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How to Avoid Overspending Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the landscape of shopping. With most stores limiting capacity and people staying home to remain safe, many are turning to online shopping. Although making purchases online is not a new trend, it can present hurdles to staying on a budget, and it’s especially risky during times of economic uncertainty.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a majority of shopping was focused mainly on essentials, such as paper goods and non-perishable foods. As the necessity for social distancing rose and stay-at-home orders were put in place, the consumer behavior shifted from purchasing necessities to a newfound wave of comfort buying.

Although no one is immune to catching the comfort buying bug, people who struggle with consistent impulse purchasing behavior might be getting hit the worst. According to a poll from, 23 percent of American adults who have previous credit card debt have added to it throughout the pandemic.  

Whether it’s ordering new clothes, home items, or even workout equipment, all of these costly, non-essential purchases can quickly add up.

While treating yourself on occasion is healthy and normal behavior, it’s important to recognize when it’s putting you in the hole. Consider the following tips before making your next online purchase. 

1. Set aside time during the day to research potential purchases. Rather than using online shopping as a go-to activity anytime you feel bored or need a break, set a window a couple of days per week when you can look for items. Once that time passes, it’s your cue to move on to something else. This research time will also allow to investigate all options before making an impulse purchase.

2. Wait before buying. It’s a common rule of thumb to wait 24 hours before completing a purchase. It gives you time to mull it over to determine if it is worth the cost and how it will affect your finances. 

3. Don’t save your credit card information online. Opting out of this is not only the safest practice to keep your information secure, but it also helps curb quick impulse purchases when you can’t add to your cart and check out in one quick motion. Having to input your card information for each purchase manually will help you think critically about the purchase you’re making and avoid overspending. 

4. Use budget apps and stick to them. Many digital resources can help you determine a budget and how to stay on track successfully. You can use apps to set up a system where you can view your income stream compared to how much you spend. Being aware of how your actions affect your finances is eye-opening and brings an incredibly valuable perspective. 

Placing just a few self-imposed boundaries when it comes to online shopping is one of the best ways to limit overspending. Remember, changing behavior takes time, practice, and consistency. Making a conscious effort now will help you in the long-term.

Source: News Day