By Catey Hill, MarketWatch
If you want to spend less this year, do this: Build a wall.
That is, a virtual wall.
Experts say we often spend because it’s simple to spend — new clothes are just a click away, a latte is right on our way to work, a subscription can be had simply by entering an email address and promising to pay later. “We are so used to having things easily accessible to us,” says Rosemary Caligiuri, the managing director of United Capital , a wealth management company.
“We need to give ourselves less easy access to spending money.”
In other words, we need to build a wall between ourselves and the easy spending that’s costing us thousands of dollars each year. Indeed, roughly one-fifth of consumers’ consumption — a total of more than $2.3 trillion — is spent on stuff we don’t need, from jewelry to dining out, the government estimates.
Here’s how to build a wall that can save you thousands in 2017:
Introduce slowness into your online life
To save money, wait 72 hours before you buy anything you think you want, recommends Liz Frugalwoods — this is how she refers to herself — the founder of money-saving site Frugalwoods.com . When you’re shopping online, put the items in your cart but don’t click “buy” for three days. “When you pit a sweater against living the life of your dreams, it’s easy not to buy the sweater, she says. She and her husband use this rule for nearly everything.
Never save your credit card information on a website
Go through all the online shopping sites you use and delete the stored credit card information. If you have to enter the information into a site manually, you’re less likely to buy things, says Frugalwoods, as it gives you time to question whether you need the item. And you just might not feel like rummaging through your wallet in the other room to find your card number, and go to bed and forget you ever wanted to make the purchase.
Check out as a guest and turn off push notifications
“Don’t create an account when shopping online,” says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. “The more work you have to do to check out — like enter your billing info, shipping details etc. — the more time you have to reconsider an unnecessary purchase.” Woroch also recommends that you turn off push notifications on your phone from retailers, as these “tempt you to make impulse buys by alerting you to new sales events and new merchandise.”
Press delete on all those smartphone apps
All those apps on your phone are just crying out to be used. “Apps like Seamless, Uber, Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.78% and even Starbucks /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX +0.17% make it too easy to spend money from your phone,” says Coupon Sherpa savings expert Kendal Perez . “By not giving yourself access to these convenient services and apps, you’re forced to consider less-costly alternatives, like taking the subway or preparing a meal or coffee at home,” Perez says.
Unsubscribe from retailers’ email lists
“These emails promoting various sales, new items and clearances will distract you to begin browsing when you didn’t intend to shop in the first place and often lead to impulse buys and buyer’s remorse,” says Woroch. Unsubscribe. Then create a separate email account where you receive such emails, but only check it when you actually need something. And hide ads as “not relevant” that constantly want to sell you those boots on Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.37% and Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +1.19%
Consider canceling shopping memberships
“Amazon Prime and ShopRunner are shipping memberships that compel most members to spend money more frequently, since they want to get the most value out of their membership,” says Perez. In fact, one study from RBC Capital Markets showed that Amazon Prime members spent nearly twice as much on the site as those who weren’t members. Consider canceling if you feel these are spurring you to overspend.
Cancel those lovely, but costly subscription boxes
Those product-based memberships where you get a box of goodies each month are “not only a budget drain, but they also normalize continual, automatic spending on stuff you don’t need,” says Perez. There has been an increase in subscription-based spending, on everything from grocery services on Amazon to subscription boxes. Financial experts say Americans should be automating their savings rather than their purchases.
Reroute yourself and clear your internet cache
Think about the regular paths you take each day, be they to work, school, friend’s houses or other places. If there are “trigger shops” along the way, reroute yourself, says Trae Bodge , a shopping and brand strategist. Where possible, switch to the greenbacks instead. A study by analytics company Dun & Bradstreet found that people spend roughly 12% to 18% more when they use credit cards versus cash.
(This story was republished on March 27, 2019.)