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How do I curb my pandemic shopping addiction?

Any tips on how to break this cycle?
Any tips on how to break this cycle?TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at or click here.

Hi Caroline,

During the height of Covid-19, all I did was online shop. It gave me something to do besides worry, and since I live alone, it gave me something to look forward to in those months of total isolation. I loved when things would arrive on my doorstep, I loved putting those new things in my house (I bought a lot of home decor!) and I even loved fussing about the things I would return. It was an activity.

Could I have picked a better hobby? Sure. The point is I didn’t and now I still find myself buying stuff online just for something to do and something to look forward to. I would rather be saving more, honestly.

Any tips on how to break this cycle?


Addicted to Shopping

Hey ATS!

First of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. I can relate, and I bet I’m not alone. It’s easy to remember the quarantine period now and romanticize it while berating ourselves for not being “more productive.” But we were just trying to survive on every level: mentally, physically and emotionally. Turning to a comforting activity like online shopping makes sense. I bought a LOT of sweatpants myself.

Now that you are vaccinated (I assume and hope), it’s time to start introducing safe levels of social activity back into your life. That means there are things to look forward to besides the mailman coming to your door with boxes and envelopes! I am sure you probably already know that, so here are some tried and true tips for weaning yourself off an online shopping habit turned addiction.

  1. Clear your cache: Your phone should not have your credit card information stored. While you’re at it, take it off your computer as well. Basically, make it a little harder to shop online.

  2. Leave your credit cards somewhere that would force you to get up out of bed or from your desk to find them. Again, don’t make this easy for yourself.

  3. Fill your cart to the brim, and then walk away. Allegedly, just the act of adding things to your online cart is said to fulfill that place deep in our souls that yearns to shop.

  4. Shop your own closet — and organize it, too! There can be great joy in going through your own belongings, especially after a year of barely wearing anything in your closet. Take inventory, try everything on and make a list of new items you actually need (if any). This will help you feel a little more control over your shopping.

  5. Put yourself on a cash diet: Take a certain amount of money out of the ATM each week and leave the credit cards at home. Allow yourself to just spend the cash — if you’re anything like me, it will make you a little more cognizant of your spending. Swiping a credit card is just too easy.

None of this has to be forever, but it will make quite a difference when it comes to reeling yourself in when it comes to your shopping and spending. One last idea: Start writing snail mail with a friend (or friends!). It will give you something to look forward to in the mail, without draining your bank account in the process.

You've got this!!!

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