By Kay Bush
Elm Staff Writer
Going to a small college has its perks, but it just so happens that Washington College is small and far from any major stores. One way to get supplies or clothes you may need is through the Internet. Sometimes it can be hard to control yourself when there’s a sale or if you just “need” so many things. It always seems easy to grab a credit card and press that magical button, “Place Order.” What happens if you do it multiple times a month, or week? Hopefully the following methods can help keep some cash in your pocket and debt off your credit report.
1. Stay away from using your credit card. If you have one in your own name, you may be tempted to break it in with a couple of purchases here and there. Before you know it, you can’t bankroll the expenses. By using a debit card, which is directly linked to your bank account, you’ll be more aware of what you can afford. Impatience is a serious motivator for online shoppers. A lot of people will think they can pay off whatever they spend, but paying for regular expenses like grocery shopping and laundry tend to take the front seat and that credit card statement gets pushed back. Remember: debit, not credit, is the way to go.
2. A good rule-of-thumb to follow when creating a shopping cart on a website, is to wait a little while before committing to that purchase. Of course, it’ll be counterproductive to visit another website while waiting, so focus on something else whether it’s homework or hanging out with some friends. Holding off on a purchase for just 30 minutes can save you from overspending or buying things you may not actually want. Revisiting your choices later on gives you a chance to mull them over. Do you already own something similar? How much will you use whatever you want to buy? These are a couple of good questions to ask yourself after picking out a bunch of things.
3. It may seem lame, but if your addiction is too strong, try coupons. Although some stores have their coupons directly applied to the shopping cart at checkout, there are third party sites that can offer you extra discounts. Websites like retailmenot.com and coupons.com give every day online shoppers the upper hand. It’s worth a shot to check, even if there aren’t any sales or coupons that are applicable to your order.
4. Possibly one of the most important tips to controlling online shopping habits is considering if the purchase is purely emotional. Every person is guilty of an emotional splurge. It’s so easy when you think you’re treating yourself after a hard week or when you feel left out because your friends have what you want. It may be tough, but try to make it a part of your everyday thought process that shopping based on emotion isn’t healthy. In the case that you “feel” like you need to buy something unnecessary, step back, and regroup. Find something else to do or find someone to hang out with. It’s more rewarding to share your victories and losses with your closest friends and family rather than the creditor on the phone.
Online shopping is fun but dangerous. Don’t let its tantalizing ease-of-access tempt you to bleed your wallet dry. In college, prioritization is key. Sustenance and clean clothes will mean a lot more in the long run.