Surprise your friends and family with your gift giving prowess.
Woman scrolling a shopping site on her phone.

How do I stop excessive online shopping?

4 minute read
Share article

Online shopping has become more than just a convenience; it is a way of life. However, its ease has created a new problem: excessive online shopping. In 2023, 17.6% of online sales were returned. One of the primary reasons for this was avoidable regret or dissatisfaction with the purchase. We are flooded every day with marketing campaigns and messaging encouraging us to buy. Understanding these tactics and your own emotions will help you control your shopping habits.  

Control your emotions 

One of the most common reasons for excessive shopping is an attempt to fulfill an emotional need. This could be unchecked feelings of desire, depression, greed, envy, or loneliness. Our cognitive ability declines when we are not in check with our emotions. You use This rational or logical part of your brain to make decisions. Without it, you are buying based on your emotions. 

Try to avoid online shopping when you are strongly feeling a particular emotion. You may want to take some time to recognize and acknowledge your emotions. You can then avoid excessive online shopping with a calm, clear head. For some, excessive online shopping is a symptom of deeper unresolved mental health issues. Speaking with a professional can provide the necessary help. 


On average, we make 33,000 to 35,000 decisions every day. For many of us, this leads to decision fatigue. Similar to our muscles becoming tired when we work out at the gym, our brains become tired from making an endless number of decisions. Our brains can process only so much information at a time and in a day. So, to cope with this, we unconsciously use heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to make decisions. It allows us to make decisions more quickly and efficiently. This process happens so quickly that you aren’t even aware you are doing it. Examples of heuristics when online shopping include: 

  • Automatically repeatedly buying the same brand without comparing product quality. 
  • Assuming a product is a good deal solely based on sale price. 
  • Allowing marketing to influence how we perceive people who buy a particular product. 

It can be challenging to not go into autopilot mode when online shopping. However, there are some methods for reducing mental decision fatigue. With a refreshed mental state, you are better able to identify and avoid heuristics. Delegating some of the decision-making reduces your workload. Having your friends and family create Giftster wish list accounts eliminates the task of you having to find the perfect gift. Simply browse their wish list, choose an item, and make your purchase. You don’t have to worry about being distracted by other brands, products, or promotions. 

Disconnect from marketing

Companies have entire marketing teams that use data to perform detailed analytics on current and potential customers. They study psychology and human behavior. This information is used to create marketing campaigns that are incredibly effective at getting you to spend money. You will see this in your email inbox, social media, and texts. There are relationship-building, problem-solving, educational, and promotional campaigns. Most importantly, there is always call to action text telling you to do something. These tactics are incredibly effective at getting you to buy something. 

If you find yourself susceptible to this type of marketing, then it can motivate you to spend more and do online shopping more often. Disconnecting yourself from these marketing messages can help you reduce your online shopping. When you don’t see the constant reminders to “buy buy buy,” you are less likely to actively seek out online shopping opportunities. 

Set boundaries for shopping 

If you aren’t setting boundaries or following a system when shopping, you are more likely to spend and buy more. This is similar to people being more likely to spend more when using a credit card versus cash. There is a different mental process that you go through when spending money. Websites are designed to streamline the online shopping process, allowing you to make a few clicks and buy. This reduces the number of mental boundaries you go through when making a buying decision. 

Establish a set of shopping boundaries for yourself. Put the thought process and rational analysis back into your buying process. This mimics the calculation and thought process you go through when spending cash. Your buying rubric can be as simple or as complicated as you need. 

  • Is the item something a gift receiver or I need or want? 
  • Have I researched the item to compare features, quality, and price? 
  • Do I or the gift receiver have space for the item at home? 
  • Is the item within my budget? 

Delay your purchases 

If you find yourself impulse buying, you aren’t alone. The average American spends about $151 monthly on impulse purchases. While you feel good in the moment, it can lead to greater feelings of negativity later. Its potentially negative impact on your budget can lead to greater feelings of stress. 

One method for reducing impulse purchases is to follow a 24-hour rule. When you find something you want to buy, save it to your Giftster list for at least 24 hours before making your purchase. This creates a cooling-off period where you escape the feelings of urgency that can motivate you to buy. It also lets you step away from the moment and clearly consider whether your purchase is a “need” or a “want” decision. 

Reduce your excessive online shopping 

If you want to reduce your excessive online shopping habits, you must figure out what motivates your spending. It could be an emotional crutch, a habit, marketing-motivated, or simply too easy or impulsive. When you disconnect from marketing and set boundaries for your spending, you can regain control of your mindless or emotional shopping habits. 

Create a wishlist for yourself with items you see online and want to buy. Instead of impulsively buying, you can impulsively add items to your wishlist. Then, wait a day or two before committing to your purchase.

Sign up free on and take a step toward reducing your frivolous online shopping. Who knows, maybe someone will gift you one of those items too!

Share article

Want gift giving to be fun again?

Quit guessing and stressing over gifts. Share and shop wish lists with family and friends for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and more.