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Starting Today You Can Stop Online Impulse Spending If You Follow These 7 Ways

Starting Today You Can Stop Online Impulse Spending If You Follow These 7 Ways

Online shopping is the best kind of window shopping you can do! You can sit around in your pajamas, regardless of the time of day, and shop for anything you can imagine. Unfortunately, this means it’s way too easy to let yourself spin out of control. Time flies when you’re surfing the Internet, and you might not even realize how long you’ve been shopping or how much you’ve spent. Check out these tips on how you can stop online impulse spending.

1. Pay from a single account.

Having multiple accounts makes it harder to keep up with your finances. Whether you use a bank account, credit card or Paypal account for online purchases, make sure you use just one of those. That way you can always know how much you have in the account and how much you’ve spent.

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2. Don’t save your credit card information.

One-click checkout is the easiest thing to do when you’re shopping online — it’s literally just one click to enter all your payment information and shipping address! But it’s this ease that makes it more likely you’ll spend more online, because you don’t even feel like you’re shopping. There’s no exchange of money for purchases — it’s all visual, through a computer screen until a box arrives at your door a week later.

3. Unsubscribe from promotional emails.

Sometimes you don’t even think about shopping until you get that email promoting the latest big sale your favorite store is having. Then it just seems stupid to miss out on major savings, right? Wrong! Unsubscribe from promotional emails from any store so you’re not tempted to buy when you don’t need to. You shouldn’t shop just to shop, you should only shop when you need a particular item. Not getting tempting offers in your inbox will help change your approach to shopping – and help you save time checking emails!

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4. Don’t give out your email address when you shop.

Most stores ask for your email now when you check out. They do this just like they used to ask for your phone number — because they want to contact you in the future and try to get you into their store! Instead of giving out this information, just tell them you prefer not to give out your email or phone number. They won’t badger you about it, they’ll just say ok and leave that blank. This will cut down on those promotional emails mentioned above.

5. Limit your time shopping online.

It’s so easy to waste time online just clicking through links, seeing what you wish you could buy if you had the money, checking out what the store recommends for you, seeing what people bought who liked the same item as you. Before you know it, hours have slipped away! It’s ok to shop online because, most of the time, it’s way more efficient than going to stores in your city. But make sure to limit time when you shop (or window shop!) online. Set a physical timer if you need it, but try to keep track of it yourself. Promise to just look for one item, or on one site. It’s way too easy to impulse buy when you’re just surfing the internet aimlessly. When your eyes get tired and you can’t scroll through pages anymore, you’ve probably had enough!

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6. Research every purchase.

Instead of simply clicking to put an item in your cart, do research first. Even if it’s not a major purchase, checking a few websites can help you make the best decision. Read reviews from people who have bought and used the product. Make sure it will last for a long time and does exactly what it says it will do. Make sure you don’t need to buy additional accessories. Check a few other websites and see if you can find it even cheaper, or with free or faster shipping. Sometimes you’ll find that you don’t really need this exact product, or that you’d rather wait to find it cheaper at another outlet.

7. Keep a wish list.

You don’t have to buy everything right now! A lot of websites allow you to keep a wish list, or add things to your cart and save them to purchase later. Or you can keep a list in a text document, complete with links. This ensures that you’ll remember cool things you’ve seen for yourself or others, but you can wait and make sure you still want or need them at a later date, instead of buy them right at that moment when you might not have the finances.

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Featured photo credit: Jorge Franganillo via flickr.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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