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My finger pulses over the “buy now” button. Blood rushing to my chest.
I tap the button confidently and my screen changes immediately to an order confirmation page.
An ease of satisfaction momentary sates me, before I travel to my email account and refresh it anxiously for tracking and shipping information.
This is an addiction.
The rush, the satisfaction, the anxiety. All the signs are there.
And now for the next 2 days I will glance ever so often (okay, incessantly) to my front porch, and I will refresh my tracking screen more times than I am willing to admit.
Why wouldn’t we though?
You would be hard pressed to NOT find something you want on the internet.
It’s always open, 24/7 and 365… holidays, weekends, middle of the night.
I can order something for my nephew’s birthday and he will have it delivered on time…. without leaving my couch. #auntoftheyear
- The hottest toys at the click of a button
- No trip to the store
- No purchasing of shipping materials
- No trip to the post office
- And most of the time it’s cheaper online
As you can see I am a firm believer and active participant in online shopping… but I’ve also learned that when shopping is so easy, it also makes it easy to spend more than you should!
Which leads to that nagging, oh-so-not-fun guilty feeling.
But, there is a way to enjoy guilt-free shopping. You can find new ways to save more when online shopping.
Here are my 7 tips for guilt-free shopping that won’t break your budget:
1. Pick it and Stick it!
I get it. budgets are hard! I can’t preach much here because I battle monthly with keeping all my ducks in a row and within a budget.
My way of staying in budget for guilt-free shopping is “pick and stick.” Pick a price range and stick to it!
There are tons of great blog posts out there about online shopping finds under $50 and under $100. It might take some more time to find exactly what you are looking for in your right price range, but who doesn’t love the hunt! And taking the time to look for deals will help you avoid guilt when online shopping.
Another great way to find guilt free deals and save more is to search for “open box” deals. A lot of major retailers like Best Buy offer this. Check out Amazon’s open box and used electronics deals.
Buying the same product for 30% less can help you feel good when online shopping and stop yourself from overspending.
2. Real Time Accountability
Credit companies are a profitable business, not a charity. No amount of waived fees, introductory offers or reward points can hide that.
Trust me, I know there are lots of enticing offers out there. What is better than being able to pay just a fraction of a large purchase over times? I GET IT!
I have done it and it seems so easy in my head. But most of the time it’s not just one purchase you put on a card.
And purchases add up. Those “fractions” add up each month and then you put the interest on top. One snowflake can turn into a blizzard VERY QUICKLY!
The good thing about debit cards it you see your money move in real time. You click purchase and the money is out of your account.
Credit cards can be deceiving making us think we have more money than we do! It’s so easy to rack it up and so hard to pay if off… Like really really really hard (I am preaching to myself here too!)
So if you want to experience guilt-free online shopping, don’t use a credit card to make your purchases.
3. Watch Out for Hidden Costs
Most shopping sites offer free shipping these days. Maybe not out of the gate but if you spend enough they will ship it for free. I have found my self justifying spending more on stuff I don’t need just to get free shipping.
Also watch out for return charges. Free shipping does not equal free returns! It might not seem like a big deal to lose $7 off an order here or $5 there, but it adds up over time.
Also, some electronic returns require a repackaging fee which can be a percentage of the cost of the product. That also adds up quick. Basically, just read the fine print, and then read it again.
**Quick Tip: Sign up for emails (but then hide them in your junk folder.) Everyday someone is sending me coupon codes or free shipping offers.
One of my favorite guilt-free online shopping tips to save money is to try putting something in your cart and then walking away! It’s funny how many times I put something in my cart and then leave and the next day I have a 20% off coupon in my inbox.
4. Buy Used Instead of New to save more
There are so many great sites out there now that offer gently used items at half the price. Poshmark, eBay, and Shopgoodwill are a few that I have had experience with but there are many more.
Buying a used item is a sure-fire way to avoid guilt when online shopping and increase your savings.
Here is my firsthand experience:
Good for specific things. Recently found a Ballard Designs throw pillow that matched a set I purchased in 2015. It was brand new with tags in the bag!
And at $30 it wasn’t a steal, but it was far cheaper than what I paid for its counterparts a few years ago.
My husband recently bought a set of golf clubs in eBay. It was a high dollar purchase, but they were exactly what he was looking for but at about $500 less than what he would have spent to purchase locally. That is some serious guilt-free online shopping!
** Quick Tip: Negotiate! Send the seller a message and see if they will accept a lower price. We have never paid asking price on eBay!
You can get lost in excess here, but as with eBay if you are specific you can find what you are looking for. I have purchased and sold here with great success.
I would say if you want to sell here stick to “occasion” items. I have had the most luck with selling fancy dresses and designer/brand name items here. And of course, selling items means extra money for guilt-free online shopping!
More Reading: What is the Yellow Reserved Flag on Poshmark?
I would say this is my diamond in the rough. I buy ALL my kid’s practically new North Face winter coats here and have never spent more than $20 a piece. Goodwill is a guilt free store for sure.
I recently bought myself a pair of tall Hunter rainboots that were brand new for $35!!! I’m sure you know, Hunter rainboots are normally like $150. Saving major money like definitely makes for guilt-free online shopping.
The only thing to watch out here is that not everything is labeled correctly so to find exactly what you want you must search multiple ways. (IE: Boys North Face, North Face, North Face Jacket, Kids Jackets.)
** Quick Tip – Shop your closet! Make new outfits from old clothes. It’s amazing what you have hiding in there if you just switch up how you wear it. Invest in basics that last, skip the fads!
5. Look at the Big Picture
Are you saving to buy a house? Planning a vacation? Paying off debt?
Small purchases add up quickly. I have no problem spending $20 on a new headband. Or $30 on that cute top, but that’s already $50 spent within five minutes.
Before you know it, those small purchases have become one large payment. For what you spent on those 10 low-cost items, you could have paid down $100 worth of debt or saved $200 for that beach trip you are dreaming of.
If you need some extra motivation for saving money for your goals, check out this article Why You Should Stop Buying Starbucks and Start Saving for Your Dream Instead!
To avoid guilt when you are online shopping, make sure you have the big picture in mind. If a purchase will interfere with your goals, then don’t make it. Or wait until it goes on sale.
6. Be Intentional
We all have those Target horror stories. Swing by for some toilet paper and walk out with $200 worth of stuff you didn’t really need or maybe even want.
The same thing can happen online. We see a cute outfit on an influencer on Instagram, we follow the link, we find that cute dress and then BOOM you are down the rabbit hole.
Your cart is full and you are broke! Everything is ALWAYS on sale, try and shop only when you need something. Find it, buy it and close that browser!
7. Log off!
Remove your credit card info from your shopping account. This is not only a good tip for security reasons but when that late-night shopping bug hits, it’s so easy to press checkout when everything is already there.
But having to get out of bed, go to another room, dig out your card, and insert the numbers might just give you enough of a pause to reconsider.
I have been practicing this for a while now and I promise I have never regretted waiting, if anything, waking up knowing I didn’t make the impulse purchase feels awesome!
There is nothing wrong with a little shopping, but following these tips can help you manage your budget and not end up feeling guilty or broke!
Happy hunting and no regrets!
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Here are my favorite budgeting and saving apps:
Acorns which takes your spare change from purchases and invests it for you to help you make even more money.
Personal Capital for money management. Get a money dashboard, free analysis and personalized wealth advice.