Giving up the hunt to acquire things you don’t need can be incredibly liberating. Use the tips below to curb, or even stop, your online shopping habit.

1. Schedule a Wake-Up Call

Time Management Computer Website Usage

How much time do you spend every day, or every week, shopping online? If you’re like most people, you have no idea.

The free app RescueTime tracks each website you visit throughout the week and gives you a report detailing how much time you spent on each site. For example, imagine that after a week, you discover you spent over four hours browsing on Amazon and eBay. Instead of online shopping, perhaps you could have used those four hours more productively – say, to exercise morespend quality time with your family, or even plan to start a new side business.

Tracking how much time you spend on specific websites can be an eye-opener, which is exactly what some people need to change their habits.

2. Block the Shops

Website Blocked Laptop Computer

Visiting a retailer’s website might give you a few minutes to unwind at work or during your kids’ naptime, but if you end up buying something you don’t need or can’t afford, it’s probably time to find a better way to relax. Thankfully, you don’t have to rely on willpower alone anymore. These apps can help:

  • LeechBlock. LeechBlock is a free app that works with the Firefox browser. You specify which websites you want to block and when to block them.
  • Freedom. Freedom is a productivity app that blocks your access to the Internet for a specified period. Freedom works with any device on any platform and costs $2.50 per month. According to the company, users report gaining an average of 2.5 hours of productive time every day thanks to the app. Successful writers, entrepreneurs, and the world’s largest companies use Freedom to remove distractions and get more done.
  • StayFocused. StayFocused is a free app that works with Chrome. Like LeechBlock, it enables you to block specific websites during specific times. However, StayFocused goes further by enabling you to block entire “genres” of websites. You can block yourself from watching any type of video, playing any type of game, or visiting any online retailer.

3. Remove Your Credit Cards

Credit Card Information Website Payment

If you’re like most people, you’ve entered and saved your credit card information on your favorite retailers’ sites so you can check out with the click of a single button. This makes it all too easy to plop something in your shopping cart and check out before you’ve really thought about the purchase.

Deleting all your saved credit cards means that when you want to make a purchase, you have to physically get up, get your wallet or purse, and then enter in your shipping and billing information. These few extra minutes, and the resulting annoyance, might be all you need to decide you don’t want to bother with the purchase at all.

Another benefit of deleting your saved credit cards is that it will reduce your risk of identity theft. Retailers are victimized by hackers all the time, and when a data breach occurs, you won’t have to worry about it.

4. Declutter

Organized Closet Wardrobe Efficient

What does the clutter you already own have to do with your online shopping habit? Perhaps a lot. According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, you’re more likely to make a purchase when you’re sitting in a disorganized room compared with a tidy room. You’re also likely to spend more on that purchase when you’re in a cluttered environment.

Researchers theorize that this has to do with your sense of personal control. In a cluttered environment, people often feel more out of control, and online shopping can help them regain that sense of power, if only temporarily.

If you want to curb your online shopping, take time to declutter and tidy up your home, office, or both. Decluttering allows you to grasp just how much “stuff” you really have. When you start going through your closets and drawers, you’ll see that you already have more than you need, and buying more isn’t necessary or practical. Looking closely at what you’ve already bought can be a valuable wake-up call.

Getting rid of excess items can also be a liberating and energizing experience. You might find that, as you get rid of things, you lose the desire to fill that space back up. It can reduce your anxiety, make you feel more creative, and perhaps even inspire you to live a simpler life.

As you go through each room, you might start feeling guilty or ashamed about the money you’ve wasted shopping online. Don’t. The wonderful part about being human is that, in each moment, you have the chance to start over and do better. And that’s what you’re doing right now: making a conscious choice to do better. The items you bought can be donated, which will help someone else live a better life. Focus on the positive steps you’re taking now and not what happened in the past.

5. Make Yourself Wait

Woman Checking Time Waiting Laptop Calculator

Many online shoppers make unplanned purchases when they see an item has gone on sale or something catches their eye while they’re “just browsing.” And while it’s fine to treat yourself once in a while, making frequent unplanned purchases can quickly affect your budget and lead to high credit card debt.

To slow yourself down, implement a mandatory waiting period before you buy something online. Some people make themselves wait at least 24 hours when they see something they want, while others hold off for 72 hours or longer.

You can also try this short-term waiting strategy: When you see something you want, put it in your shopping cart and then take a brisk walk outside or call a friend and tell them about it. Often, this will clear your head and help you realize you don’t really need it.

6. Unsubscribe

Subscribe Unsubscribe Emails Green Red

Retailers often promise a great one-time discount when you sign up for their newsletters. Sure, you save money that one time, but the downside is that now you’re on their marketing list, and you can count on multiple emails per week enticing you to buy more.

Take a few minutes to unsubscribe from all the retailer newsletters you receive. You won’t hear about their special sales or customer appreciation days, but you’ll have more money in your checking account.

Not knowing about sales can also lessen your competitive urge. People fear missing out on an opportunity and often feel compelled to buy something they perceive as “scarce,” such as an item that’s on sale. If you don’t know about an upcoming sale, you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

7. Save for What Really Matters

Piggy Bank House Green Savings Mortgage

Stop and think about what gets you the most excited in life. What’s the one thing you really want to do? For example, do you dream of owning your own home? Taking a trip to Paris? Giving more to charity? Going back to college?

Identify a life goal you want to accomplish and then put a picture of whatever it is on your desk, by your bed, or on your phone’s wallpaper. This picture will remind you that you’re saving and working toward something that’s more important, and more fulfilling, than another new pair of shoes.

Next, tally up how much money you spend each month shopping online. You can do this by looking at credit card statements from the past few months or using a service like Mint to track your spending for you. When you know how much you’re spending online, resolve to put 75% of that amount into a special savings account each month; this money will go toward your life goal. The remaining 25% is online “fun money” you can spend as you please.

Whenever you’re tempted to buy something online, take a moment and think of your life goal. Which is more important to you: that new coat or a week in Paris? Those new shoes or sending your child to college?

8. Bring Your Own Entertainment

Reading While Waiting Laptop Tablet Cellphone Doctors Office

Many people browse online when they’re bored. Perhaps you’re at the doctor’s office, waiting for your kids at school, or in a long line at the grocery store. All too often, this leads to random online browsing, which leads to an e-commerce site, where it’s tempting to buy something to alleviate your boredom.

To combat boredom shopping, always have some other form of entertainment with you. For example, keep a book you’ve been meaning to read in your car and pick that up instead while you’re waiting for your kids. Learn something new on YouTube. Read a poem at the Poetry Foundation. Carry a journal and write down some of your thoughts or concerns about the day. Listen to a great podcast or audiobook. Strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you.

In short, do something else besides opening the Web browser on your phone.

9. Shop Without Buying

College Girls Excited Online Shopping Together Laptop

In an interview with the BBC, Keonyoung Oh, an associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, says that we typically decide to purchase something in a split second, without rational thought. For many people, the adrenaline rush of shopping creates a high similar to that of drugs or alcohol, and it can be just as addicting.

One way to combat this is to give yourself the time and freedom to shop online like you always do, without actually purchasing something. The BBC reports that the decision to buy creates a rush of positive emotion, but you don’t have to actually buy an item to experience the same effect. Whatever you might normally covet and put in your shopping cart, go ahead and do it. But once you’ve filled your cart, instead of checking out, close your browser and walk away.

For some people, the act of shopping and putting items in a cart may be all they need to feel good. You get to experience the thrill of the hunt and the temporary feeling of ownership once items are in your shopping cart, which might be all you need to satisfy your online shopping urge.

Final Word

Online shopping can be both a curse and a blessing. Yes, it saves the time and hassle of in-person shopping, which is especially convenient if you have kids. However, many people frequently spend more than they planned, and more than they can afford, when they shop online. After all, Amazon never closes, and 24/7 access to the Internet can be a challenge when you’re trying to save money.

Simple strategies such as removing your saved credit cards and unsubscribing from newsletters can go a long way toward helping you avoid the temptation to shop. But the most powerful strategy to curb online shopping might be identifying a more meaningful use of that money, such as sending your child to college or giving more charity.

How do you feel about your online shopping? Is it a bad habit, or an occasional indulgence?