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How to Curb Your Shopping Addiction This Holiday Season

By Ong Zhi Yi  •  LinkedIn

From the ever-changing COVID-19 measures to a seemingly endless finals grind, we’ve finally conquered yet another trying year! Many of us are looking forward to retail therapy as a reward for ourselves, especially with attractive promotions during the upcoming year-end sales. But in the excitement to cop the latest drops and the best deals, it’s easy to get carried away and overspend beyond one’s budget. 

Black Friday, 10.10, Singles’ Day and more –– it’s almost impossible to escape the rabbit hole. Online platforms have made shopping so much easier, especially when we try our best to stay home during the pandemic. You’re not alone if your expenditure tends to increase drastically during this time of the year.

My Experience

Flash deals, add to cart, check out your items – you know the drill. PHOTO: Pexels

As I think about it more rationallyI now realised that I’ve made so many unnecessary purchases during the recent 11.11 sales. Did I even need that sunflower dress, when my closet is literally overflowing with clothes? Or six months worth of contact lenses, when I don’t even wear them that often? Yet, it’s so hard to keep my finger off the “Buy Now” button when the promotions seem sooo attractive.  

Determined to rehabilitate my overspending habits, I opened my laptop and did some research on tips and tricks to curb my shopping addiction.  I tried them out (so you don’t have toso if you’re struggling to keep your expenses in check, read on to find out what works best! 

1. Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails  

Flash deals just for you, only 2 pieces left, ends midnight! We’re all too familiar with these emails that fill our inbox to the brim. Businesses lure you in by creating flash deals which are typically time sensitive. This is what marketers call the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) strategy; humans are risk-averse beings, which means that we don’t want to regret passing on these seemingly good opportunities. This way, you’re more likely to make impulse purchases, especially under time pressure. 

The truth is, these flash deals happen more frequently than we think. Just look at the number of marketing emails that are sitting in your inbox right now. Furthermore, companies attempt to personalise their emails by analysing their customers’ online behaviour, which means that they know exactly what you are interested in and how to persuade you to make these purchases.  

As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Removing yourself from the mailing list is super easy; all you have to do is click ‘unsubscribe’ so youll no longer be reminded of all these flash deals that you’re “missing out” on. Zalora used to be one of my most used apps, but now it’s just idly sitting in my phone. Imagine the amount of money that I’ve saved from that!  

Alternatively, you can create a separate inbox so that you won’t be distracted by these emails when doing work. Plus, who wouldn’t want a neat and tidy inbox?  

Effectiveness: 4/5 

2. Click ‘Add to Cart’ or Favourite itInstead of Buying Immediately  

Apart from attractive deals, a lot of us make impulse purchases just to feel better after a rough day. Heightened emotions trick our brain into thinking that we need that item. But the high from retail therapy is only momentary, so it’s essential for us to set aside time to really ponder over whether the item is a necessity or just a want.  

Don’t rush into checking out your items. Hit the “Favourite” button and pause to think about whether you really need that particular item, and if you already own something similar. Your “cooling period” should last at least one night. If you really need the item, you’ll return to it after a few days. 

Imagine my shock when I opened the SHEIN app to find 80 items in my wishlist! Truth to be told, I can’t even remember why I wanted half of these items in the first place. If I bought them all in the spur of the moment… I don’t even want to think about the damage on my wallet.  

Bonus: Remove your card information from your favourite shopping sites. We tend to spend more than we can afford because we can’t see our money leave our pockets –– also known as the “cashless effect”. 

It’s all about creating barriers to make online shopping less convenient for you. Removing your card information buys you time to rationally consider whether you really need this purchase. 

Effectiveness: 5/5 

3. Take A Break from The Internet  

Social media is especially popular amongst online merchants when it comes to advertising, as seen in the rise of marketplaces and shop features on these platforms. Moreover, seeing our favourite influencers represent different brands tempts us even more to get the products. Brands themselves also have their own dedicated page and they often market their products in a relatable and simply irresistible manner.  

Even when you didn’t intend to buy something when you first opened Instagram, it’s hard to say that you’re not allured to make a purchase after scrolling through countless tempting offers.  

The solution? Try going on a social media detox! According to HealthHub SG, taking out unstructured time spent on social media can improve your time management, and help you stay more focused on your work. Furthermore, going on a detox can give you a healthier state of mind, since the excessive use of social media typically promotes loneliness and depression.  

But beware! One of the top reasons why people even go on social media is to fill up spare time. And now that I’ve taken that away from my daily routine, I have the urge to go onto shopping sites or apps just to ‘scroll through something when I’m free. Just try to remember why you’re even going on a detox in the first place!  

What I did was to delete these apps altogether and focus on my finals grind. I told myself that I could only shop  at a healthy amount of course – after I had completed my exams. You can try having a little reward system too; it keeps you motivated in your work and you’ll feel even better when you’ve earned your shopping time.   

 Pro-tip: When you’re really itching to browse through these sites, remember to turn on incognito mode! Online merchants can’t track your browsing activity and in turn, can’t deliver targeted advertisements that will entice you.

Effectiveness: 3/5 

It might be difficult for us to totally detach ourselves from online shopping, especially when it’s the jolly season of gifting – to friends and family, and to yourself! But what’s important is to watch how much you spend, and make sure you don’t get more than what you need.

P.S. If you do need to get some new things for yourself or your family/friends though, NTUSU is bringing exclusive discounts and promotions for all students and staff! Look forward to amazing deals with brands like Charles and Keith, Hotel G, and F45 training. Head over to on Instagram for more details. 

And with that, U-Insight wishes you a very wonderful holiday season ahead. Happy shopping (just not till you drop)! 

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