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11 Ways to Break Bad Online Shopping Habits

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We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through your social media feed, and you see an ad from your favorite online store. They’re having a sale, and you just can’t resist. Before you know it, you’ve added ten items to your cart, credit card in-hand, and ready to check out.

Unfortunately, while an occasional splurge isn’t so bad, making impulsive online shopping a habit is terrible for you (and your wallet).

Here, we will discuss several ways how you can break bad shopping habits. If you’re looking for some useful tips on how to stay disciplined when shopping online, keep reading.


1. Use a Budget Tracking App

One of the best ways to break bad online shopping habits is to use a budgeting app. In general, budgeting apps are great in terms of putting your spending habits in perspective.

For example, you can see the percentage of your income you’ve used on shoes, compared to your savings. With the right budgeting app, you can keep track of your spending and make sure that you always stay within your budget.

Related: Beyond Budgeting: Useful Apps to Manage Your Money

Thankfully, there are a number of different budgeting apps that can help you manage your money, so you have numerous options to choose from that fits your needs.

Another great way to break bad online shopping habits is to always use lists. Similar to how people would have grocery lists before going to the supermarket, a shopping list app can keep you on track even when ordering online.

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iPhone Shopping List

With shopping list apps, you can easily keep track of the items that you actually require versus the items that you only want. Whether you are an Android or Apple user, there are apps which can simplify shopping for groceries without missing any of the important ingredients.

3. Set a Time Limit

If you’re trying to break the habit of impulse buying, one way to do it is by setting a time limit. This will help keep you from spending too much time browsing through items that you don’t need.

Decide how much time you’re going to spend shopping online each day, and stick to it. For example, you can simply set 10 to 15 minutes a day wherein you allow yourself to open any shopping app.

However, if you don’t have the discipline to do this by yourself, there are other options. If you’re an Apple user, you can use the Screen Time feature to cut down on your overall shopping app or website usage.

4. Use a Browser Extension

Alternatively, if you’re having trouble staying away from window shopping on different websites during boring meetings, you can consider using a browser extension.

Related: The 10 Best Chrome Extensions for Avoiding Online Distractions

Most browsers will have extensions which can help you stay focused by blocking certain websites, eventually preventing you from adding items to your cart.

If you’re having trouble staying disciplined when online shopping, consider creating a separate email address for online purchases. This will help you keep track of your spending because you will be able to see all the digital receipts of your purchases in one place.

After all, there’s nothing like seeing 30 rows of Amazon receipts in your email to keep you from adding one more.

6. Use a Rewards App

Undoubtedly, not everyone can manage to live without having shopping apps on their phones. If you really need to buy things online, there are various apps which allow you to earn rewards for buying things that you would have bought anyway.

Once you see the rewards points go up, you can be more mindful about how much you’ve spent to earn them. In addition, you can use the rewards points you’ve racked up from buying essentials to reduce the costs of items you buy to treat yourself.

Many online stores have a shopping cart feature that allows you to save items for later purchase. Usually, this feature is helpful if you’re uncertain if you want an item, or if you’re waiting for a sale.

Item in Basket Screenshot

However, you can also use the shopping cart as a way to know how much you’re planning to spend on a store each month. For example, you can continue to add things to your cart, but only check out once a month. With this, you’ll be able to look at every item and the overall amount you are going to spend.

If you’re trying to break the habit of online shopping, it’s a good idea to disable notifications from shopping apps on your phone. This will help keep you from being tempted by sales and deals, especially when you don’t actually need.

Turn off iPhone notifications

Often, shopping apps will try to give you a false sense of urgency through notifications, which leads to unnecessary purchases. By removing them, you only open apps when you are actually searching for something necessary.

If you’re really struggling with online shopping, it might be helpful to delete all the shopping apps from your phone. While many shops also have websites, they’re typically not built to cater to the same level of impulsiveness as apps.

For many people, it can be tempting to mindlessly scroll through shopping apps as a way to de-stress. However, it’s important to understand that you are more vulnerable to impulse shopping when you’re not in the right frame of mind.

By removing highly engaging shopping apps from your device, you limit the amount of access brands have when it comes to your attention.

10. Sell Second-Hand Items Online

If you’re struggling to break the habit of online impulse buying, one way to do it is by selling the items that you have barely used. In the process of identifying things to sell, you can evaluate how many things you actually own versus what you really use day to day.

Man taking photo of a plaid shirt for online selling

There are numerous online marketplaces where you can sell your unused items, and this can be a great way to make some extra money.

For example, you can sell second-hand items are your local flea market, post in marketplaces on Facebook, list the item on eBay, or make a decluttering Instagram page. Plus, it feels pretty good to declutter your home and get rid of things that you don’t need!

Often, social media can be a major source of temptation when it comes to buying things impulsively. By limiting the amount of time that you spend on social media, you can be more mindful about the posts that you’re seeing.

If you find that a particular social media account is causing you to impulse buy, consider deleting or unfollowing it. This will help keep you from being tempted to try to keep up with others.

Online shopping can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to stay disciplined when shopping online. With these tips, you can stay on track and avoid unnecessary impulse buys.

​​​​​​​Remember, online shopping should be a fun and convenient experience, not a way to rack up debt!


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