When my coworker J. quit her ad agency job to stay at home with her new baby, her husband took all of the catalogs from the mailbox and threw them in the trash so she wouldn’t be tempted to shop. They were on a tighter budget with only one income and she was a clotheshorse. When I had my kids, I tried to follow by example, and had my name removed from mailing lists from my trigger retailers: Hanna Andersson, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, Ballard Designs. Seeing a pair of shoes, a fur vest, a limited edition makeup palette, or even more tempting- a great deal on Hanna Andersson opposite stripe long john pajamas, or a sale on dining room furniture will make me perseverate about things I think I need.
Flash sale sites like Rue La La, Hautelook and Zulily are my latest temptation, making all sorts of brands I covet (and items that would make great gifts!) much too accessible. On Cyber Monday I was bored and surfing through Hautelook’s Vince deals when I found a home furnishings brand I didn’t even know existed. The next thing I knew I had ordered 80 dollars worth of two throw pillows. They should look good in my redecorated living room, but I need to be spending less on nonessential items now that I have cut back on my work hours to spend more time with the baby. I felt kind of dirty after I punched in my Amex number. It made me want to unsubscribe to these flash sale sites, but the other day I discovered a $20 off coupon for Nordstrom Rack. What if I miss out on something else like that in the future?
Daily deal sites like Groupon and Buy With Me have been fruitful for me some days, like the recent Whole Foods deal (since I shop there anyway). But I still have a $50.00 Groupon from a car detailing place a few towns away, nearly a year later. And my car is still filthy because I am not sure when I will get a chance to get there. Most of the deals I can’t use, and friends usually forward along the really good ones.
I don’t have an iPad yet, but my iPhone makes scrolling through my Gmail (where all of my newsletters and retail site emails reside) much too easy. Scroll, click on Kate Spade.com Sample Sale burn through 20 minutes or more of precious me time that could be used reading, blogging or catching up on my DVR-ed Bravo shows. I’ve heard that online shopping is waaaay too user friendly and easy on the iPad. Sounds very dangerous.
Will the easy access to shopping and the sense of urgency (if I log on to the JBrand jeans flash sale too late, I’ll miss my size) create more shopping addicts, more debt and more kids being ignored for the smartphone, tablet or computer screen?
I am starting to feel like one of those housewives in the late 80s addicted to QVC. Different era, different medium. After I post this, I am going to unsubscribe to every retail email mailing list except for Kate Spade. I will try my hardest not to be sidelined by the brand names in the subject lines.
What would probably be the best deterrent: turn off my computer and iPhone more often.
What’s your online shopping weakness? How do you stay in control?