How to Stop Online Shopping (Tips From a Former Shopaholic)

Do you need help to stop online shopping? Here are some tips from a reformed shopaholic.

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of shopping, especially online shopping. It’s so quick and easy. Just press “add to cart” and you find instant joy—your brain gets excited, awash with dopamine, and you begin to imagine the many ways this newly-bought thing is going to make your life fuller and richer. 

The problem is most purchases rarely fulfil this promise. New things might make you happier for a short time, but the thrill is short-lived more often than not. 

Believe me—I’m a reformed shopaholic. I’ve honestly wasted tens of thousands of dollars on clothes that never made it out of my closet. (Ouch!) I know the joy of online shopping … and I also know what can happen in the aftermath: debt, shame, and regret.

Even if you don’t identify as a shopaholic, I’m sure you’ve experienced the ping of buyers remorse. We buy things we don’t really need with money that we don’t really have (or at least, money that could be better spent elsewhere). 

If any of this hits a bit close to home, then keep reading for tips that will help you stop shopping. These have all been real-world tested in my own life and—as someone who once impulsively spent $700 buying secondhand shoes on eBay—I know they work.

"How to Stop Online Shopping Tips From a Former Shopaholic" in a white box with a lady sitting at a laptop in the background.

How To Stop Shopping Online

Inspect Your Urges

First and foremost, it’s helpful to know that most of the time, shopping is psychological. We don’t really need all the things we buy. Instead, we make purchases because it makes us instantly happy (remember the dopamine?). 

And over the past 25 years, more and more of us have been turning to online shopping to satisfy this urge. It was 1994 when the first documented online purchase was made, and since then, the e-commerce industry has grown like a five-headed monster. And in 2020, total sales globally have tripled, reaching $4.2 trillion

It feels somewhat soothing that others shop a lot too, right? But that’s actually part of the problem. We think excessive shopping is normal because everyone else is doing it when, in reality, there are just a LOT of people buffering their emotions with stuff. 

Because honestly, that’s what shopping is for many people. It’s less about what you want to buy and more about managing your feelings. We feel the urge to shop when we’re:

  • Sad
  • Triggered by something
  • Angry
  • Anxious
  • Bored

Buying something new is a way of distracting ourselves from uncomfortable feelings, and online shopping only amplifies this problem. Technology means we can make instant purchases and instantly self-soothe. 

You don’t have to wait for stores to open and there’s no drive to the shops, which means there’s no time or space to move through our emotions. Instead, we can avoid them altogether. It’s habit-forming and it’s why you can’t stop online shopping, even if you want to. 

The solution—or at least, the first step forward—is to pay attention to what triggers your urge to shop. Are you comparing yourself to people you see online? Do you shop because it makes you feel better about yourself? Do you sometimes feel unloved and shop after a fight with your family or friends to ease the stress? 

If so, don’t judge yourself. Instead, simply observe and practice self-compassion. Try writing down these trigger points on a sticky note and placing it somewhere where you can see them. 

Next time when you’re feeling triggered by any of these emotions, remove yourself from any shopping devices and hide away your credit cards. Why not try practising self-care or journaling instead.

A sad looking lady leaning on the table in front of a laptop
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why can’t I stop online shopping?” try looking at your emotional triggers. Often, we shop as a way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings.

Delete Shopping Apps

Working on your shopping triggers is one of the best ways of changing your habits, but the urge won’t disappear overnight. In the meantime, there are practical things you can do to stop online shopping. 

Because let’s be honest: modern technology has made it really difficult to resist! 

Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram or the ASOS app on the way to work and suddenly, you’ve made a purchase that you absolutely didn’t need? Or have you ever seen a social media influencer wear something extraordinary that you felt you couldn’t live without? Within seconds, that beautiful item has been bought, paid for, and it’s on its way.  

But we can be smarter than the apps that make us buy more stuff. An easy way out? Delete them from your phone altogether. This way, you’ll have to make a conscious decision to sit down to the computer to buy something online. It is less convenient, thus makes it easier for you to control your shopping habits.

In addition to deleting apps, you can also unsubscribe from emails, stop following brands and influencers on social media, and stop reading fashion blogs or online magazines. These small choices can really help you stop shopping online.

Forget Your E-Wallet

Convenience makes us easy prey to guilty pleasures. Since our devices conveniently ‘store’ the passwords to our payment platforms and credit cards, buying anything in the world (except for yachts or apartments) is literally a click or two away. 

A good idea is to “forget” your credit card details online. This can be as easy as clearing your cookies and cache often, or you might need to remove your saved credit cards from your browser

I know it’s inconvenient, but that’s the point. Sometimes the hassle of having to physically get your credit card is enough resistance to slow your online shopping habits!

A lady sitting in front of a laptop holding credit cards while online shopping.

Create a “Wait and See” List

It’s a familiar scenario: you’re going about your daily life when suddenly, you realise you need something. You pick up your phone to place an Amazon order, right? 

If so, try making this one small change to your routine. Instead of going on Amazon, open a notepad app and start a “Wait and See” list. (If you usually do your online shopping at a computer, create a list there instead.) Write down everything you want to buy—and then wait. 

This list is helpful in several ways. First, writing things down slows the purchasing process and, as we’ve already discussed, slowing down gives you time to process your feelings. Do you really need this? Or are you reacting to something? You might find that after a few days, you no longer feel the desire to buy. 

Another way this list helps is by creating awareness of how much you want to shop. Track your urges for a few weeks, and the results might surprise you! Try adding up all the money you would have spent but didn’t. It might be an eye-opener.

Related Post: How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear

The Truth About Online Shopping

Admittedly, with everything going on in the world right now, most of us are shopping online more than ever. I spent a good chunk of last year at home with a baby and a toddler, and I know it’s hard. I also made more online purchases than usual too, and that’s OK. I’m giving myself grace and you should too. 

I’m also grateful that online shopping exists right now. I know it’s a life-saver for a lot of people who are in a difficult position. But at the same time, you must be mindful of your habits. If you catch yourself thinking “I need to stop online shopping” then take a deep breath, and commit to making a change. 

Becoming more intentional with our spending is one of the most powerful ways we can create freedom in our lives—and isn’t that what we all want? More money, more time, and more space for the things and people that matter most. The more you remember this, the easier it will be to walk away next time you feel the urge to “add to cart”. 

Have you ever felt like you can’t stop shopping online? What helped you get your habit under control? Let us know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “How to Stop Online Shopping (Tips From a Former Shopaholic)”

  1. Thank you for these empowering suggestions and reminders.
    Emotional awareness is so important when marketing is designed to be triggering and to bypass the thought pause.
    Be purposeful. Proceed intentionally. Save money.

  2. This was a great blog post, I’ve read these strategies before but it’s good to have a reminder. The knowledge that it’s feelings driving our actions (in this case, online shopping, driven perhaps by feelings of boredom or loneliness) is really important in order to understand and break the habit.
    As a mum of three little kids, and starting my own business, and having moved house a week ago, I have a lot on my plate. I notice that when I go online to browse shops, it is driven by a feeling that I have neglected my needs. I have learnt to see it as a warning sign. So when I find myself browsing for clothes online, sometimes (not always, as I am still practicing!) I ask myself: What do I really need right now, for me? Do I need to journal? Do I need to go outside for a little walk? Do I need a cry? Do I need to connect with a friend (online as we’re in a pandemic)? I really like seeing the urge to online shop and the action of browsing as a warning sign like this. A helpful one. Rather than judging it as a bad thing. Maybe this can help others too 😉

  3. This is timely for me and thanks for sharing. I was doing really well with hardly buying anything online lately (after buying hundreds of things over 6 years) and then over the last two weeks I have ordered 8 pairs of shoes. That’s more than some people actually own! How crazy! But I do feel I am doing better than I was. My trouble is impulse buying. I click the button and then go, oh well, too late. I am trying to draw the line under it today.

  4. One of the things that drives me crazy are the ads that “follow” me around on Facebook and other media websites after I’ve looked at an item or visited an online store. Getting rid of the ads is almost impossible so I occasionally try a novel tactic—-I intentionally look up products that I don’t have the slightest interest in buying. A fancy power tool, for example. A canoe. Horse supplies. Whatever, as long as it’s an item that is irrelevant to my life. That way, at least some of the ads that pop up in my feeds aren’t the least bit tempting!

  5. I agree with what Aylisha said above. I also find myself rationalizing purchases (using reward points, buying second-hand, etc) to convince myself that I’m saving money. But in the end, I save the most by limiting my time online. Thanks for the tips!

  6. This is very timely for me! Thank you so much for posting this. These are great tips, and I so much appreciate the honest but not judgy attitude with which you approach it!

  7. Thanks for the great tips. I seem to shop online to buy gifts for people to receive gratitude and attention which makes me feel important and generous. Will try to do better…..


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