Last month was a whirlwind month for online shopping, between 4th of July sales and Amazon’s infamous “Prime Day.” Odds are many of us were part of a massive group that spent $12.7 billion in the United States, as reported by Adobe Analytics for this year’s Prime Day. I know I contributed my fair share to Prime Day shopping. A couple of days later, I returned quite a few of the items I bought when I realized it was not the opportunity I thought it was, even at a discount. How many of us have experienced buyer’s remorse? You are not alone, my friends and fellow online shoppers. Leave it to your resident millennial financial planner to spill the mindful spending tea in today’s blog.
As many of us are scrolling through endless pages with quite possibly every product that has ever existed, maybe there is a way where we can hack our own online shopping and be intentional with our spending.
1. Take your time.
The best part about online shopping is that you can do it from the comfort of your home. You are not in a store, fighting through the crowd and taking the scraps on the sale rack. Take your time and read the reviews. Search the item on Google’s shopping tab and see if somewhere else is selling it at a better price. Some shoppers have found that if you leave your product in the cart for 24 hours, sites will send you a coupon code to entice you to buy it. Saving you more of those hard-earned dollars! If the size or color that you wanted sells out, I am sure they will restock whenever the next sale comes along. Believe me. This is not the last sale in existence.
2. Put your purchases on trial.
Think of yourself as an attorney presenting to the jury why you should click that “Proceed to Check Out” button. That would be a super weird trial and probably a waste of taxpayer dollars, but I digress. Critically consider what you are buying by asking questions like this:
“How will I use this purchase?” or “How many uses will I get from this product?”
“Does this solve a current problem I have?”
“What is the return on investment?”
“What is the typical price range of this product?”
“Is this sale really a discount compared to the average price?”
“What is the cost per use of this item?”
“Is this price within the amount that I budgeted for my shopping this month?”
“Does this product or company support ideals that are important to me?”
“Can I buy this product or something similar from a small business or local shop that supports my community?”
“Does this take away funds from somewhere in my budget that is solving a more pressing issue?”
3. Go back to your “why.”
Stop and take a moment to remember your financial goals. Maybe one of those was saving for a house down payment, paying down debt, or contributing to a Roth IRA. Do these short-term purchases affect or take away from your long-term plans? Why are you spending? What are three things you’re grateful for in that moment? By appreciating what you already have, maybe you will find what you were looking for wasn’t really something that could be put in an online shopping cart.
While many financial advisors love to talk about saving and investing, spending is a big part of the financial picture that we cannot afford to ignore. Do not let a sale that is fleeting derail you from your ultimate financial goals. Remember, you got this! You can test out these mindful spending hacks on the next big sale!