How to avoid being tempted by online shopping

By Harper Banks

Nowadays you can access almost anything by ordering it online. Once you’ve set up your profile, a purchase can be made within a matter of minutes.

However, this kind of convenience comes with a risk of overindulgence. We have a look at the distinction between needs and wants, and we consider how you can curb your expenditure.

Tip: If you have several credit accounts open, you can consolidate them with a loan.

Shopping out of necessity, or getting swept up in the buzz?

As with many activities, such as eating, working, or exercising, there’s a point at which something that’s considered harmless, necessary, or good can become less beneficial.

Craig Lubbe, CEO of bidorbuy, notes that the same can be said of online shopping.

“For most people, shopping online is either convenient or a pleasant diversion, or both. During lockdown, it helped people to safely purchase items that hadn’t been designated as essential, but which they still needed,” says Lubbe.

He explains that when browsing or shopping online, people are exposed to several product promotions on ecommerce sites, or indirectly via banners and remarketing on other sites.

“This can contribute to some shoppers getting swept up in the buzz around the latest gadget, or getting excited about the extent to which certain items have been discounted,” says Lubbe.

He believes that the boundary between diligent researching and getting carried away isn’t fixed. Rather, it will vary from person to person.

READ MORE: How to identify an investment scam

How to keep your trigger finger calm  

Lubbe says that e-commerce is designed to be as convenient and "frictionless" as possible.

“While this can save time and make the whole experience of searching for and purchasing items more enjoyable, it does carry with it a risk. Spending money can become a little too easy, and this can result in overspending,” says Lubbe.

“Our advice to anyone who feels tempted to spend more than they perhaps should, is to add some controls back into the process,” he suggests.

By this, Lubbe means that you should put small checkpoints in place, giving yourself the extra few moments that you may need to reflect on whether you really should buy an item.

Lubbe’s advice would be to try the following:

  • Dispense with the credit card. Consider using other payment options such as EFT. This will ensure that you have the funds in place to support your purchase.
  • Try no-interest payments. Purchasing platforms such as Payflex allow you to pay in instalments without attracting any interest.
  • Have a long-term financial goal. Save for a big-ticket item like a new car or a family holiday, and then weigh up each potential online purchase against the future benefit you can enjoy if you stick to your saving plan.
  • Take up hobbies and other interests. Often people browse and shop because they’re bored and are using online shopping as a form of entertainment. It’s ok to love it, but make sure you’re being responsible.

Lubbe says you should plan ahead, and compare the prices and specs offered by different sellers. You can then decide what an item is worth to you, and set this as the maximum you will spend.

“At any given time, one or more e-commerce sites will be running sales or promotions. We recognise that online shopping is an enjoyable pastime for people, especially during times when other leisure options are limited,” says Lubbe.

However, he advises that you should always make use of sales to save money on items you were planning to buy before the sale, rather than buying items simply because they’re on sale.

“This way, you can enjoy the satisfaction of grabbing a bargain, without stressing about having spent more than you can afford,” says Lubbe.

You can apply for online credit through Mobicred.

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