Ease and convenience make internet shopping tempting but what can you do if it gets out of hand?
Online shopping makes it easier than ever to spend our hard-earned cash, and it can be a financially crippling experience for some. But that hasn’t stopped Australians engaging in it with growing enthusiasm.
With increasingly sophisticated mobile sites and discounts constantly popping into our inboxes, the temptation is almost unavoidable.
According to the National Australia Bank’s Online Retail Sales Index, we spent $17.5 billion in the 12 months to August 2015. This is equivalent to 7.1 per cent of the spending at traditional bricks and mortar retailers as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the 12 months to July 2015.
Retailers use social media to target consumers and the strategy appears to be working. Facebook fans spent almost 50 per cent more than those not on Facebook, according to data released by US shopper media company Collective Bias last year.
Sydney counsellor Michelle Laving runs Steps to Simplicity, which provides specialist education and treatment for those concerned about their shopping and spending behaviour.
She says that while for some, shopping can be good for self-expression and can provide temporary stress relief, growing numbers of people are developing problematic and even addictive shopping habits. These can negatively affect their financial health, relationships and psychological wellbeing.
“Everyone goes through periods of overspending from time to time, but most people are able to pull back after a splurge and get back on track with their spending or saving goals.
“However, people with an addictive and compulsive relationship to shopping will find themselves continuing the same behavioural patterns, despite the negative consequences.”
What can help?
- Understand your triggers such as mood, relationship stress and need for status and try to find alternative coping skills;
- Examine your finances, make a plan to pay off debts and identify which debts you should pay off first;
- When you do need to shop online, set a budget about how much you will spend and pay for your purchases with a debit card instead of a credit card; and
- If you’ve built up too much debt, a debt consolidation program might help you get on top of things and start afresh.
What are your money saving tips? Tell us in the comments below.