10 Things You (and I) Can Do Instead of Shopping Online
During this time of year, everything is go, go, go, go —
We rush to get through our regular workday so we can make it to a social gathering, or family event, or knock some items off the to-do list.
And at the end of the day, once we are finally able to sit down and relax on the couch, what do we do to wind down?
Maybe turn on the TV, catch up on the news, or the sports scores.
But a lot of the time we turn to the ‘net, and do some surfing. And where does that typically lead us?
Amazon. eBay. QVC. LL Bean. Macy’s. And so many other online retailers that are just begging for our attention.
So now that I’m re-upping my focus on financial responsibility, I totally acknowledge the need to establish better money habits.
New hobbies that will add to my bounty, instead of subtracting from it. No longer spending just to spend, or justifying yet another unnecessary expense.
Because at the end of the day, what has online shopping really done for us?
For me personally, absolutely nothing but cause insecurities, regret, anxiety, and frustration.
So in no particular order, here are 10 things you can do instead of online shopping.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you sign up or make a purchase using my referral link.
1. Declutter Your Kitchen Table/Counter
You come home from work, throw your keys and the mail on the counter. Magazines and catalogs start accumulating in an unread pile. Invitations, advertisements, receipts, and coupons land in a metal basket on the kitchen table.
One on top of the other, building a small mountain of “should-look-at-eventually-but-not-right-now” items.
Take 10 minutes — no 5 minutes — to go through those piles and put everything in its proper place.
Recycle the junk. If you haven’t read the magazines or catalogs yet, ditch ’em. Organize bills so they’re ready to be paid. Arrange important papers or invites in date order, with the most urgent or upcoming event on top. Hang the keys on a hook or rack on the wall.
Look at that clear space you have just created on the counter, and take a deep breath. Now isn’t that refreshing?
2. Balance Your Online Checking Account
Checking accounts have come a long way over the past 15 years or so.
I took an accounting class in high school where we learned how to reconcile and balance our check registers. That was back in the day when the bank gave you an actual paper booklet, where you would physically write each debit and credit value, and do the math.
In today’s world, paper check registers are no longer necessary, and everything can be done online.
Instead of scribbling check marks next to each item as it clears the bank, you can click a button next to each item on the banking website.
Either way, it’s good to track all of your expenses periodically, and make sure the ending balance matches what you have in your records. Banks do send out monthly statements.
But if you’re trying to save money, reduce debt, or pay off bills, it’s a smart idea to balance your accounts more often than just once a month. Especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck.
Related Post: Hey Big Spender – How’d You Do on Black Friday?
3. Clean Out & Reorganize Your Closet
Instead of shopping online and adding to your closet, take a long hard look at what’s in there already. You may be able to get rid of a few things. You can donate to charity, like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Or you can even make a few extra bucks by selling some items on consignment.
Before adding to your current collection of couture, see if you can counter that expense by eliminating items from your existing wardrobe.
Even better, save some money by not buying anything new at all.
And a closely related sub-recommendation would be to reorganize your closet by color, which will absolutely save you time when planning your daily outfits.
Instead of rummaging around in your closet for shirts or jackets to match the skirt or pants you’ve pulled out, all of your viable options will be in one place. Organize your wardrobe by color, and you just need to make a selection out of one or two hued-sections.
4. Reconcile Current Debt Figures
Here’s one that will no doubt help you steer clear of online shopping. If you currently have outstanding debt, take a few minutes for this activity.
Access all of your accounts to update the current balance for each one. Hopefully, that amount is lower than what was documented previously. And preferably by more than just a few dollars.
I do this on an Excel spreadsheet, to have the totals calculated at the bottom. But you can use Google Sheets, or any other type of documentation software to track the numbers.
If using a spreadsheet, you can filter the results by Outstanding Balance, Minimum Payment, or Highest APR.
Play around with the numbers, and imagine what it would be like to pay one of those debts off in their entirety. Then go a little crazy and imagine what it would be like to have them ALL paid off.
Do you still want to buy that item online?
5. Give Your Toilet a Scrub Down
This one goes in the category of “Need to Do, But Intensely Hate Actually Doing”.
Give your toilet a true scrub down. Not just a swish or two around with the toilet brush, or swiping the seat with a Lysol wipe. I’m talking a full-on scrubbing. Getting down on your hands and knees, cleaning all the way around the toilet base to the back of the commode where the sun don’t shine. Scrubbing the seat over and under, lifting each section to get between all of the nooks and crannies.
If that doesn’t give you a better perspective on how you spend your time and money, nothing will.
6. Groom Your Pets
Does Rover like to roll around in the dirt? And does Rover sleep in the bed with you? Enough said.
No, really. Those who don’t have pets may not fully understand. Dogs are legit family members in our household.
There always seems to be one in my lap (65lb lap-dog), and they do sleep in the bed with us. Sorry if that grosses you out. We are dog people.
But they do need brushings, baths, pedicures, and general wipe-downs. (Especially English Bulldogs!)
7. Groom Yourself
If you don’t have pets, you may also need to perform some self-grooming. When’s the last time you took a close look in the mirror? You might be due for some eyebrow maintenance.
And with each stray hair that is plucked, repeat after me: “I. Will. Not. Buy. Anything. Online.” There, isn’t that better?
The same exact mantra can also be used for random chin hair plucking, as well as upper lip waxing.
Or if you’re a dude, you can *luckily* shave it all off in one fell swoop.
Unless you have a beard, which is the lazy-man’s haircut. Kidding.
I’m in a household surrounded by men, and they all have beards for the winter. Which makes me feel a bit cranky and jealous.
Related Post: 13 Lessons Horror Movies Teach Us About Personal Finance
8. Read Personal Finance Blogs
While I do call myself a personal finance blogger, I don’t consider my blog to be a source of financial advice, or even recommendations.
I am absolutely not qualified to do anything of the sort. My blog is more of a rite of passage, or journey to financial enlightenment.
But I really enjoy reading other personal finance blogs because it allows me to keep learning.
Truth be told, some of the content I read I don’t even fully understand. But it inspires me to eventually become as financially savvy as these other bloggers.
If you don’t have a ton of time to seek out individual personal finance blogs, here are some websites that pull together all types of quality financial content:
9. Volunteer at an Animal Rescue or Humane Society
Instead of spending money that you may or may not have, how about spending time with some furry friends who don’t have a home.
And actually, volunteering doesn’t just have to be at an animal shelter or humane society. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, library, local boys and girls club, or homeless shelter.
Spending time with those who don’t have as many blessings as you do will put everything in greater perspective. And bonus points for the additional benefit of physical activity.
Walking a dog or cleaning out cages. Playing sports or games with kids. Helping to prepare food or shelter for those who don’t have anywhere else to go. You’ll be expending energy and exercising all for a good cause.
10. Run Maintenance Scans on Your Computer
Using our laptops and smartphones for banking and online shopping has become extremely commonplace over the past decade or so. Sometimes we forget how much personally identifiable information we are actually putting out there for the world to see.
Something very useful to do (that we often put off doing) is performing system maintenance on our electronic devices. Scanning your computer for malware, spyware, or viruses. Deleting temporary internet files and cookies. Clearing the cache that will not only make your system run faster, but will also make your computer and data more secure (or less susceptible to dangerous interlopers.)
Do this instead of online shopping, to protect yourself and your personal information. Another bonus is it will clear out any tracking cookies on your system.
When you go to a website and then later see ads for the exact item you were just looking at — that’s because of a tracking cookie. When you’re shopping online and the website shows you recommended items that look quite similar to other things you recently shopped for — that’s because of a tracking cookie.
Clear all that stuff out, so you’ll be less tempted to pick up where you left off. Also, this will bump you out of any sites that you had been logged into. So in order to make a purchase online, you’ll need to sign in again.
That one extra step to look up your password can save you money. It’s another chance to defer you from making an online purchase for something you don’t actually need.
So really, all of the above suggestions are things I’d recommend doing regardless, not just to avoid online shopping. Any one of the items above will help you to gain focus on your daily activities and improve your perspective.
Streamlining your finances and material possessions = a more purpose-driven life.
Taking care of yourself and others who are less capable of doing so = placing value on the gifts God/the universe has graciously provided.
Educating yourself on a continual basis = expanding mindset to learn, develop, and create new things.
It’s taking care of yourself — mind, body, and soul.
Which is worth so much more than a click and a purchase of some random item while shopping online.
Related Post: 9 *Better* Alternatives to Buying Gifts
Did you make it to the end? What do you think — will these suggestions help you avoid the casual ease of online shopping?
(And Yes, this was written in an attempt to help me as well.)
Hit me up in the Comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts —
Robin : )
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.