By Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor at FAME, one of Maine Jump$tart’s foundational partners and sponsors. Reposted with permission from Munchies, Money, and Mumblings.
You read that right. I deleted my shopping apps and I’ve never felt simultaneous relief and fear in this way before. Now, if you’re a reader of my blog, you will know that I had a post called “Too Lazy to Shop” where I celebrated the ease of online shopping and delivery, so before you call me a hypocrite, know that I see this contradiction. I didn’t say I am never going to shop online again, or that I’ve renounced delivery, because it’s 2020 and the convenience of the internet is not to be ignored. That said, I deleted the apps from my phone to take away the temptation to buy online.
There’s a difference.
We live in a “one-click” world. Millions of products at our fingertips at all hours of the day and night. A constant bombardment of ads based on our shopping habits (or, literally, what we say). Instagram influencers and podcast hosts pitching us products they swear they have tried themselves and love (for real though I love my Quip toothbrush). How are we not all compulsive shoppers? I understand that this is capitalism, I get how it works. And I like buying things! But I’m a) trying to save money and b) mad at Amazon. I know myself. Having these apps makes it so easy to shop for shit I don’t need and it’s better out of site, out of mind. I didn’t delete my accounts, just the “at-the-ready” ease of an app.
The psychology of spending is also intriguing to me, particularly where retail shopping is concerned. Until The Great App Purge of 2020, I also had all these cash back apps. Now, I still have the accounts for when I do make purchases, but I deleted these apps too. The problem is, it was too easy to convince myself to buy something because I always had the “but I’ll get cash back!” mindset. I’m certain it made me buy more, and I am certain that’s how they hook you. An app notification of “Amazon, 10% cash back today,” worked and drove me instantly to the site for something I didn’t need or could have bought locally. NO MORE.
And on the subject of buying locally vs. Amazon, I have THOUGHTS. I’ve obviously known for a while that Amazon is shady, but it wasn’t until I listened to a podcast episode of Bad With Money with Gaby Dunn (I highly recommend this podcast) that focused on Amazon that I really saw it for what it is: an evil empire. Bezos might as well be Palpatine, ordering around clones to work in warehouses and sling products for the dark side (can you tell we’ve been watching the Mandalorian?). I had known about the deplorable working conditions in the warehouses and the fact that they paid no taxes and that Bezos is scum, but the monopoly it has on consumerism was the last straw for me. I’m officially boycotting. I’m canceling Prime and now I am on record saying so. I realize it won’t do much to “dismantle the machine” but it will save me money and make me feel better.
If it wasn’t already evident from this blog, I’ve got a complicated relationship with money and shopping. It is NOT going to be easy for me to completely disengage from online shopping, but thinking about the evil Amazon monopoly, and the fact that so many of these apps prey on our (my) fragile psyche about having things & stuff, makes it a little easier. I want to be more intentional and deliberate about shopping. We’ve already started menu planning before we grocery shop, which I know has saved us tons of money! Today, I finally got sick of all my pants being too big (a good problem to have) so I went to the local Goodwill. I used to be so much more thrifty, and having more money for some reason meant that went by the wayside, but today’s pants victory changed that! I got 3 pairs of pants that actually fit and are good brands, for $20. I am a Goodwill Club Member which means 10% off every time and 20% on my birthday!
We also got rid of redundant streaming services and are taking advantage of coupons for groceries, freebies (Disney+ one year for free with Verizon Unlimited; free Google Home Mini w/ Spotify premium) and building our savings to get ready for buying our home. But the freedom I feel in not having those apps stare me in the face is outweighing my worry that I’ll end up spending more because I’m going to a store. I do know I’ll be shopping less over all and more strategically, so saving money is inevitable.
Tell me, have you canceled anything or swapped services? Are you boycotting Amazon, too? Is there some sort of support group we can attend or form together? Tell me how you’ve changed your shopping habits!
The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the Maine Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.