online shopping

3 Ways to Curb Your Impulse Shopping Online

Over the past few years, most of us have got used to shopping online. It doesn’t seem odd to us that some stores – Amazon most famously – exist only online, with no high street presence. And many of us buy everything from our groceries to our music on the net.

Online shops are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. Some purchases – music, ebooks, movies – can be bought and downloaded straight to your computer, at any time of the day or night. Is it any surprise that we often end up shopping by impulse?

You know how it goes. Perhaps you read a book review, click on a link to Amazon, and find yourself with that book in your shopping cart before you even pause to think. It takes mere seconds, and no more effort than a couple of clicks of your mouse, to buy something online. And although the shop is virtual … your money isn’t.

Here’s how to break free of impulse shopping online:

Make it Harder

Online shops make it as easy as possible for you to buy, with features like Amazon’s one-click ordering. If you find yourself shopping through Amazon or PayPal or some other site frequently, make the process harder for yourself.

You might, for instance, remove your card details from a particular site. You could change your password – and turn off the “remember me” feature so that you always have to remember your username and password when you login. You could sign up for a cashback site, and always go through that site before shopping: introducing a few extra clicks and a few moments’ thought could be all you need to break yourself of a bad habit.

For extreme online-shopaholics, try blocking certain websites on your computer: this prevents you going on Amazon or eBay “just to browse”.

Use a Wishlist

Instead of buying new books or DVDs as soon as they come out, create a wishlist on Amazon (or whatever site you use – many have this facility). This gives you a “cooling off” period to decide whether you really want to make that purchase … but it’s easy for you to find the product again later.

Wishlists are also a great tool if you have a birthday or other gift occasion coming up; family and friends may well be grateful for a very easy-to-use list of goodies which you’d really appreciate.

If you don’t want to use an online store’s wishlist facility, but you’re worried about forgetting or losing the items which you were planning to purchase, you can bookmark them using Delicious.

Write Down Your Purchases

Have you ever got to the end of a month and been rather surprised by your bank statement? Perhaps you found you’d done a bit more shopping than you realised, or that a few “little” purchases added up week after week…

One of the best ways to tackle this is to keep a spending diary. If online shopping is your only vice, you could just keep a diary for this: perhaps a notebook on your desk or a document on your computer where you jot down the date and time of any purchases – and where you also note what triggered that particular purchase (whether it was planned, or whether an email or website prompted you to buy).

Just writing things down like this helps you to assess whether or not you really want to buy something . The written record is also helpful if you’re trying to spot patterns: perhaps you tend to buy things when you’re bored in the evenings, or when you’ve had a stressful day at work.

Do you end up doing a lot of impulse shopping online? Do you have any stories to share, or tips to add?


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

10 Responses to 3 Ways to Curb Your Impulse Shopping Online

  1. Elisabeth says:

    Shopping online is risky enough, especially if it is an unknown store. that’s why I only trust Now, by the way, they have a coupon code for a discount. In order to avoid impulsive purchases, I first go through my wardrobe, throw out things that are already worn out, and make a list of things that I need for the season. As I did now, and only then did I go shopping.

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