Purchases, According to a Financial Psychologist

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Combine a pandemic that’s kept us cooped up indoors with an unusually cold winter and what do you get? A perfect recipe for some highly questionable online impulse purchases.

Maybe you can’t stop hunting for a cocktail dress to wear at those summer weddings you may-or-may-not attend. Or maybe you suddenly find your AmazonBasics kitchenware lacking in comparison to the celebrity chefs you’ve taken recipe inspiration from. Either way, if you feel like your online shopping has been more out of control than usual, you’re not alone: Consumer spending on e-commerce platforms shot up 44% over the past year, according to information from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Financial experts will tell you that if you want to curb unnecessary spending, you need to unsubscribe from marketing emails, block websites, and delete your credit card information from your browser. It’s sound advice that does the trick for many — but sometimes these tips can backfire or simply not go far enough. (Not to point any fingers, but this author may or may not have accidentally memorized her own credit card number from manually typing it in too many times.)

So if you’re a fellow member of the credit card memorization club who’s still spending more online than you’d like to, then you may need to replace easy hacks with more long-lasting habits rooted in behavioral psychology.

“I don’t think [easy hacks] are nearly as helpful as understanding why you’re doing it in the first place,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist and certified financial planner.

Here’s what to know about the psychology behind impulsive shopping and how to use that knowledge to create better habits.

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