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How to control online spending

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:14 am

Buying online is a convenient way to make any number of purchases. Nowadays, shoppers can purchase everything from books to boats online, making it easier than ever before for consumers to connect with their favorite retailers.

But the convenience of online shopping also makes it easy to overspend. When shopping online, consider the following tips that should help curtail spending.

* Understand online marketing. Perhaps it’s so easy to shop online because it’s so easy for marketers to target customers via the Internet. Before “liking” anything on social media sites like Facebook, recognize that doing so is inviting marketers to inundate you with advertisements. This might be perfectly alright for some people, but those who want to control their online spending might think twice the next time they profess their love for certain products.

* Beware of “limited time only” deals. Online retailers attempt to entice men and women to buy products by offering “limited time only” deals through their Web sites. These deals can be for discounted items like clothing or electronics or more exotic offers like vacation deals to island resorts. While they might offer good deals, consumers who aren’t looking to buy a vacation package or a new wardrobe should ignore these offers no matter how enticing they might be.

* Include online spending when establishing a monthly budget. Online spending is often so convenient that many people fail to account for it when establishing their monthly budgets. Come the end of the month, if you have considerably less money than your budget suggests you should, peruse bank statements to see just how much of that money went toward online spending. It might be a lot or might be a little, but take it into consideration when laying out next month’s budget.

* Recognize it’s real money being spent. Buying online requires real money, but the convenience of online shopping, particularly when using sites that already have your financial information on record, makes it easy to overlook that real money is being spent. Instead of swiping a card at the store, you simply click the mouse a couple of times and you’ve made a purchase. This disconnect facilitates overspending, and consumers who fear they might be spending too much should stop saving their financial information on their favorite Web sites. This makes it harder to make a purchase but reduces the risk of making an impulse buy.