Curb Your Bad Online Shopping Behaviors with These 3 Simple Pointers


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107 billion dollars. It’s enough to pay for your college education many, many times over, travel the world and never go broke, or best Bill Gates as the second richest person in the world. According to Adobe, 107 billion dollars is also the amount of extra cash online retailers raked in during 2020, as people – including college students, such as yourselves – shopped online with the type of enthusiasm usually reserved for the holiday season 

If you’ve recently succumbed to all Amazon Wishlist desires, every Old Navy sale known to humankind, or those blow-out clearance events held by the likes of Nordstrom and Steam, then you know exactly what we’re talking about. It appears the pandemic has erased any sort of online shopping restraints we had before this unprecedented event occurred. And, who can blame us? Retail therapy gives us a quick boost of pleasure, and every time we click that “submit order” button, we see it as something that has surely made the last few months more bearable.  

Yet, while we’re all for a bit of much-deserved retail therapy, you must admit that the habit could seriously derail your financial goals, if you don’t start to curb these activities where you can. While purchasing your essentials online is a safe and cost-savvy way to shop during the pandemic, blowing cash on non-necessities can have big consequences, like increased debt and trouble paying bills. So, in the spirit of making healthy, informed online purchases, here are 3 pointers that will help you curb your online shopping behaviors, or at the very least, keep them in check. 

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Add to cart, then come back later.  

How many times have you stumbled upon a must-have skincare set or video game, only to buy it immediately, before thinking about whether you actually need the item or – more importantly – if you can really afford it? For many of us, online splurging begins with those heat-of-the-moment, impulse purchases that go unchecked. So, try delaying the gratification of your next purchase for a whole 72 hours, or 3 days. Allow yourself to shop online as you normally would, but instead of immediately smashing that “purchase” button, abandon your shopping cart for a few days. Don’t worry – online shoppers do this all of the time. Giving yourself some extra time to consider whether or not you truly need the item, or were only interested in it during an impulsive shopping binge, can help you separate true need from the thrill of an off-the-cuff purchase. 

Reframe the purchase price. 

As the old saying goes, “time is money”  which makes it crucial that you reframe your purchases in terms of price. Not sure what we mean? Well, let’s say those sought-after Nike sneakers you’ve been dying to get are 120 dollars. You might shrug off the price at first – after all, who makes better kicks than Nike but consider how much time it takes to make 120 dollars as a part-time employee, intern, or babysitter. Even if you’re raking in 20 dollars an hour at your gig, you’ll have to work whole hours to make enough money to purchase the shoes – and that’s before Uncle Sam takes his share of your paycheck. Whether or not you decide to move forward with your purchase is ultimately up to you, but calculating how much time you put into an expensive purchase could lead you to realize that you don’t need those new kicks so badly, after all.  

Check in with your emotions. 

We can all agree that 2020 has been a particularly challenging year, and for that reason, we can’t blame you if you’ve turned to online shopping or other, similar habits to cope with your emotions and indulge in a bit of stress relief during these trying times. However, sadness or anger about the state of the world –  or uncertainty about returning to campus during the middle of it all – is no excuse for extravagant online spending. The truth is, shopping only provides a temporary rush of endorphins, which tend to dissipate quickly after you receive your purchased item. In other words, that long-awaited Fenty Beauty shipment will sadly lose its luster after a day or two. So, instead of filling your emotional needs with purchases, seek out healthier ways to improve your mental state. Meditating, exercising, or even completing a fun DIY activity are all proven to help restore your sense of inner peace 

Online shopping is a habit familiar to many of us, and one that has only increased in popularity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that has left the majority of us stuck at home. Yet, if you’re spending more than you’re making, or finding that your retail therapy sessions aren’t doing the job for your mental health, this list of suggestions should help you kick the habit to the curb and make better purchasing decisions. The sooner you do, the healthier your mind and bank account will be.  

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Amelia Woolard is a graduate of Millsaps College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and an Art History minor. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Amelia moved to New Orleans in 2014 to begin her career in marketing and design. She is particularly interested in the intersection of art and language, and enjoys projects that merge the two fields. Amelia is an avid yet critical pop culture consumer and a loving mother to her cat Faulkner.

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