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How to Manage Your Online Buying Habits

How to Manage Your Online Buying Habits

How do you control your spending in a marketplace you can access nearly all the time? Online buying is so easy and gratifying that it can be all too easy to overdo it. Here are some examples of how to manage your online spending and regulate your buying habits on the Internet.

Track your spending

It's easy to overspend on your favorite shopping site, even if (especially if) it offers bargains. Seemingly small purchases add up over time, especially if they're frequent, and can land you in debt before you know it.

Find out where your biggest money drain is with a site like Mint.com. An easy and free online budgeting and money management tool, Mint lets you sync all your accounts so you can see how much you're spending with credit and debit cards. You can even set up alerts to notify you if you spend more than you've budgeted for.

BudgetTracker.com is another free expense tracking tool that lets you sync and follow your accounts per transaction. You can even use it to track your small business expenses.

Know yourself

As counter-intuitive as it might sound, avoid subscribing to daily deal sites. There's something about seeing all those great bargains come into your inbox everyday that can inspire the purchase of stuff that you don't really need. Fifty-percent off of a restaurant tab is great, but you still have to spend money to save money. If your overall household expense reduction includes limiting spending on things like eating out and entertainment, then being bombarded by online bargains might be too tempting for you.

Limit your access

You can literally prohibit access to your online buying weaknesses using Leechblock, a Firefox add-on that blocks specified sites. If your lunch break or evening hours give you too much surfing time, for example, you can choose sites to block during those times. You can even block all sites during certain hours to get your work done. Not being able to get to the online buying sites you spend the most time and money at should help you curb your spending right away.

Pay as little as possible

Though constant exposure to unsolicited bargains can offer too much temptation, targeting discounted ways to get what you're already planning or needing to buy are a must. Search for specific deals on bargain sites, focusing on coupon codes for things like free shipping. RetailMeNot is a great site for finding available discounts with most major retailers; FreeShipping.org is another good one to try. To look for the lowest prices on what you want, PriceGrabber.com and Google Product Search will show you the best deals both online and in brick-and-mortar stores near you.

It's not hard to learn how to manage your online buying habits, but it does take the desire to control your spending. Start by limiting your access to shopping sites, tracking your buying habits, and getting the best prices you can find for things you must purchase. Happy saving!

Image by: Roland Tanglao