I ♥ shopping online.

As a Lifestyle Optimist, simplifying how I spend my time is super important to me.

In the last few months I have experimented with online shopping to cut down on wasted time. Driving through Toronto traffic? Waiting in lineups? No thanks!

I buy almost everything online now, including my weekly groceries, WalMart hauls, and most recently (almost) all of my holiday gifts. I have reclaimed SO MANY hours every week from this simple shift. Grocery Gateway alone has given me back at least three hours each month!

Online shopping is one of the most effective (and fun!) things I have started doing in 2016 to create more time for myself. But, while it might be awesome for my schedule, it can be dangerous for my bank account.

Here’s why.

Removing friction from the shopping process makes it that much easier to spend money.

The bigger the gap between the pleasure of acquiring something and the pain of paying for it the more likely we are to spend. Having access to your credit card with the click of a button makes it almost painless to purchase – until you get the bill. Ouch.

Shopping, online and IRL, isn’t a problem in and of itself. It becomes a problem when you spend more than you earn, and can quickly grow from a one-time splurge to a nasty habit. Most of us know that we shouldn’t be financing our sprees with credit but we still do it.

So why do we spend more than we earn?

Many reasons, which generally fall into these three categories:

  1. Poor planning. Not knowing how much you can afford to spend on certain things. Either because you don’t have a plan, or you have one but don’t use it.
  2. Consumerism. Buying stuff to feel happier. But that happiness is fleeting (something I wish I knew when I was 22).
  3. Compulsive behaviour.  AKA shopaholism a la Rebecca Bloomwood.

give-me-the-boots

Don’t be a Becky! (Bloomwood, that is)

Why? Because spending less than you earn is the single most important habit that ensures your financial success. I’ve learned this the hard way. Even though I brought in a generous salary as a CPA, I never felt like I had “enough” money. The more I earned, the more I spent. That’s how habits work.

Kicking the habit

It is possible to enjoy a healthy amount of shopping without draining your bank account. With some trial and error I’ve figured out what works for me.

Start with a plan

The best way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to start with a plan. Whether I’m shopping online or in a store I always make sure I have a list before I begin.

I even go as far as to pause before I enter a store / open my laptop, take a breath and remind myself “I’m buying ONLY the things on my list, and it’s gonna be fun!”.

It may sound silly to talk to yourself, but I know that I am easily tempted with impulse purchases. My discipline muscle works best when it’s been warmed up with this gentle affirmation.

Be intentional

If you find something you want that’s not on the list – don’t panic! You don’t have to say “no” to the item forever, just for now. I use this to keep track of all my wishes and manage my shopping impulse.

There’s a lot of pleasure to be had in taking your time with purchasing decisions. Enjoy the whole process of

  • discovering something new,
  • considering how it fits into your life (what purpose does it serve? does it spark joy?),
  • anticipating buying it, and finally
  • having it arrive!

Shopping intentionally in this way is much more fulfilling than buying on a whim.

Schedule your shopping

It may sound boring but predictability has been the key for me to tame my shopaholic tendencies. I find it easier to say “not now” when I know that there’s another shopping opportunity coming up in the near future.

For me, bi-weekly online shopping works best. It’s frequent enough that I rarely need to make an unplanned trip to the store and leaves enough buffer time for me to think through a purchase to make sure it’s in line with my values and goals.

Ready to start your holiday shopping?

If you’ve struggled with last-minute shopping and overspending during the holidays, or if you just love cute planning templates, do I have a treat for you!  Download my Holiday Spending Plan workbook to get intentional about your holiday shopping.

It includes space for:

  • Reflecting on last year and deciding how you want to feel this year
  • Setting goals with dollar amounts
  • A shopping list and place to track your spending
  • A holiday card (or email) list to keep you connected with family and friends

This is the exact workbook that I am using to plan for the holidays this year. So far it’s been my most peaceful and enjoyable December yet!

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