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3 Ways to Avoid Impulse Buys on Cyber Monday


A person with an amputated left limb uses a credit card and smartphone to shop online while outside.

Image source: Getty Images

We’re coming up on some major shopping events — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. And the latter might seem like your best bet for holiday shopping.

The beauty of Cyber Monday is that you can scoop up bargains without having to leave the house. That means not having to battle crowds and not falling victim to impulse buys.

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Or does it? You may be less likely to give in to impulse buys online because you’re not staring at physical items in front of you. But retailers are very good at online marketing, which means they’re adept at finding ways to convince online shoppers to make unplanned purchases.

These days, there are sophisticated algorithms merchants are able to use to target marketing efforts based on consumers’ personal habits. In other words, in the course of your shopping, you might see ads for items you’re more likely to buy. (If that sounds creepy, you’re right — it is.) And so you might end up with a larger credit card tab even if you limit your holiday shopping to online browsing only.

The good news, though, is that there are steps you can take to avoid impulse buying on Cyber Monday. Here’s how.

1. Set a budget before you shop

When you’re not trying to stick to a specific spending limit, it’s easier to end up making impulse purchases. But if you set a budget for Cyber Monday, you may be less likely to go overboard.

Let’s say you put yourself on a $300 budget for Cyber Monday, and you also have seven gifts to buy. If you make a point to purchase all of those gifts and then see how you’re doing budget-wise, you might take impulse buys off the table.

2. Reward yourself for sticking to a list

There may be specific items you want to scoop up on Cyber Monday — say, toys for your nieces and nephews, a new tablet for your significant other, and some kitchen gadgets for your folks. If you come up with a reward for sticking to your list, you may be more motivated to do just that. Your reward might be anything from a fancy latte the next morning at your favorite coffee shop to a takeout dinner as a reward for being disciplined.

3. Give in to impulse buys — within reason

A good way to avoid impulse buys might, ironically, be to allow yourself some impulse buys. Let’s say you have a Cyber Monday shopping list, but you also allow yourself $50 in impulse purchases on top of that. Doing so might prevent you from racking up $150 in unplanned purchases instead.

While shopping online can make it easier to stay focused on your holiday list, there’s still the potential to be tempted by different items, especially if the bargains seem deep and abundant. But the last thing you want is to close out the holiday season with a pile of debt in your name. And the less you fall victim to impulse buys, the less likely that will be to happen.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has positions in Target. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Target. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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