Follow these Online Shopping Tips to Save Money and Avoid the Common ADHD Pitfalls of Impulse Buying!
There are plenty of ways to save money online but those of us with ADHD need to approach with caution! If you have read my post about saving money in-store then you will know that the biggest pitfall for shopping is impulse buying, we love a good bargain!
Shopping online is great for those of us who struggle to negotiate big stores, who feel anxious and stressed at the thought of going out into the throng of people all filling their trolleys, particularly if we have to shop at peak times when just finding a space in the car park can be a challenge.
There’s an incredible range of products available online too, pretty much anything you can think of is available somewhere and you don’t have to worry about shopping at unsocial hours. The shops are always open and there’s always a ‘Sale!’ on somewhere.
So how can you take advantage of online shopping, save money, and not get into trouble spending money on things you don’t really need, or that you can’t actually afford?
Online Grocery Shopping
Ordering your weekly groceries online can take a lot of stress out of managing the household. You can store a set list of items and reorder the same list each week, adding any extras to the order before you check out and it will be delivered to your door at a time frame that you choose. Using the list function really does help to ensure you don’t forget things, e.g. lunchbox items and to reduce the amount of impulse buying. You are not exposed to the Special Offers unless you choose to be so try to avoid browsing. Any offers that are on your usual items will show up in your basket so you don’t need to go searching!
For additional savings you can also use a website called mysupermarket.co.uk which is a comparison site specifically for grocery shopping. If you save your regular shopping list on their site it will apply your list to each of the major supermarkets and compare how much your shopping will cost in each store. As you add items to the basket it will recalculate and order the supermarkets from cheapest to most expensive. You can also set up alerts to tell you if favourite products are on offer, plus it offers cashback on some items. You can switch between supermarkets as you shop and it will tell you whether there are any items unavailable and offer alternatives.
Use Comparison Sites
Speaking of comparison sites these are always worth looking at for your household bills and insurance renewals to ensure you get a good deal. I find that with my ADHD I often let insurance renew automatically as I lose track of time, it just seems easier. All of my bills are on Direct Debit as I would worry about missing payments if it was up to me to pay bills on time!
There are the obvious contenders for comparison sites, I would personally recommend
uSwitch, particularly for gas and electric but also for mobile contracts, broadband contracts and insurance. I think most people assume uSwitch only do gas and electric but it’s worth using their tools for other services. There are also sites like confused.com and gocompare.com for car insurance and broadbandchoices.co.uk for telecoms, there are plenty of comparison sites out there so take advantage of them.
For holidays and travel there are sites like laterooms.com and lastminute.com who offer discounted rooms on short notice – this can be a bit like a lucky dip but our impulsive nature fits in well with these sites, an impromptu weekend away because you are suddenly feeling romantic can be all the more amazing when you arrive at a 4 star mansion because it happened to have cheap rooms that night! If you are better at planning holidays then Expedia is probably the obvious comparison site to go to, it also covers travel as well as accommodation and also package holidays.
Use Cashback Sites
I talked about using bank cards with cashback options in my in-store shopping guide to help to save a little money and there are a number of websites set up to offer cashback incentives if you shop through them. They act as a shopping portal and you will generally receive a small percentage of what you spend on a website back as cashback once you have earned a minimum amount. You must go through their links to the shops in order to claim the cashback. The two biggest UK cashback sites at the moment are Quidco and Topcashback (you may have seen their bizarre adverts) and if you are feeling charitable there is also my personal favourite Give As You Live which enables you to earn cashback which goes straight to a charity that you choose.
Shop Around for the Best Deal
Ok, so this seems rather obvious but the internet not only enables you to buy all sorts of things that wouldn’t be available in your local store but there will actually be multiple places to buy these from. I always looks in 3 to 5 different online stores when I am shopping for a particular product. It really doesn’t take too much time and you can make some great savings compared to the High Street.
Amazon is undoubtedly the biggest candy store to an ADHD brain, you can get so many things and if you sign up for Amazon Prime they will arrive the next day! This is amazing for last minute presents, but a little too easy when you are trying to control your ADHD spending. eBay, or the Amazon Marketplace more often than not has the same products available for less but you have to wait for delivery so that impatience, and the possibility that you have left it too late to order, usually gives way to Amazon Prime and the higher price tag. Remember the week planner and time blocking? Don’t leave buying that birthday present until the day before, give yourself at least a week to save some money and have the item delivered with days to spare!
Add to Wish List or Save For Later!
Speaking off impulse buying there is one tip that you need to follow if you are going to take control of your impulse buying. In the in-store shopping guide I talked about coming across those deals which you really feel that you can’t say no to, and advised you to take the item(s) to Customer Services and ask if they can hold it for you for 24 hours. If you really want it, you’ll go back the next day, but if you change your mind when you process the idea overnight, you haven’t lost anything.
The same principle applies online. There are two ways to tackle the problem of seeing and wanting something that five minutes before you hadn’t even considered owning. The first is to use the Wish List function of a shopping site. Some have them, some don’t. If you know that it’s an extravagance, pop it on your wish list and treat it as a present that you can ask for, save up for or reward yourself with when you know you can afford it.
The other option is ‘Save for later’ or ‘Save basket’. I have a rule which I believe saves me a lot of money. Before I hit ‘checkout’ I view my basket. I put each item that is non-essential into the Save for later section and buy anything that is left. I resolve to keep my saved items for 48 hours and if I still really want them, and I can afford it, then I buy them, or I move them to my Wish List. Sometimes I forget to check after 48 hours which just shows how much my ADHD ‘ooh shiny’ reflexes were involved in my shopping spree.
8 times out of 10 when I go back to my saved items, I’m not that desperate to buy them and I usually delete them!
Use Voucher Codes
Voucher Code websites are a great way to save a little extra money although there are no guarantees that you will find a code to use for your chosen store. I always think it’s worth a look so long as you are searching after you have decided that you want to buy something. Voucher Code sites simply list voucher codes that you can add to your basket when you go to check out in some online stores. Do not go searching for voucher codes and then decide that you have to buy something just to use the code – that is not going to help you save money!
Sales and Special Offers – Avoid Newsletters!
Sales and Special Offers exist to lure you in and make you spend money. You see a nice pair of trousers for £5, add them to your basket, click checkout and then see that there’s free delivery if you spend over £40. You may as well make up the difference right? Wrong! Don’t get sucked in. By all means take advantage of sales if you actually need the items but definitely do not sign up for newsletters or special offer notices if you know that you find it difficult to control your spending.
The same goes for group buying sites like Groupon and Wowcher. You can get some amazing deals there, and you can sometimes get a bit of a duff – dodgy European plugged blender thing, I’m looking at you! Again, don’t sign up for the newsletters if you can’t resist a bargain. If you want a spa day however, definitely give them a look over, but go to the website to do it, don’t let your inbox become full of needless temptation.
Can you get what you want for Free?
Join a local free stuff group like Freegle, you’ll be amazed at what people get rid of and you can shift some of those ill thought out items that you have bought too. What is particularly ridiculous about using these services is that sometimes you will get someone who comes to collect an item, usually furniture or something else big, and they’ll refuse it. You literally can’t give things away sometimes, I find it quite baffling. Generally I haven’t had a problem and because they come to my house to collect my unwanted stuff it isn’t too much hassle. I usually use the Charity Shops but the free sites like to make sure that you are giving as well as receiving which I think is fair enough.
Keep Track of your Online Spending
Keep an eye on how much you spend online. Take time to actually add up those Paypal or Amazon receipts in your inbox, even if you don’t really want to. It is so easy to lose track of how much you spend because you don’t have a little bit of paper making it hard to close your purse or wallet. I know it’s tempting to just delete or archive those little emails but commit to adding them up just once a week or even once a month to give you a visual idea of how much money disappears with your mouse clicking.
One silly thing that I do is I set my passwords for my payments in the AppStore to phrases like ‘Yes, I definitely want to waste this money” (obviously that is not specifically my password – that would just be silly to post). Oddly the psychology of it has worked on a number of occasions. I have a weakness for gaming and apps can be scarily good at convincing me that a couple of pounds here and there won’t matter. I frequently have to delete games because I have realised that I’ve spent a fortune on them and I have to force myself not to think about all the money that wastes because I’ve invested in the game. Having a silly password may not seem like much but it’s worth a go if you have a similar problem to me.
how do you save money online?
If you have any online shopping tips for saving money please let me know in the Comments below. I’d love to hear how you get on with the tips that I’ve outlined above, they’ve really helped me to cut down my spending and I hope they can help you too.