You may remember that a couple of weeks ago Mat and I put forward our arguments for whether the internet is good at saving you money.
Now we all know how the internet has made our lives so much easier. In the click of a button or a touch of a smartphone we can shop around to make sure we’re getting the best deals out there.
However, inspired by our earlier argument, I’ve compiled a list of seven ways that the web can cunningly make you spend more than you set out to.
1. Amazon wishlist
Now you could argue that this is saving you money because you’re putting off buying it for another day when you might have saved up enough funds to pay for it. Yet even Mat will admit that at times he’s had a wishlist 18 pages long, full of items just waiting to tempt him.
Not only that but this list gives Amazon a clearer insight into your preferences and they’ll regularly email you with further temptations that’ll be right up your alley.
Signing up for newsletters can be a great way of keeping up to date with latest developments and receiving news straight into your inbox. It can be dangerous though – sign up to a few and the likelihood that the lure of your perfect outfit will land on your screen just before the weekend is pretty high.
Only the really strong willed can resist a ‘bargain’ that you wouldn’t have otherwise spotted.
3. Browsing in your lunch hour
You’re trying to save money by not spending at lunchtime. The packed lunch is ready to eat but you’ve left the book you’re reading at home and you already read Metro on your way to work. Surely the only way to avoid the shops is to stay in and surf the net right?
Wrong – with your settings saved in all your favourite websites you can buy things in an instant and the psychological effects just aren’t the same as handing over the cash at the till.
Ok, so you’re still in your lunch hour innocently looking at sites that you think won’t sell you anything. The problem is that even if you stay away from shopping sites, targeted adverts on social networks such as Facebook can easily sway you away from your initial intentions.
And again, you can spend a fortune quicker that traipsing round the shops.
5. Internet banking
I love being able to check my balance quickly and easily online. I also prefer using my debt card so I can track my spending by looking at my statements.
For people that find it difficult to budget it’s a double edged sword; internet banking can be both a godsend and a disaster waiting to happen.
Let me explain; you’ve seen the coffee table of your dreams that would match perfectly with the furniture in the living room. It’s in the sale but it’s still above your budget and if you don’t buy now it could be too late.
It’s now far too easy to cancel the standing order for the electricity bill so you can reorganise your budget and be able to afford the item sooner. This could set you back for months, and even worse, if you miss a payment on something that charges interest it could end up costing you a whole lot more.
6. eBay obsessed
Everybody talks about the advantages of eBay and the countless bargains that there are out there. But can it be a bad thing? Do you check it so often that you’re buying things that are cheap but you don’t necessarily need?
It’s best to live by the Martin Lewis’ MSE mantra:
If you’re not skint, will I use it? Is it worth it? Have you checked prices elsewhere? (If the answer’s no then don’t buy it.)
7. Playing the lottery
Gambling websites are everywhere these days and they’re targeted at audiences that wouldn’t be seen dead in a bookies. There’s much less stigma attached to gambling online and even more so with playing the lottery.
Stick your details on the National Lottery and you can set it to enter your numbers as often as you like without the drain of remembering to visit the local newsagents, making it ever easier to part with more cash.
There are probably other sins that I haven’t mentioned so we’d love to hear about the internet traps that you’ve fallen for too. How much money have you spent without meaning to because just because you logged on to the web?