I’m an impulsive person. If I see something I want, I make an effort to get it as quickly as possible, and feel a temporary dopamine rush when I behold my new thing. This was a problem for me when it came to online shopping. I’d continually order from stores with little restraint. It got to the point where packages would be at my doorstep but I did not remember what I ordered. Junk started to pile up in my room. I was wasting money for no good reason and knew I had to make a change.

After experimenting with various ways to solve the problem, I found one that works: only order items online once every four weeks on a designated day. Look at your calendar, pick a date four weeks from now, and only on that day can you place any online order, no exceptions. When the day comes, place all of your orders, then for the next four weeks, you cannot order a single item online until the next buying day arrives.

No exceptions mean no exceptions. You cannot buy anything until your buying day. If there is something you truly “need,” you’ll have to find it in a physical store. If the store doesn’t have it then too bad, you’ll have to live without it. You’ll be surprised how strong the temptation to buy a “necessity” becomes. Your mind will formulate a barrage of excuses to get you to buy the “essential” item, but once the temptation passes, you realize you didn’t even need it. Instead, you were merely bored, lonely, or in a bad mood.

The first couple of months you do this, you may actually spend more money per month. This is because you are aggravating your flesh and it is desperate for a “release” through big shopping days. Your impulsive nature is yet to be fully tamed, and is coaxing you to go hog wild at the next opportunity. This will pass. By the third month, you will not receive as much dopamine from the shopping, and actually be annoyed at having to open so many boxes at once, and your expenses begin to decline.

Another benefit of having one shopping day per month is that you can carefully deliberate whether you need an item or not. For example, I’ll place many items in my Amazon shopping cart that I “need,” and then a week or two goes by without buying them, and I realize I don’t need them at all. Waiting to buy something removes the impulsivity behind it, allowing you to use your logical faculty on the usefulness of an item. While I may pile my cart with 20 items in the four intervening weeks, I may end up buying only 8 or so.

Yet another benefit is that you become fully aware of how much money you are spending. When you buy a thing here or a thing there, you don’t know your exact monthly expenditure, but when you make all purchases in one day from multiple online stores, the dent in your pocketbook is noticeable and painful. I remember on my first buying day I spent close to $600. On what, I hardly remember, but I could not ignore that expense so easily. Now I try to make it a game to see if I can spend less than the previous month. Do I really need a third Bible? Do I really need a pair of jeans made by a company that uses transgender models? Do I really need another knit hat when I already have one? No, no, and no. But I would have bought all of these if I didn’t constrain myself to a single buying day.

But what if an item you want is on sale? If it’s not your designated buying day, you cannot buy it, no matter how great the discount. It has happened to me where I had to pay full price on my buying day for something that was just on sale, but guess what: I still spend less overall. The purpose of sales and free shipping is to increase corporate profits, not help you to spend less money. Paradoxically, by responding to consumer incentives and discounts, you end up spending more. I don’t exaggerate when I say that “free shipping” may have caused you to waste thousands of dollars over your lifetime thus far.

I became so pleased with the results of this tactic that I extended my buying day to every five weeks. I’m spending less than ever online even though I have to wait a while to buy anything. When my consumer desires can’t be immediately fulfilled, the desire itself begins to weaken.

The most immediate benefit of having a designated shopping day is spending less money, but I noticed a subtle benefit beneath the surface: I’m less dependent on new things to make me happy. Sometimes when we become upset, we look for novelty to give us a boost, causing us to go online and buy something we don’t need, yet that thing doesn’t provide us with positive feelings that last, and it becomes a piece of junk like most of the other pieces of junk we have in our homes. This tactic may sound easy enough, but you’ll be surprised how hard it is to execute if you frequently shop online. Try it out and see what happens.

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