We spend a good chunk of our day plugged in. In fact, a study from last year determined that the average American spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, or using social media. Twenty-three hours is ample time for marketers, advertisers, and even your BFF lifestyle blogger to try and shill you products. And believe me, they do. Between Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and lifestyle blogs, your online predilection can cost you.
Here are 10 Internet habits you need to quit.
Falling Down the Pinterest Rabbit Hole
It starts with spending a few idle minutes scrolling through the best never-ending, personally curated magazine ever: Pinterest. Before you know it, you’re buying artisanal skirts from obscure (yet cute!) boutiques in San Francisco and vintage jewelry from some retailer in the UK. Yes, you’re using the platform to support small businesses, but you’re also buying fashion that you don’t particularly need.
Instead: Use the medium to find new ways to wear the clothes you already have. Search the wardrobe staples you already own like “boat neck top” or “black skirt” to find inventive ways to reuse pieces currently in your closet.
There is no such thing. Since Etsy gives visibility to so many talented, creative (and mostly female) business owners, “browsing” on Etsy is officially a myth. For many of us, going to Etsy ultimately means buying amazing art prints that your home office suddenly needs or baby onesies or vintage purses or teacups or virtually anything you ever wanted. Buyer beware.
Instead: Stick to browsing Etsy goods on Pinterest. Perusing Etsy there — as opposed to directly on Etsy — provides a barrier (albeit a flimsy one) to the checkout cart.
Reading Promotional Emails in Your Leisure Time
When you have a Saturday morning to yourself, catching up on emails from your favorite stores can feel like catching up with an old friend. Odd sentiments arise, like, “How has Kate Spade been doing?” and “Theory, I have missed you!” When you have ample time, it’s easy to succumb to SALE SALE SALE headlines — and end up buying stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Instead: Skim promotional emails when you don’t have time to buy: on your commute, before meetings, between deadlines. A hard stop means that you’re less likely to ravage “70 PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING.”
Hanging Around Twitter During High-Sale Periods
Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, post-Christmas — you know the sale calendar as well as I do. During these periods, social media is brimming with aggressive, and therefore tempting, sales, links, coupons, limited-time checkout codes, etc. You won’t be able to click on Forbes without running into an EVERYTHING MUST GO tweet.
Instead: During these times, hop on Twitter in the a.m. to get your news, gossip, and DailyWorth fix, and then log off. Do not come back on your lunch break or when work gets slow or before bed. If you’re worried about missing big news, set up Google alerts. I also highly recommend getting New York Times alerts sent to your phone.
Buying Household Goods on Amazon.com
The danger of the “everything” store is that when you when log on to reorder paper towels, you also end up purchasing running shoes (because they’re so cheap), four bras, and a couple of novels you’ve been meaning to read. Suddenly you’ve spent $100 when you meant to drop $15.
Instead: Don’t order household items online that you could very well pick up on the way home from work or on days when you’re running errands. You’re less likely to make an impulse buy when you have to walk in, find what you came for, and wait in line rather than just click.
Visiting Lifestyle Blogs
Lifestyle blogs, or “aspirational living” blogs, as I like to call them, are good for your Pinterest boards. They are not, however, good for your bank account. While clicking through a stylish blogger’s assortment of kitchen wares, you may find yourself suddenly thinking, “Why don’t I have a collection of porcelain floral trays on which to serve strawberry tiramisu?” A couple of clicks later, you’re at Anthropologie.com ordering whimsical teapots.
Instead: When you see something cute on a lifestyle blog, don’t click through to the store. Instead, search the item plus “DIY.” Then you can make that rustic serving tray yourself. Try mixing a few DIY blogs in with your lifestyle favorites, or — gasp — avoid the aspirational bloggers altogether.
Following Too Many Stores on Facebook
These days, everyone wants you to be their “friend” or to “like” them. Everyone from Victoria’s Secret to the wine shop around the corner has a Facebook page, and if you’re a “nice” person, you probably follow a ton. But “liking” too many consumer brands puts you in front of an obscene number of ads, specials, and sales, which you have to wade through to see your friend’s engagement ring or new baby. In one swift move, you’re typing “Congratulations!” and clicking on Barneys.
Instead: Only follow the brands you really, really, really like. If the brand can get only two “reallys” from you, they’re not worth it. Unlike. Now.
Worshiping Online Fashion Roundups
“The Best Skirts Under $100.” “The Best 7 Dresses Under $50.” Headlines like these are an editor’s nice way of saying, “Here’s how you can spend some money this afternoon.” And I know because we have pieces like this. Roundups such as these have their place; read them when you’re actively looking to upgrade your skirt collection or need a new work-appropriate dress for winter. But if your wardrobe is in good shape, then you don’t need a skirt under $100.
Instead: To satiate your hunger for style, try pieces that follow the “1 Dress, 10 Ways” formula. That way, if you do cave and buy the garment, it will be a stellar investment.
Searching the Instagram Hashtag #OOTD
Outfits galore come funneling into your phone when you search #OOTD, shorthand for “outfit of the day.” Bangles, chunky sweaters, the perfect pair of skinny jeans, and more are all there, usually courtesy of fashion bloggers who provide a link (possibly, quite probably, an affiliate link that makes them money) to where you can purchase these items. The only problem is, unless you need a pair of lace-up Alexander McQueen booties, it’s an easy way to drain your wallet.
Instead: Check out street-style blogs or street style on Instagram (I recommend the Instagram account of famed photographer Bill Cunningham’s assistant). You’ll still get to ogle the clothes, but there aren’t as many easy ways to buy them.
Trying to Get “Free” Shipping
If you have to spend an additional $30 or $15 to get free shipping — that shipping ain’t free. You actually paid for it three times over by purchasing items you didn’t even need in order to get it.
Instead: Pay for the shipping. Or make a running list of things you actually do need, to which you can refer before you sit down to place an order.