Shopping online is often much easier than shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. A few clicks, a few days to wait, and boom! your order arrives at your door. Unfortunately, your credit card statement will arrive, too, and it's just as hard to pay that off online as it is any other way. The best way to keep from overspending when you do your online shopping is to not spend as much in the first place. Easier said than done, you say? Well, here are some tips to help.
Don't: Don't assume you're getting the best deal with free shipping offers.
Do: Compare the price with free shipping to offers with competitors where free shipping is not included.
Free shipping always catches a shopper's eye. Free shipping makes it feel like you're just paying what you would in the store, without the trip to the store. Many online stores, however, raise the price of the items to cover the cost of offering the free shipping, so you're not actually getting it for free after all.
Don't: Don't buy extra just to get the free shipping.
Do: Do compare the costs with paid and free shipping.
Sometimes free shipping is offered only if you buy over a certain amount of goods. If the items you already planned on purchasing trigger the free shipping offer, that's great. Don't add extra, unnecessary items to your cart just to get the free shipping though - you'll almost always spend more than if you'd simply paid the shipping fee.
One-Click and Saved Credit Cards
Don't: Don't sign up for one-click ordering and don't save credit card information with online stores.
Do: Do make yourself enter all your shipping and payment data for each order.
Online stores want to make it very easy for you to buy from them, and what's easier than putting things in your cart and then ordering them all with a single click or swipe? Turn off one-click ordering and delete saved credit cards from online store accounts to force yourself to make extra effort when shopping online. Slowing yourself down or not wanting to go through the extra hassle of entering those details can make you think twice and maybe not bother ordering.
Don't: Don't go and buy something the moment you think about it or see it.
Do: Do force yourself to wait and consider - do you really need it?
It's so easy to be sitting on your couch in the evening, see a commercial for something you think is really great, find it on your phone and tap that order in. Yay, nearly instant gratification!
This approach will not help you reduce the high interest rates you are carrying, but it does give you the incentive to keep going. As you pay off each debt, you can check it off the list. You will gain the confidence you need to stay on track until you have managed to reduce or eliminate all your debt.
Unfortunately, though, the joy of ordering that wonderful widget is short-lived, but you'll be paying off that credit card for a long while. Instead of ordering as soon as you think about it, try leaving those items in your online cart and waiting at least 24 hours to review the list. Does it still look as exciting the next day? Usually not.
It All Adds Up
Don't: Don't buy extra things just because they're cheap.
Do: Do remember that ten $5 items cost the same as one $50 item.
It's easy to find yourself adding lower-priced items to your online shopping cart just because they seem like great deals. This is the same feeling you might get in a dollar store when you keep adding $1 things to your cart, only to find at checkout time you've spent $40 and you only intended to spend $15. Online stores love to offer you inexpensive items when you start the checkout process, knowing how easy it is to cave in and think "oh, it's only another $5". Set your shopping allowance and stick to it.
Don't: Don't subscribe to store email lists.
Do: Do use sales and promo codes to save money.
Stores absolutely love to sign you up for their loyalty programs and email lists. They know what you like to buy and can easily target ad campaigns and special promotional offers directly to you. You probably don't need any more coffee mugs and wouldn't go shopping for some, but if an email from your favorite store advertises some fantastic mugs, you'll probably be tempted to buy them just because the store made you aware of them. Without that email, you probably wouldn't have spent money on new mugs. Instead, if you know you'll need to buy something, check store websites for scheduled sales offers and search for promo codes online so you can avoid temptation.
Don't: Don't buy at the last minute or without a list.
Do: Plan ahead.
Whenever possible, plan your online shopping ahead. If you start with a list of only what you need to buy and stick to it, you'll avoid spending extra on things that simply catch your eye. Also, if you shop with plenty of time before you need the items, you can take advantage of slower, cheaper shipping rates. Planning ahead also gives you time to comparison shop so you can find the best deals.
Don't: Don't be too inflexible.
Do: Do be willing to look at a variety of options.
It's easy to go shopping for something online and find once you start shopping that there are more options with more bells and whistles than you knew about beforehand. Pretty soon, you're planning to buy one that's twice as expensive as what you were originally going to get. Try to stick with your original plan. Be willing, too, to consider other options. Does it have to be new? Can you get the same thing for less, possibly used, on eBay or another reselling option?
These are just a few of the ways to help you prevent overspending when you're shopping online.