8 Money Experts on How to Curb an Online Shopping Habit

Tips for getting the urge to buy under control

Anna Goldfarb
Forge
Published in
5 min readMar 5, 2019

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Credit: Pan Xunbin/Moment/Getty

I knew things were spiraling out of control when I had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of all the packages arriving at my doorstep.

I’d fallen prey to a few online sales over the holidays. I’ve usually been able to keep my mindless consumerism in check, so I wasn’t worried by each new urge to hit “buy” — I just did it. And then, a few weeks later, I found myself tallying up hundreds of dollars in purchases and fighting off a mounting sense of shame. The kicker? Most of those purchases are still sitting unused in my closet.

At its most extreme, an online shopping habit can take the form of compulsive buying disorder, or CBD — a behavioral addiction, like gambling or overeating, that affects an estimated 5.8 percent of Americans, according to a 2007 study. People with CBD (also known as oniomania, an obsessive or uncontrollable urge to buy things) report having a preoccupation with shopping, pre-purchase tension or anxiety, and a sense of relief following the purchase. But even for those who haven’t reached the level of pathology, the lure of online shopping can be hard to resist, especially because it’s so easy: Set your credit card info to auto-populate, and you don’t even have to get up from the couch.

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Anna Goldfarb
Forge
Writer for

Writes about relationships and pop psychology for The New York Times, Vice, and more. Author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through.” Lives in Philly.