Online Spending Traps to Avoid
The "I Was Tipsy!" Spree
In a Self.com poll, 33 percent of you said you sometimes shop after drinking. Worse, 17 percent of you have been so buzzed, you didn't even remember doing the buying. We all know vino loosens inhibitions. ("Gotta have that $300 bag!") And most websites make it so easy to buy—all it takes is one or two clicks—that you can navigate through checkout even if you can't see straight.
Shop as a guest whenever possible. By not registering (and having to reenter your credit card number and all your other info—without typos), you'll slow down the process enough to ask, Do I really need this?
The Hard-to-Resist Mind-Meld Ad
You're on Facebook when you notice an ad for something you truly want. (You just "liked" your home football team; the next day you see ads for team jerseys.) Thank automated ad-targeting systems, which "see" some of what you search for or post on social networks, making it a snap for sellers to place those ultra-customized ads that only the superhuman among us can ignore.
If you see an eerily in-the-know ad and feel the understandable urge to buy, even if you weren't planning on making a purchase, get up and stretch. Call a pal. Fine-tune your playlist. Post a status update. Tweet. After all that healthy distraction, if you still have the urge to buy that T-shirt, go right ahead.
The Pre-Caffeine Tsunami
Marketers know that one of the first things you do in the a.m. is (groggily) check your email, which could explain the flood of click-now-or-lose-your-chance offers. The pressure to buy fast means "you're more apt to make a shortsighted choice," says Nancy Puccinelli, Ph.D., a retail expert at the University of Oxford. That, and being undercaffeinated.
Put email from retailers you love in a folder; nix the rest. Read once you've had enough java/time to decode the fine print. And screw those limited-time sales. Whatever you're tempted to buy, chances are good it will be there tomorrow.
The Lazy-Girl Tendency
Admit it: It's a hassle to schlep those cute but painful shoes to UPS to return them. In another Self.com poll, 56 percent of you said you'd bought something online that didn't fit—yet you didn't send it back.