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Woman is impulse shopping on her laptop with a latte in her hand.

How to Quit Online Impulse Shopping (And What to Do Instead)

Impulse shopping is so easy to fall into when it’s 3 am and your credit card is right next to your couch.

But, sometimes we have to quit shopping so that we can reduce our expenses and save money instead. Maybe your emergency fund needs to be fluffed up, or there’s a financial goal that you’re trying to meet a little further down the road.

We all fall into good and bad habits without realizing it. Some people can quit shopping cold turkey, but some people need help to control impulse shopping, and that’s okay. The good news is that impulse shopping is a habit and one that can be broken.

Why Do We Impulse Shop?

The simple answer is that we impulse buy to feel good. It gives us a rush of adrenaline and the feeling of receiving a gift. We live in a consumption culture that encourages us to buy and that’s what we do.

The reason that the impulse shopping habit formed in the first place is because buying new things online produces feelings of happiness, anticipation, and excitement. Waiting for a new shirt to arrive in the mail gives you something to look forward to. And opening a big brown shipping box feels like opening a gift from yourself to yourself. There’s also the FOMO (fear of missing out) if you don’t keep up with the crowd and have the latest items and trendiest looks.

This habit can be toxic for us because of the two feelings associated with it.

  1. The mental barrier-free desire to spend money on things we don’t need. (This impulse can be harmful in general.)
  2. The regrets we feel after when we look at our credit card bill or cluttered living space.

Many people impulse shop when they stressed, intoxicated, or bored. A great discount is all it takes for these emotions to turn into impulse shopping. This is all amplified by the increasing amount that people are choosing to shop online instead of in-store. The ease is the final strike since online shopping means that we don’t have to go anywhere or carry anything home, it arrives at our doorstep.

So, How To Stop Impulse Shopping?

So how do we stop? How do we dissociate these feelings with the need to buy and walk away from our computers instead of hitting “submit.”

1. Be present

By the time we’re aware of our problem with impulse shopping, we’re already dealing with the consequences. It’s frustrating to feel like you work so hard but somehow have less money than we’d like or need. Instead of blaming ourselves or wishing for the hundredth time that we’d quit shopping, we can start addressing the problem.

This begins when we are being fully present and paying attention to what we are doing at any given moment.

Learning to be mindful is the first step to learning how to quit online shopping. Mindfulness helps us to be fully present and aware of what we’re doing and what is going on around us. The ability to be mindful is something that everyone possesses, and the more we practice, the better we get at it.

2. Notice without judgment

We aren’t always paying to the thoughts and feelings we experience while online impulse shopping. This is because we aren’t being mindful. Instead of browsing household items or clothing sales online, we could pay attention to the fact that we are likely feeling bored and looking to feel happy and excited.

Being mindful of those thoughts and feelings means noticing them without judgment. The urges that come with impulse buying are real. Instead of trying to deny them, or giving in, pay attention to the feeling and notice where it sits in the body.

See if you can let the feeling pass without giving into the urge to add items to your cart. Training your brain to be mindful, is actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain to replace costly habits with newer, better ones.

There’s also a major bonus here: You begin to shed the urges of the ego and become more in-tune with your soul. What do you really need? It’s probably not that new and trendiest shirt. It might be that you need to get outside more or schedule more calls with friends - or even move a bit more. Find other ways to reward yourself (they are there! You just have to find ‘em).

3. Embrace your inner minimalist

Okay, we’ve all fallen down the Amazon rabbit hole. You just needed to buy a lamp, but now your cart has $300 worth of stuff that you’re convinced you absolutely need. Yet, it is possible to take control of your online impulse buying and quit shopping.

In fact, looking at the impacts that impulse shopping has on your life is a good place to start. What can you do to minimize your life and reduce your risk of giving into your online impulse shopping urges?

4. Reduce expenses

Look at your monthly income and expenses, and pay attention to exactly what you’ve spent money on. It’ll feel frustrating at first, but looking at your credit card statement can be an eye-opener.

When you realize how much money you’re spending on clothes that look like the ones you already have, you’ll want to quit shopping right away. It just isn’t worth the financial panic or stress.

Related Article: Becoming Financially Literate in the Digital Age

5. Reduce the amount of stuff you have

Learning how to quit online shopping means more than understanding the financial consequences of your spending. It also means realizing that you don’t need 12 pairs of similar-looking pants or another set of dinner plates. We could all benefit from adding a minimal dose of minimalism to lives. Learning to quit online shopping really means learning to be okay with buying and having less. Because really, we don’t need as much of anything as we think we do.

6. Declutter your closet

Instead of impulse shopping, go through your closet (or garage or pantry) and sort through what you already have. This will help you realize that you already have too much stuff (guilty!) and that you don’t need any more of it.

Try to organize what you already have into items that you want to toss, donate, and keep. Embrace the space you’ve created for yourself, and sit with the peace of knowing that you didn’t need all that extra stuff to begin with. And hey, you might even notice a weight lift off your shoulders in the process!

Get Started Today: Spring Cleaning - Let’s Spark Joy!

7. Replace old habits with new ones

Dealing with impulses feels challenging and annoying at first, but there are so many mindful and productive habits that could help you quit shopping. Whenever you feel the urge to give into impulse shopping, remember that you’re trying to quit shopping! Maybe instead you could:

8. Mindfully brew and drink a cup of your favorite drink

Whether you’re a tea or coffee person, this is generally a good habit. Stay present in the act of boiling the water and preparing your beverage while the urge to impulse shop passes. Over time, this will help you stay in the habit of being present.

Alternatively, take some time to grab a glass of water.

9. Switch tabs

If you’re already on the computer and fighting the urge to impulse buy, why don’t you cross an online task off of your to-do list instead?

Clear your inbox or pay a bill online to do something productive instead of impulse shopping. Trust us - you’ll feel way more productive and way less guilty by doing so.

10. Try a meditation or exercise app

If you’re bored on your phone and browsing online, stop yourself and switch to a more soothing or energizing task. Open your favorite meditation app and do some deep breathing and practice creating space between your impulses and your actions.

If you need more movement, try a fitness app and get the blood flowing with a new and exciting workout.

11. Relax your body

Before you click “add to cart” try stretching your shoulder and neck muscles instead. Odds are, your shoulders were slumped and your jaw was clenched while you were shopping. Instead of treating yourself to more stuff that you don’t need, give your body some much-needed love and stretch your shoulders and neck.

Again, you’ll feel that much better for this!

Ultimately: Walk Away

Sometimes you have to realize when it’s time to walk away. With impulse shopping, it means putting your phone down, closing the browser, or leaving the store.

Learning how to quit online shopping isn’t a linear road, and like with all addictions, there will be some battles that you’ll lose. By learning how to quit online shopping, you’re really embracing a new self-journey. You are putting yourself on a path to a more intentionally lived life where you are content with spending less on what you don’t need.

Continue Your Wellness Journey: Conscious Consumption: Be Free, Not Owned

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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