Online Shopping Savvy: Tips for Protecting Your Budget

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By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC® Private Wealth Advisor

As online shopping has advanced, so have the techniques that companies use to influence you to buy. More retailers, marketers and ad agencies are using neuromarketing—marketing techniques developed from brain-science studies—to influence your feelings about their products, what you’ll buy and how much you’ll spend. This makes it harder to resist impulse purchases and can dent your finances.

What’s more, online shopping is available 24/7 from your computer or any mobile device. So if you have a late-night urge to splurge, it’s easy to do so. Here are six tips to keep you in check when shopping online:

  1. Determine beforehand what you are buying. List the items you need and stick to it. Limit temptation; avoid clicking on other related items or recommendations such as “People who bought this item also purchased …”
  2. Limit how long you’ll shop. The less time you give yourself to shop, the less likely you’ll be to load up on items you don’t need.
  3. Set an online shopping budget. Comparison shop to get the most bang for your buck. Also, see if the site you’re purchasing from has active coupon codes, which can help you save big.
  4. Be wary of online auction sites. Sellers know how to exploit the adrenaline rush of online bidding, which means you could end up paying more than an item’s actually worth. If you do shop on these sites, know an item’s true value and commit to not spend more than that.
  5. Don’t shop when you’re stressed or in an urgent need to buy. You’ll be more vulnerable to purchasing items you may not really want or need.
  6. Track your spending. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent. So list purchases and their cost. Several free personal finance websites can help you log them.

Bennett Whitlock, CRPC®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at or call 703-492-7732.


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