How to Stop Spending Money Online | 9 Tips and Tricks


Do you spend way too much time and money online?  If so, don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re not alone.

In today’s modern age of technology, spending money online is so easy. You click one button and 48 hours later your package arrives.

And while this is great from a convenience perspective, it can lead to an online spending addiction which can cause big problems in one’s life.

But hey, if you’re reading this article, you’re being proactive in reducing your online spending habits, so you’re already ahead of most!

Okay, enough talking let’s get into it, here are 9 tips and tricks to help you stop spending money online.

Remove Spending Apps from Your Phone

The first step in spending less money online should be to remove apps from your phone that you spend money on.

Big tech companies like Amazon are getting really good at organizing their platform and targeting their content to increase the value of their customers. In other words, to maximize their profits.

Not only that, but these apps make the purchasing process so easy. Like with Amazon, you can set up your account now so that you only need to click one button and your order is placed. 

You need to remove all these apps from your phone, they are bad! 

15 minute wait at the dentist? Ah yes, why don’t I just scroll through my Amazon Prime app, 6 puppy outfits later and I just spent $400!

I don’t know what spending apps you have on your phone, but whatever they are, get rid of them. 

Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, whatever it is, delete it! You’ll never need to buy something online so urgently that it can’t wait until you get to a computer.

Wait 24 Hours Before Making the Purchase

If you want to stop spending money online, try the 24 hour rule.

You know that exciting feeling you get when you see something online you want, well instead of buying it next time, wait 24 hours and see if the feeling has subsided. 

If it hasn’t, go ahead and make the purchase (if you can afford it), but you’ll be surprised how often that “OMG I NEED THAT NOW” feeling fades away.

Waiting 24 hours for something you really want can be difficult, but once you resist the temptation the first couple of times you’ll see how much this trick helps you reduce your spending habits.

Occasionally, your brain is just going to take over. Your excitement levels will be through the roof, you’ll be picturing yourself with this item you want to purchase and you’ll just end up buying it on the spot.

If this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Progress not perfection.

Avoid Therapy Shopping

Okay, we’ve all been here before. We feel like shit and we want to feel some of those sweet endorphins (happy chemicals) to help us feel better.

This is also often referred to as retail therapy, and while it might work in the short term, it is not a valid long term solution.

So when you are feeling down, depressed, anxious, sad or any type of negative emotion, stay clear of any online merchants.

Don’t look at your favorite online shoe store and don’t “just browse” your Amazon Prime app to see what new sales are being offered. There will always be more sales, now is not the time to see what’s out there.

Go for a walk, talk to a friend, hit the gym, read – anything that doesn’t involve online shopping.

In fact, shopping online when you feel crappy will just make things worse.  Yeah, you’ll feel a little better in the short term, but have you ever looked at something 4 or 5 months after you bought it and thought “wow, I am so glad I spent money on this when I was sad, my whole life turned around after that.” – said no one ever.

And listen, I’m not a doctor or a therapist, but I do know there are better ways to feel better when the world is looking a little grey. 

Unsubscribe from Promotional Emails

To stop spending money online, you have to set yourself up for success and avoid any trigger points that could result in you going on a spending spree.

Promotional emails for a lot of people are bad trigger points. You’ll just be sitting on the couch minding your own business and then bam, you’ll receive a 20% off coupon for the new handbag you’ve been wanting to get.

We all know what happens next, $300 down the hatchet and a new handbag is on the way.

Again, convenient? Yes.

Erratic and possibly irresponsible? Also, yes.

Unsubscribe to all these promotional emails to avoid these situations.

Think about it, this is like putting a pack of smokes in the pocket of someone who is trying to quit smoking, it’s just not going to work.

Make Sure Credit Cards Don’t Autofill

“Remember this Card?” – three famous words that have helped millions of people overspend online for the past 20 years.

You should never click this option when you are on an online merchants checkout portal. While you might think it’s no big deal and it’ll just help speed up your next transaction, it’s a trap to get you to spend more.

Additionally, many web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox have an autofill payment method option in the browsers settings page. This will prompt your credit card information for online stores that you are visiting for the first time!  Make sure you check this and ensure it is disabled. 

I’ve included some screenshots below to show you how you can do this with Chrome.

You see, as human beings, we hate friction. 

Having to type in a 16 digit code every time you want to buy something online is a friction point and a huge pain, and that’s exactly how it should be if you want to reduce your spending.

The more friction points you have in the purchasing process, the less likely it is you’ll buy something.

It’s like the tap option we now have with our debit and credit cards, it’s just so easy and painless, a quick tap and we’re all done. 

It doesn’t even feel like we’re spending money so we end up spending more than we normally would – don’t get suckered into these traps! 

What’s worse? Being flat broke because you spent $30,000 on clothes last year or being financially free with a few less dress shirts? 

I know what I would rather, I’ll type in my card number each time I need to buy something online, I don’t mind.

Unfollow Accounts that Promote Products on Instagram

If you’re anything like me, you spend way too much time scrolling through Instagram. It is so addicting! 

Not only that, but Instagram now has an Instagram shopping feature where people can buy products right through the app itself. Ugh, why is everything so easy nowadays!

Unfortunately though, Instagram can be a dangerous trigger for some people that spend too much money online. Especially for those people who follow accounts that are constantly promoting products.

Similarly to receiving promotional emails, one moment you’ll just be sitting there minding your own business scrolling Instagram to find cute dog memes, and then bam, $300 later and now you have new running shoes.

You see, social media platforms are smart. They know what’ll make us tick. They know how to show us content that we’ll engage with.

Just liked a video on Instagram of a baby laughing? Great, here are 10 more of them. 

Just bought a new pair of running shoes through Instagram? Great, here are socks, shorts and tee shirts to go with your new shoes.

While this is great from an entertainment standpoint, it can be very dangerous from an addiction and consumption perspective.

So if you find that your online shopping demons begin to show themself as you scroll through Instagram, unfollow the accounts that trigger you or delete the app all together!

Set a Monthly Online Spending Budget

Creating a monthly budget to control your online spending habits is a great idea for people who spend too much money online.

Again, we want progress here starting out, not perfection.

Starting today, get an average of what you’ve spent online each month over the course of the last 6 months. 

Whatever that amount is, reduce it by 40% and make that your online spending budget for the following month.

Once you achieve this goal (which you will), reduce your amount by another 20%. 

Then on month 3, reduce this amount by another 10%. 

While this isn’t easy at first, once you create these budgeting goals, you’ll feel way more motivated to spend less money online. It’s hard to explain why, but you just will.

Goal setting is very powerful that way. 

What I recommend doing after month 3 is continually reducing your online spending budget by 10% each month until it reaches a point where your budget lines up with what you can afford.

Don’t move to the next step until you accomplish the previous month’s goal.

This might sound weird, but once you get into this, you might find it fun! 

Achieving goals, whatever they are, is an amazing feeling – so make sure you set them!

There are a lot of great budgeting apps out there that can help you create budgets and track your spending.  

I personally recommend Mint and give an overview of the free app here. 

Setup Website Blockers

Another trick to help you stop spending money online is to block sites that burn a hole in your pocket.

There are a ton of great browser extensions available today that can help us avoid websites we don’t want to be on.

Or should I say, want to be on, but shouldn’t be on. 

This article here by Freedom.to gives us a list of 8 website blocker applications that you can download if you want to block certain websites from your computer.

I don’t know why I left this tip for so far down the list, because I actually think it is one of the most practical tricks you can do to reduce your online spending.

Look at your visa or bank statements and see what online merchants are taking all your money, block these websites! 

Some of these site blocking applications cost money, ignore them. Find one that is free and go with that. 

Stayfocused seems to be a very popular one with over 600,000 users.

All of these applications also give you the ability to set timers or specific times of the day when you can use your blocked websites. I wouldn’t get too cute with this, go cold turkey on the websites you shouldn’t be on and avoid them all together.

This is all about creating more friction for you in the buying process. Remember, for some things, like overcoming a bad habit –  the more friction the better! 

Cut up Your Credit Cards

If all else fails, cutting up your credit cards is a sure fire way to make you stop spending money online.

If you have nothing to make the online purchase with, you physically can’t buy anything! 

Unless of course you steal someone else’s card. We don’t recommend doing that.

But if things get really bad and you just can’t seem to stop your online spending habits, we do recommend cutting up your credit cards!

How to Stop Spending Money Online

It’s a scary thought I know, but it is a very liberating feeling. I personally haven’t had a credit card for over a year now, and I can say with 100% certainty that I am happier because of it.

Not only have I spent less money online, but I’ve just spent less money in general.

Statistics show that people spend more money when they make purchases using their credit cards.

With that said, I do have a Visa-debit card, which does allow me to make purchases online similar to a credit card, but the difference is the money comes out of my chequings account. So I have to have the money in my account for the transaction to go through. Key difference.

But if your online spending is really out of control, don’t even use a Visa-debit, eliminate all possibilities of spending your money online and stick to a simple debit card.

If you don’t think you can do this, just do me a favour and try it out.

Try it out for 30 days, give your cards to a family member and live credit card free for 30 days. This doesn’t mean no spending, but it does mean no online purchases.

Do this for 30 days and then see how you feel after the 30 days is up. Will your happiness be negatively impacted at all? I am willing to bet that it won’t be.

If anything, I predict you’ll be happier in knowing that you won’t have a huge credit card bill on the way. I have said this before but I’ll say it again, things don’t make us happier.

Yes, we should all treat ourselves with things we want, but it has to be in a responsible manner, if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t buy it. 

Unfortunately though, credit cards don’t care about what we can and can’t afford, the more we spend on their dime, the better.

Cut’em up!! 

Conclusion

So there it is. 9 tips and tricks to help you stop spending money online.

To recap, here they are again:

  1. Remove Spending Apps from Your Phone
  2. Wait 24 Hours Before Making the Purchase
  3. Avoid Therapy Shopping
  4. Unsubscribe from Promotional Emails
  5. Make Sure Credit Cards Don’t Autofill
  6. Unfollow Accounts that Promote Products on Instagram
  7. Set a Monthly Online Spending Budget
  8. Setup Website Blockers
  9. Cut up Your Credit Cards

Remember this, spending money online is not necessarily a bad thing.

But overspending money online and buying things with credit when you can’t afford them can be very harmful to your financial and psychological well-being.

It’s like a drug addict using drugs to make them feel better, in the short term things are great, but in the long term, things are just getting worse.

So if you find yourself overspending online, whether it’s serious or not, try some of these tips and tricks and see what happens.

And hey, I’m there are a lot of other things you can do as well. But at the end of the day, it’s all about reducing your trigger points and increasing the friction between you and that “Place Order” button.

I hope you’ve found some value in this article, and of course, if things get really out of control and you don’t know where to turn, seek professional help.

Thanks folks! Time to go shop…on a walk.

Geek, out.

Noel Moffatt

Noel Moffatt is the founder and main contributor for his blog - The Financial Geek. Based in Canada, Noel's passion for personal finance has helped him amass over 300k readers to his Financial Geek blog.

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