saved in the plugin’s lifetime. You can customize the cool off period, which stores to include, and easily turn the plugin off if you really need to buy something immediately.
Freedom is an app that works across all your mobile devices and computer to block money and time-wasting websites for however long you set it. Freedom isn’t free (lolololol) but it’s super affordable at $29 per year or $120 for life. You can get 40% any plan using the code STAYFREE40 at checkout.