5 Ways the Internet Can Make You Blow Your Budget

Colleen Oakley

Like most working moms, I do most of my shopping online. Who wants to drag two screaming kids to buy paper towels at Target when I can buy them with the click of a button (and let my kids scream in the comfort of our own home)?

But that convenient one-click buying power has a dark downside—it’s too easy to go overboard. When I go online to buy my niece a board game for her birthday, I throw in a few best-sellers suggested by Amazon I’ve been dying to read (how did they know?).

Or when I innocently browse a ’60s pin-up bathing suit on ModCloth.com, it stalks me all over the Internet, taunting me with its perfect belly-ruching from the side of CNN or Jezebel until I inevitably have to buy it—even though I don’t have $80 in my budget for a swimsuit.

RELATED: The 50/20/30 Rule: How to Budget for Anything

But it’s not entirely my lack of self-control that’s to blame. Online retailers employ sneaky marketing tricks to get you to add more to your virtual shopping cart, leaving less in your all-too-real bank account. What’s a clicking consumer to do? Fight back with these strategies from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

1. The Problem: Your inbox is a retail wasteland of 24-hour flash sales.

Why: “Limited-time-only deals or deal-of-the-day-type offers create a sense of urgency among consumers who feel they need to take advantage of the offer before it expires, regardless of whether the item or service was something they specifically were searching for that day,” says Woroch.

What to do: Ignore, ignore, ignore. “Instead of jumping at every flash sale offer when they come to you, look for coupons only when it’s time to make a purchase,” she advises. That way, you’ll still get a deal—but only on things you actually need. You can access mobile coupons for free via the Coupon Sherpa mobile app or grab online promo codes from FreeShipping.org. You may actually want to create a separate email address (say, myshoppingtemptations@gmail.com) so you can save store coupons and deals in your inbox but not be tempted by them on a daily basis.

  • Laura

    I can’t help but notice that this article was linked in a LV email that also contained the article “23 Labor Day Discounts Not to Miss: Ready to shop over the long weekend? Save up to 60% at retailers such as Bluefly, Target, Gap and more.”

    Really guys?

    • kgal1298

      Thats hilarious. The email I got had the Money Mix Why I Stopped Taking Money From My Parents and then this. Ha love it. Just wait till the holiday season they will probably ad more discount deals.

    • Briana

      Learnvest is for both sides of the table. They are not saying to stop shopping online, just to be aware of the marketing ploys that retailers use to get you to spend more. I enjoy reading both the savings articles and the smart spending articles.