The Scary Truth about Online Shopping
In the last couple of weeks I have taken full advantage of the convenience of cool apps and online services. My ‘shopping spree’ of sorts began when I downloaded Uber onto my iPhone. After setting up my account by entering my credit card information, with one touch of my screen, a car arrived in minutes to take me to the airport. It was fantastic. No money was exchanged at all with the driver – not even the tip! My Uber transaction took care of everything!
During this time, I also organized a twenty person dinner party, and hired a chef from the fabulous site kitchensurfing.com. Again, no money ever passed from me to the chef. With a click of button, I booked my caterer of choice, and the food, set up, clean up & the tip was all inclusive in the Kitchen Surfing quote. They paid her directly, and it couldn’t have been a more successful night.
To round out my online spending jag, I really wanted a new pair of flip flops. Thanks Zappos! After looking at my options, I picked a cute pair of Rocket Dogs, and because I already had my account set up, two clicks on my iPad, and my flops showed up at my door the very next day.
Charge It to the Room!
All of this sounds terribly convenient – even brilliant – doesn’t it? And it is! But the truth is, when it comes to sticking to a budget, and keeping track of your spending, this new shopping frontier that we live in feels like the wild west.
A friend of mine described it as if you were staying in a hotel, and you go down to the pool for a drink. When the bill comes you just put it on the room. After a few mornings of room service, a couple of dinners – and don’t forget late night at the bar… When you go to check out, that awesome deal that you scored is suddenly a gut wrenching fortune!
Living in Oblivion…
It’s hard enough keeping track of your spending when you can swipe your credit card and get a hard receipt. As we all know, shoppers have been in credit card debt since the introduction of plastic. Add to the mix another layer that distances us from the act of actually spending money – not to mention getting email receipts that most people never even open- and well… it’s a recipe for DEBT DISASTER!
Get Organized & Be Diligent
As technology advances, there will be more shopping conveniences there to tempt us, distract us, and get us to spend more when we’re paying the least amount of attention to our bottom line. Even if you’re great with money, you could find yourself in financial bedlam if you don’t take the time to create a tracking system that helps you pay special attention to those purchases designed to make you forget they ever happened. Whether it’s a handwritten spending diary, printing and pasting your digital receipts to a piece of paper (not the greenest solution), creating an Excel spreadsheet, or using sites like slice.com, it’s imperative that you stay on top of your spending – before your credit card bill comes in the mail. If you want to stay on budget in modern times, it’s hard to go on an all cash diet – therefore you must get organized and be diligent…
Pay It Forward by Educating
Thinking back to my twenties, there’s nothing financially scarier than a twenty-two year old woman armed with a wallet full of credit cards in the store of her dreams. Add online accounts and apps into the mix, and the next generation is absolutely screwed. It is up to us Fab & Fru ladies to educate our kids about money as early as possible. Making a purchase online is not a video game! Teaching through example is one of the most powerful tools in helping educate our girls to be financially responsible adults – even in the age of uber conveniences.
Here’s to combining modern convenience with an old fashioned money mindset. Happy Smart Shopping!
What are your tricks to staying on budget in a digital world?