Amazon, Home Depot, and Target, oh my! Online spending spiked considerably during the 2020 pandemic and, while it has tapered off since, is still experiencing record highs. In fact, according to SupplyGem, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2022 were $262.0 billion.
According to NPR, 78% of shoppers shop online to avoid waiting in line.
It’s Real Cash
One of the reasons it is so easy to click “Buy Now” and type in your credit card information is that it just doesn’t seem real. Without physically counting out the cash, handing it over, and receiving just a few cents back in return or swiping the plastic, it does not feel like you are truly spending your money.
Essentially, it is much more difficult to conceptualize spending real paper money when you type in the numbers on the back of your credit card, especially if your computer has already saved your credit card information on there!
To make matters worse, consumers have been leveraging “buy now, pay later” applications to make flashy purchases which has led to record high debt, soaring 19% last quarter, among Americans. BNPL lending is forecast to reach over $90 billion in 2023.
Below are a few tips to help to make this problem a little better for you and to help minimize your online credit card spending and purchases.
Stop Saving Your Credit Card Info
It will amaze you how much more time you have to think about the purchase you are about to make and if you really need that item in the time that you have to spend getting up from your computer or phone, searching for your wallet, typing in the credit card information, and putting the card back in your wallet and back where it belongs. This means no more impulse buying from bed, the bathroom, or the car. It helps to make yourself aware of the cost.
Avoid Online Pressuring Tactics
It’s out there: online sellers and marketplaces utilize many tools, subliminal messaging, and tactics to make you purchase online. If you pay attention, many “flash sales” actually run a lot longer, if not indefinitely, than they are advertised for. In other cases, some websites have a time limit on how long an item can be in your shopping bag. This makes you feel a false urgency to buy it right away. More often than not, if something sells out, it will be restocked.
The best tip to avoid being pressured into purchasing something is to keep in mind that if you are not actively searching for something specific, do not purchase it! If you stumble across something cool but do not necessarily need it, it is not worth racking up more charges on your credit card.
Get Organized: Budget
It sounds cheesy, but setting a budget for your spending specifically for online shopping sets boundaries in your head. You can even open up a separate account with a specific amount of money in there (a secured card) or you can conduct placing a spending limit on your credit card. It is important to sit down and take a look at your income and how much you have available for online shopping.
Minimizing your spending on credit cards, in general, is a very wise way to manage your finances. As a general rule of thumb, you should not be spending money that you do not have unless it is a necessary cost. Dialing in your online spending will allow extra funds in your pocket and can help to ensure that you do not find yourself in debt.