7 Tricks That’ll Help You Waste Less Money Online

Joel Lee 30-05-2016

Online shopping is a double-edged sword; on one hand, Amazon is a life-changer The Amazon Shopping Guide This free Amazon shopping guide outlines everything you need to know to make the best use of Amazon and secure the best deals. Read More , especially once you take advantage of all the benefits of Prime 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You've Probably Overlooked Free two-day shipping is just the beginning. Here are some notable Amazon Prime subscription benefits you may not know about. Read More . On the other hand, it makes it too easy to overspend on frivolous items Do You Think Twice About These Online Shopping Traps Before You Buy? Retailers and marketers are using cutting-edge behavioral psychology to get you to buy their products, whether you need them or not. Do you know how they're targeting you? Read More .


That’s why we’re going to explore a few tricks you can use to beat your bad spending habits Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More . In other words, this is a post for those who have a spending problem. If these tricks seem drastic, it’s because they are. But if you’re spending too much online, you need to take action. Here’s what to do.

1. Kill All Daily Deal Emails

If you’re a frequent online shopper, then you’ve probably signed up to a number of daily deal emails in the past. These emails are useful — who doesn’t love a good deal? — but they’re also manipulative.

Most of us aren’t thinking about online shopping every minute of the day. We go to work, we take care of our kids, we hang out with friends. The shopping urge is usually latent. But as soon as we spot a good deal, the urge strikes in full force.

Daily deal emails are awesome, but only if you have the self-control to be judicious about what you buy and how much you spend. Without that self-control, daily deal emails are little more than triggers that spur us to shop, shop, shop.

Unsubscribe from all of those newsletters and notifications. Use a bulk unsubscription tool Clear Out Your Inbox: Quickly Unsubscribe From Multiple Newsletters With These Tools Unsubscribing from newsletters is about more than just spam. Most of the newsletters that fill our inbox are not selling medicine or offering prize money – they’re genuine newsletters from trusted companies we ourselves subscribed... Read More if you can. In this case, “out of sight, out of mind” is the way to go.


2. Unsave Payment Details

Few innovations have been as damaging to personal bank accounts as the one-click purchase feature that exists on most major shopping sites. Now you can buy things without even thinking about it, and that’s simply no good.


Again, these kinds of convenience features are awesome if you can exercise self-control. If you can’t, then they’re just ways for you to be exploited. Convenience is not worth paying for when it sucks your wallet dry.

Log onto Amazon and eBay and whatever other sites you use and remove all of your saved credit cards and PayPal details. Every extra hurdle to checking out can prove helpful.


3. Always Debit, Never Credit

Credit cards are devils in disguise. Want to have financial peace in your life? Stop spending money you don’t have! The lure of credit is one reason why so many people are stressed out and drowning in debt How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More .

If you have an online shopping problem, commit to never using a credit card. This is the online equivalent of only using cash — you can only spend whatever you have in the bank and nothing more.

You’d be surprised how effective this can be.



To clarify, credit can be a good thing. But as with all good things, it can be abused — and if it’s abused, credit can destroy your life. If you’re reading this, then you probably have first-hand experience of what that feels like.

By only using debit and never using credit, you’ll never have to worry about struggling to pay off racked-up consumer debt How to Visualize Your Debt & Stay Motivated While Paying It Off It's tough to stay motivated to keep paying off your debt, but visualizing it can make the process easier. Read More .

Hide your credit cards and stop using them. If the problem is really bad, you can place a freeze on your credit. Or as a last resort, cancel all your cards.

4. Use the Envelope Method

The envelope method is an extension to the “debit only” trick above. Not only do you commit to spending what you have instead of relying on credit, you also limit how much money you have available at any given time.


Imagine you have an envelope with $50 cash. That’s all you can spend this month. Once your envelope runs empty, you can’t buy anything else until next month when you replenish with another $50. Now instead of a physical envelope, imagine a digital envelope.


You can set up a separate checking account as your spending envelope. Move all of your other money into savings or retirement accounts, and keep enough in your main checking account for bills and such. Only spend from your envelope account.

It’s simple but effective.

Set up a digital envelope account and use that as your only source of money when shopping online. Or try kicking it to the next level with a 30-day no-spend challenge How to Fix Bad Financial Habits With a 30-Day Money Challenge Read More !

5. Create a Waiting List

For me, one of the most effective methods for curbing spending is the waiting list method. If you tend to shop impulsively when online Buck the Trend: 5 Tips to Avoid Shopping Impulsively Online Are you an impulsive shopper? Do you throw away money on items you don’t really want or need? Here are some tips and tricks to help you regain control. Read More , this will open your eyes to how worthless those purchases really are.

All you need is a pen and paper. Any time you think you want to buy something, write down the item and the current date. Wait 30 days. If you still want it after the waiting period, feel free to buy it. That’s it!


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted something only to have that desire fade away within a few days. By waiting a while before buying something, you’ll never feel buyer’s remorse again.

What if you see an item on super sale? Shouldn’t you get it now so you don’t spend extra later? No. It’s better to buy something you actually want for full value than to buy something on sale and end up regretting it. Don’t worry about deals.

Start building a waiting list. Over the course of one year, you’ll see how much you end up not buying — and when you add up how much you’ve saved on impulse purchases, you’ll have a huge smile on your face.

6. Swap and Barter

Instead of spending money on new items, why not trade away what you already possess instead? It lacks the instant gratification of buying something new on Amazon, of course, but it’s much more cost effective.

All you have to do is find a good site or community that likes to trade, swap, or barter goods. Reddit is fantastic for this sort of thing. In fact, here are a few subreddits you may want to try:

Or you can try other online communities like Freecycle and

Before you buy anything, see if you can find a way to swap for it first. Not only will you save money on your purchases, but you’ll also work toward de-cluttering your home (or prevent clutter from building up in the first place).

7. Block Online Retailer Sites

If worse comes to worst and you simply can’t resist the urge to splurge on Amazon, then maybe it’d be best to outright block the website. If you can’t see the site, you can’t spend your money, right?

Fortunately, we’ve outlined several ways to block websites How to Really Block Time-Wasting Websites: 3 Tips That Work Finding yourself unproductive because of distracting sites? Block time-wasting sites with the help of these tips and tools. Read More in the past, including everything from using the Windows host file What Is the Windows Host File? And 6 Surprising Ways to Use It The Windows Hosts file allows you to define which domain names (websites) are linked to which IP addresses. It takes precedence over your DNS servers, so your DNS servers may say is linked to... Read More to using a content filter like OpenDNS OpenDNS Works As A Great Free Web Content Filtering Solution Read More . You can also use parental control software like K9 Web Protection The 8 Best Parental Control Apps for Windows Are you doing enough to protect your kids online? With the best parental control apps for Windows, you won't have to think twice. Read More .


If you install a content filter, the important thing is that you give the admin password to someone else, like your spouse or a trusted long-time friend. That way if you ever want to buy something, they have to approve the purchase.

And no more window shopping! Stop that at all costs. Nothing will unexpectedly drain your wallet faster than that.

Consider blocking the sites where you’re likely to recklessly spend money, and give control over to someone you trust to keep you in check. Be honest with yourself when you’re thinking about this one!

Don’t Let Money Master You

All of these tricks are just stopgaps. They’re temporary. If you really want to shop online, you’re going to find a way around all of these tips. To change your behavior, you have to go even deeper.

Mainly, you need to start seeing money in a new way 4 TED Talks to Help You See Your Money in a New Way Personal finance can be a scary and intimating subject. Luckily there is a wealth of information to help you learn. Here are some of the best TED Talks on the subject. Read More , and remembering that buying things won’t give you true happiness Learn the Science of Joy: Find the Best Happiness Advice Online Yes, you can learn to be happy but it’s going to take some determination. The best happiness advice should smoothen that effort. Read More . They may grant temporary excitement, but if you want real peace, you’ll have to look elsewhere 5 Ways to Refresh Your Morning Routine and Be Happier The first hour of the day dictates how the remaining 23 will go. Take control of your day by taking control of your morning and become a happier you. Read More .

That being said, you can still enjoy tech and gadgets while being frugal How to Be Frugal While Still Enjoying Tech & Gadgets Just because you're being frugal doesn't mean you can't enjoy tech! Here are some tips on how to not break the bank with tech purchases. Read More . All you have to do is cultivate good money habits 5 Tech Habits You Should Cultivate If You Want to Save Money Cultivate these 5 habits to make sure you save money and get the gadgets and hardware you've been lusting after. Read More and take advantage of things like smart shipping options Shipping Smartly: 5 Frugal Tips to Save Money When Shopping Online You're shopping around online, you find the perfect item just within your budget, but the shipping is just way too much? Here's how to cut those fees down to size. Read More .

Do you consider yourself an impulse shopper? What are your biggest struggles with money management? What steps have you taken to spend less money online? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Cash Envelope via Shutterstock, Numbered Pad via Shutterstock.

Related topics: Credit Card, Online Shopping, Save Money.

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  1. infmom
    May 30, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Yipe! Don't EVER use your debit card online. Just as you can take money out of your bank account, so can any crook who gets your information.

    If you really must use a debit card, get one from PayPal and put the money for purchases in your PayPal account. Transferring the money in takes several days, by which time you're probably not so eager to buy whatever it was.

    • gard
      May 31, 2016 at 12:14 am

      Just what i was thinking. AFAIK a credit card has certain protections against fraud that you can contest. A debit card is like taking money directly from the account and paying cash, once its gone, its gone and you can't contest it, which makes it more vulnerable. Not an expert, but that is my understanding.

      • Joel Lee
        May 31, 2016 at 12:32 am

        @gard: Most debit cards also have protections against fraud and such. However, the problem is that your money is gone from your account until the entire investigation is done and the money is recovered. Credit cards will immediately revert the charges and then fight to reclaim the lost money, which is why credit cards are "safer" if you don't have an emergency fund to fall back on.

        @infmom: You're right that using a debit card online has its risks! I should've mentioned that. The tip to use PayPal is a great one, especially because PayPal does offer debit cards too. Thanks, I appreciate it!

  2. Anonymous
    May 30, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Nothing personal, Joel, but anybody this addicted is beyond the tricks you recommend. They are in need of serious, intensive, professional help.

    "3. Always Debit, Never Credit"
    In case of fraud or stolen identity, the credit card owner's liability is limited ($50), while the entire amount represented by a debit card can be lost.

  3. Anonymous
    May 30, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Nothing personal, Joel, but anyone who is this addicted is beyond the simple tricks you recommend and most definitely needs professional help.

    "3. Always Debit, Never Credit"
    There is a problem with that advice. With a credit card, one is only liable for a limited amount ($50) in case of stolen identity or fraud. The liability with a debit card is the entire amount on deposit.

  4. Lee
    May 30, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    While you may have more spending control with a debt card, you have fewer protections. A credit card can extend your warranty or protect you if your purchase is lost or stolen. if someone gets your debit card number, they can clean out your account. If they get your credit card number, you are probably liable for only the first $50.