Cultivate good online shopping habits
Over 40% of Americans say online shopping made it harder to stay on budget. That’s according to a new AICPA survey, which shows Americans did a lot of online shopping in 2020. In fact, more than half of Americans (56%) saw their online spending increase between April and December of last year.
“Online shopping is too easy,” said Tracie Miller-Nobles, CPA, member of the AICPA Consumer Financial Education Advocates. You can simply add items to your cart and hit “Checkout” – all without even really thinking about how much you’re spending. “
In December 2020, Harris Poll surveyed 2,116 American adults about their online shopping habits on behalf of the AICPA. The survey showed that two in five Americans (39%) don’t realize how much they spent on their credit or debit cards until they read their monthly statements.
The survey looked at purchasing habits during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when people relied heavily on online shopping and delivery services, Miller-Nobles said. . Almost 40% of Americans reported an increase in their online grocery shopping, while 33% increased their spending on third-party food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats and Postmates. As the pandemic eases, now is a great time to consider your spending online, Miller-Nobles said.
“Set aside time at the end of this month to really take a look at how much you’re spending online. Set a goal of reducing the amount you spend by a specific percentage and instead invest that savings in your retirement account, ”she said.
According to the survey, more than half of Americans (52%) say it’s nice to buy something they want regardless of the price. And with online shopping, it can be easy to find the perfect item, through targeted advertising. Almost a quarter of Americans (24%) increased their purchases from social media ads, according to the survey. Miller-Nobles recommends treating all online purchases like a trip to the supermarket: make a list and stick to it.
To avoid overspending online, she puts the items in her basket and leaves them there.
“If I find that I have forgotten these items after a few days, I will remove them from my cart,” Miller-Nobles said. “Also, I don’t sign up for any in-store promotional emails. I find the emails I get telling me about the ‘next biggest sale’ to be too tempting.
She’s not the only one: eight in 10 Americans (82%) say they’re more likely to buy something online if there’s a promotion, like free shipping. However, online shopping also has its advantages. It is much easier to compare prices between websites than in multiple physical stores. But don’t forget to include hidden costs, such as taxes and delivery charges, Miller-Nobles said.
– Megan Hart is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer. To comment on this article or suggest an idea for another article, contact Courtney Vien, a JofA editor-in-chief at [email protected].