War on our wallets

What does the shipping container and the internet have in common? 

The shipping container made it possible to move goods around the world ushering the start of globalisation. Then the internet came along and enabled the free flow of information for the masses.

Together, they brought on the greatest threat to our wallets in human history. E-Commerce. 

Almost every single day, we have packages and parcels delivered to our office of 7 people. The courier agents even know my colleagues by name. 

I suppose it should come as no surprise that Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba is the richest man in Asia while Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon is now the richest man in the world. Both of these companies along with many others rode the e-commerce boom to stratospheric heights. 

As someone who is trying to be frugal and only spend on things I need, I see the rise e-Commerce and mobile payments as a constant danger to my financial goals. 

My default strategy is to basically avoid the temptation all together. Out of sight, out of mind. But this is getting harder and harder. For retail shopping, I could just avoid going to the malls but online is totally different story.

Almost every social network have ads or people trying to sell you something. It’s very hard to browse the internet without seeing an advertisement or a sponsored post. And with re-marketing, these ads will follow you across different sites.

To make matters worse, marketers craft personalised deals designed specifically to get you to reach for your credit card. Armed with your browsing histories, interests and the power of re-marketing, they tend to win the battle for our wallet more often than we like to admit.

Another strategy I’ve employed is to evaluate the affordability of my potential purchase. Basically, I need to make sure I can afford it before taking the leap. This may sound rather basic but you’ll be surprised how often people buy something only to realise they can’t really afford it.

With credit cards and creative payment plans, it’s very easy for us to spend beyond our means. It’s actually quite hard to do this consistently and probably easier for bigger purchases like cars.

So my current strategy is all about sustainability. Rather than asking if I can afford something, I ask myself is this something I can sustain over the long term. It’s more about the type of lifestyle and person I want to sustain rather than the purchase itself.

For example, when contemplating whether to purchase a new gaming keyboard, I would go further and ask myself if I can sustain a gaming lifestyle in the first place. That will usually snuff the thought right out and save me some money.

But of course, this isn’t a silver bullet and I do end up buying unnecessary stuff from time to time. It’s a strategy that works best for me currently and I’m constantly on the look out for better approach. After all, this war on our wallets has only just begun.

Do you have any issues with controlling your spending? Is e-commerce the greatest thing ever invented? Share your thoughts below and do take a minute to subscribe to my blog.