We’ve talked about shopping a lot here on NicoleLapin.com, and I’m usually the first to say that shopping is totally fine — as long as you build it into your budget, and make sure that your “fun” money doesn’t exceed 15% of your overall budget. But the ease of online shopping and mobile shopping apps can make what was already an age-old temptation to overspend unbearable. If your palms are getting sweaty just thinking about online shopping, you might have a problem. Yeah, YOU. How do you know??
Ask yourself these three questions right now to determine if you’re a compulsive online shopper. Your answers might surprise you!
I call it the V-H-S test, because it’s about VOLUME, HIGH, and SECRECY:
- Volume – do you often buy more in quantity than you intend to? Five pair of shoes when you logged on for just one?
- The High – do you recognize the feeling of euphoria when clicking “add to cart” or when packages arrive? Are those feelings quickly followed by feelings of shame or guilt?
- Secrecy – this is a big one! Have you ever hid your purchases by having them shipped somewhere else, like your office, or have you hidden bills from your spouse?
If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you likely have an online shopping problem. But as I’ve said time and again, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Here are three ways you can start making a comeback—and kick your dirty online shopping habit once and for all:
- Unsubscribe from all promotional emails. When you get a promotional email, do not click on “display the images.” Instead, go straight to the unsubscribe link within the message (it’s usually wayyyy down on the bottom of the email; keep scrolling!). Do not mark these emails as “spam” or “trash” – that won’t stop them from coming. Unsubscribe from every single promotional email you receive, especially coupon, flash sale and auction sites, which are some of the most addictive shopping experiences.
- Give yourself a 24-hour cooling off period. Fill up your cart, like a fake binge, but don’t click “checkout.” Wait at least 24 hours. It’s a cooling off period; if you really need something in that cart then you can buy it but you got the binge out of your system. I suggest pinning the remaining items to your Pinterest board—more like an aspiration vision board of things you would like to purchase down the road when you have the money to do so. You can save up for these items over time, making your shopping thoughtful and not impulsive.
- Clear your cookie trail. Remember those shoes you were looking at online? And then days later, when you are on a completely different site checking your email or doing something for work, an advertisement for those same shoes just pops up, seemingly out of nowhere? Well, that’s not a coincidence. It’s a marketing tool. Those shoes are haunting you because of a little thing called cookies, in which marketers see you look at an item once and then follow you around the internet with targeted ads until you finally give in and buy them. So clear your cookies! Go to “preferences” or “settings” in your browser and click “clear history and website data.” Like magic, your browser forgets you ever wanted those shoes!
For more tips on how to curb your compulsive shopping habit, check out my recent segment on The Dr. Oz Show!