5 Things That Get You To Overspend on Shopping, and How to Avoid Them
With or without a global pandemic keeping people at home, online shopping is expected to continue increasing.
If you find yourself scrolling through Amazon or buying things for the sake of shopping and at least doing something, it may be more than the coronavirus that’s causing you to shop.
There are some things you can do to curtail your spending, whether you’re shopping online at home, at physical stores that are open, or doing curbside pickup.
First, realize you’re not alone.
The U.S. is expected to have 300 million online shoppers in 2023. The U.S. leads the world in average online spending per shopper annually, at $1,804.
A lot of that money goes to Amazon, where 92% of shoppers have bought something, according to an NPR/Marist poll. Over two-thirds of respondents, or 69%, said they have purchased an item online.
Some things trigger spending. Here are five that may be causing you to shop more, and how to deal with them:
Like turning the TV on when you have a stack of books you’ve been meaning to read, shopping is something that’s usually easy to do.
Especially online shopping. And during a pandemic when it’s unsafe to be in crowds, it’s safer at home.
Shopping on a phone or computer is also popular because of:
Speed. You can click and buy something in seconds. Convenience. Shop in the middle of the night from your bed, if you want. No lines. Free shipping. Free returns.
How to deal with the ease of shopping online?
Just like you would with anything else, choose the harder path.
Eating vegetables, exercising and reading take a little more effort and willpower, but they beat eating fried foods while laying on the couch watching TV. You get the idea. Put your phone and computer away and go for a walk.
If boredom is the root of all evil, shopping is a weed that grows from it.
You’ve probably done plenty of things online because you’re bored. Including shopping.
Don’t let shopping be a substitute for finding something fun to do, especially if it’s something that doesn’t require spending money.
Go for a walk. Explore an area of your neighborhood that you haven’t been to in years. Find a hobby. Catch up on TV shows you’ve wanted to watch. Whatever it is, do it.
And when you find yourself shopping just for the sake of shopping, then ask yourself if it’s because you’re bored and have nothing else to do. Don’t let shopping fill up your free time because you aren’t creative enough to find a better solution.
Saving money by buying during a sale is great if it was something you were planning on buying anyway.
But if that dress you saw is half off and you already have a closet full of dresses, you haven’t really saved any money. Instead, you spent your hard-earned money on something you don’t really need.
Sales at 50% off, “buy one, get one free,” coupons, a sale that ends soon, and other promotions are meant to get people to think about saving money instead of spending. Your receipt may tell you exactly how much money you’ve saved with the discount.
Don’t fall for it. You never save money by spending it. You’ll get a cheaper price, but you’re still giving someone your money.
When you see such promotions, ask yourself if you really need the item on sale. Go home and think about it for 24 hours.
The chemical response called “shopper’s high” is like the rush from gambling, drinking or exercising. Dopamine is released in the brain for some people when buying something.
Neuroscientists have found through brain scans that the pleasure center of the brain shows more activity when they’re shown a range of products. Show them the prices for the items and some people’s part of the brain that processes pain becomes overly active and they’re likely to decide against making the purchase.
Others didn’t experience that pain as much and enjoyed the immediate satisfaction of shopping.
If shopping elevates your mood, then try to find another way to do it. Go for a run or other type of exercise that releases endorphins. Or just spend time with your pet to lower your need to shop to be happy.
If you can’t avoid the urge to go shopping when you crave that high, try shopping for a smaller purchase. A nearby drugstore that you can walk to can have cosmetics, gift cards or other small purchases that can lessen the financial hit.
Shopping as a Game
This is similar to a shopper’s high, but it’s played up more by retailers at certain times of the year.
Black Friday can turn into a competition among shoppers who are out to find the best deal. There’s nothing bad about looking for a deal if it’s something you were looking to buy anyway.
But turning a day such as Black Friday, which is the biggest shopping day of the year, into a game where people must rush through a store as soon as it opens so they can get to a low-priced TV at the back of the store is a cruel way to get people to shop.
Big sales happen throughout the year. Christmas, Memorial Day and President’s Day all have their sales.
But Black Friday is the worst. Crowds of people wake up early to line up for deals on merchandise that is only discounted as a loss leader so they’ll spend more on other things.
That TV you’ve found that’s half off may be a great price, but is it a great TV? Will it likely stop working in a few years? Does it have the picture quality you want?
If a limited number of items are on sale, it should send you a message that you’re being gamed. Don’t let competition encourage you to buy things you can’t afford.
Black Friday has even been moved up by some stores to Thursday on Thanksgiving Day to squeeze an extra day of shopping out of consumers.
The good news here is that more stores are slowing down their Black Friday sales. Some are staying closed on Thanksgiving Day, giving employees and their customers a break from interrupting a holiday with their family with a day of work and a shopping spree.
That’s the kind of shopping trigger that we can all learn from and avoid. If shopping takes you away from spending time with people you love, then don’t do it.
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