The same way video killed the radio star, online shopping is fast replacing brick-and-mortar stores all over the world. It’s not hard to understand why. Instead of having to get dressed and set aside time to head to a mall, you can now buy whatever you want, whenever you want, with just a tap on your smartphone. What’s more, due to significantly lower overheads, most products are cheaper online.
And now, thanks to COVID-19, it’s not just the Gen Z and Millennials who have turned to e-commerce. During the recent Circuit Breaker ‘lockdown’ in Singapore, many traditional shoppers were pushed to try shopping online since it was not advisable to leave our homes and non-essential retail shops were all closed.
Online shopping has truly taken extreme convenience to a whole new level, and it’s precisely because of that that many shoppers end up hooked onto the habit. Yup, online shopping addiction is a real thing, and it’s surprisingly prevalent.
If you’ve been getting ‘credit card bill shock’ and often find yourself mindlessly scrolling Lazada at every chance you get… For the sake of your finances and mental well-being, here are tips to curb your online shopping addiction.
What is an online shopping addiction?
Compulsive shopping (oniomania) is the broader behavioural addiction; ‘retail therapy’ in layman terms. It involves compulsive buying to help you feel good and distract you from negative feelings like anxiety and/or depression. Online shopping addiction is a subset of that.
As with most addictions, it becomes a problem when this compulsive shopping becomes a preoccupation, and spills into other aspects of your life.
For example, if your friends and family actually start to notice and raise the issue, expressing concern over your shopping habits, that’s a big red flag. If you start missing work or your appointments, or start hiding your packages and credit card bills, that’s alarming too.
As mentioned, ‘bill shock’ is another symptom, as it shows you clearly spent more than you intended to. Overspending is also considered an addictive behaviour, and if left unfixed, could leave you rolling in debt.
5 ways to curb your online shopping addiction
Whether you truly have a compulsive shopping addiction, or just feel like you’ve been overspending and busting your budget, here are some ways you can get yourself back on track.
1. Don’t save your credit card details
Aside from the internet, do you know what else made shopping so much easier? Credit cards. It’s much easier to overspend with credit because you don’t feel the pinch of spending. To matters worse, with payment solutions like Apple Pay and Google Pay that remember your credentials, all you need to do is tap ‘pay’ and viola! The deed is done.
In fact, according to Visa’s Consumer Payment Attitudes Report (2019), Singapore consumers (48%) are the most frequent users of in-app payments, higher than the regional average of 41%.
One way to help limit your online shopping is to never store your credit card details on your phone or on shopping sites. This makes checking out harder because you have to key in your details all over again, but this extra step will force you to evaluate if you really need to make the purchase.
See more: How many credit cards should I have?
2. Unsubscribe from online shopping mailing lists
If you’re addicted to online shopping, chances are, you’re getting those ‘FLASH SALES!’ emails every other day. While it’s good to look out for bargains and good deals, if you’re addicted to online shopping and overspending, it’s better to ‘close your eyes’ to these irresistible sales by unsubscribing to these mailing lists altogether.
If you don’t know that Sephora is having their biannual 20% members’ sale, you won’t feel tempted to buy your 7th eyeshadow palette. Simple as that.
3. Block your favourite online shopping sites and delete their apps
If unsubscribing to mailing lists doesn’t work, you can take your self-imposed ban to the next level by blocking your favourite online shopping sites from your mobile and/or desktop browser. You should also delete all the shopping apps from your phone.
Of course, you can just as easily unblock these sites and re-download the apps if you really wanted to, but again, it makes completing the purchase slightly more inconvenient.
4. Go on a no-spend challenge
Another fun way to curb your spending habits is to go on a no-spend challenge. A no-spend challenge is basically a set of rules that restrict your shopping for a set period of time.
Since it’s a ‘game’ you play on your own, you can set the rules based on your needs. For example, if you think you’ve been blogshopping too much, you can start by limiting yourself to say, two clothing purchases per month. Once you achieve that, slowly cut it down to one and eventually eliminate it from your shopping list altogether.
Of course, it’s ideal if you can completely stop clothes shopping from the get go, but that’s not very likely, especially if you’re addicted to it.
5. Don’t check out immediately, think before you buy
Just because you can buy it in a heartbeat doesn’t mean you should. If you’re serious about curbing your online shopping addiction, add the item to your wishlist and don’t check out immediately.
Instead, give yourself some time to think about whether you should buy it. For example, if you’re eyeing an expensive handbag, instead of compulsively buying it right away, give yourself a month to mull it over.
Ask yourself: Do I really need this item? Do I already have something at home that can do the job? Do I have space to store this new purchase? You can also take the time to declutter your home -- who knows, you may even already own something similar.
Most times, if it’s an impulse buy, you’ll realise you don’t actually need (or even want) the item.
How to prevent overspending
The above tips are to help manage your online shopping addiction, but apart from that, here are some other ways to make sure you don’t overspend.
#1 Always pay your credit card bill in full
Don’t be tempted to pay the minimum sum — you will end up spending more because of the illusion of more disposable cash, and very quickly fall knee-deep in debt thanks to exorbitant credit card interest charges.
#2 Use a debit card instead
Since the money is immediately deducted from your account, at least there is zero chance of you spending money you don’t have.
#3 Track your expenses
Whether you download an expense tracking app or jot it down in an old-school notebook, it’s good practice to record your purchases. This way, you’ll know immediately if you bust your budget.
See more: 5 best free budgeting apps for tracking expenses
There you have it, our top tips for managing your online shopping addiction. Start small or go cold turkey, you have to find your own way of dealing with it. Otherwise, you will always struggle with your monthly credit card repayments and end up having to postpone or miss the larger financial goals in life.