It’s so convenient. At the click of a mouse, we purchase from a plethora of items on the internet- clothes, beauty products, groceries, furniture- and it gets delivered straight to our door in a matter of weeks. No need to step foot outside the house, no need to fight with other aunties over sale products.
Online shopping is wonderful, but we always tend to spend more than we should. Studies have shown that we grossly underestimate our online spending by half (aka we spend much more than we think we do). Here’s why.
1. You don’t feel your money leave you
When you go to a brick-and-mortar store and spend your hard-earned cash, you physically feel it being relinquished. You feel the money leave you forever. It pains your heart quite a bit.
But online, you just click. And click. And click. That’s it. You don’t really feel the money leave you, just the joy of spending and looking forward to the parcel that will arrive at your door soon. The numbers on your bank account statement at the end of the month somehow seem farther away and less tangible. The numbers are lower, and you can’t quite figure out how it got there.
2. Sales are pegged to a certain date
In recent years, 11/11 (Singles’ Day) and Cyber Monday have become massive online events in recent years. In 2018, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales hit $30.8 billion in 24 hours.
Dr April Benson, shopping addiction therapist and author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop, says: “These holidays feed on herd mentality, where everybody is rushing to shop because there’s all this hype.”
So we load our online baskets with tons of things, hoping to score sweet deals on a whole bunch of stuff.
People need to be asking themselves, ‘is it really true I won’t get these deals any other time of year?’”Benson, in an article for Vox
Sometimes the prices are indeed slashed, but most of the time the deals will likely reappear throughout the year anyway. (We have the Great Singapore Sale period, and after-season sales. No need to scramble for special holiday deals).
3. Free shipping, or discounts, with a certain amount
There are so many sites that offer you free shipping, or discounts, with a minimum expenditure. But this often makes you buy more items to fulfil the quota in order to get that free shipping, causing you to buy more than you originally intended. You wind up spending more money anyway, compared to just buying what you wanted (with the shipping).
According to Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert (in an email to Business Insider), “Most people would rather spend more money buying things they don’t need than pay for shipping costs.”
4. Promotional emails and newsletters
Upon visiting an online retailer’s website, you’d usually get a little pop-up screen offering you discounts if you sign up for their email newsletters. That might be useful in helping you save initially. However, the subsequent emails you receive are meant to make you bleed money.
“The bombarding promotional emails are designed to get you to shop, ” Woroch says.
E-newsletters offering things like “one day only” sales are coercing you to visit a site to score a deal even when you might not necessarily need anything.
5. You tend to buy things you don’t need
While you’re purchasing that lovely new CNY dress, more often than not, brands will recommend other products to you, for example “people who bought _____ also bought this”, enticing you to click on another product you might potentially like.
This is just one of the ways brands try to get you to browse and buy more. Other methods are clearance sales- we are all guilty of buying things just because they’re cheaper, not because we actually need them.
Enjoy your online shopping, folks- just be careful of your spending, and make sure you’re not amassing things you don’t actually need!