In these strange times, most people are experiencing increased levels of stress, and financial anxieties have escalated for many of us. Whether it’s job insecurity or the loss of a job leading to a radical change in our financial circumstances, it’s difficult to know what we’ll have from one week to the next. As we’re all spending much more time online, and it doesn’t matter what we’re watching, TV streaming, Tik-Toks or YouTube, we’re all being drip-fed the content that drives our spending, whether we realise it or not.
Whilst we are all missing the high street experience, a bit of retail therapy is a good way to relax, some of us have taken comfort in a little (or a lot) of such retail therapy, but in these uncertain times, this has added to our worries.
Online retailers are increasingly offering the interest-free payment services given by Klarna and Clearpay and despite some recent criticism from debt charities, when used wisely, they can certainly help with these anxieties by making it easier to buy our ‘must haves’, but to what extent?
These ‘buy now pay later’ apps can lull us into a false sense of calm when spending, perhaps letting us get a little carried away, resulting in more stress, particularly three months later when we’re still paying for something that is no longer shiny and new.
Taking more control of our spending is one way to alleviate some of the anxiety and it can sometimes be as simple as asking ourselves if the stuff in our baskets is something we need or just something we want. It’s a small question, but there’s a big difference between a need and a want and understanding this, as well as getting into the habit of asking yourself that question, is a good way of stopping ourselves from getting carried away with our online shopping.
Although we can get carried away with online shopping at times, these apps can be a useful tool for dealing with emergency purchases, like replacing a smashed phone, or a new warm coat when the snow is suddenly falling! Great if you have the money for both, but if you don’t then this could be something that is causing the interest-free debt to pile up on the apps and giving you more anxiety and stress instead of less.
A good way to determine what you actually need to buy is by leaving things in your basket for a while, come back to it at a later date and decide if it’s something that is worth spending money on. For these things you want, really think about the affordability, and consider your other weekly or monthly commitments. Needs are much easier to decide as they are usually more important, like food or needed clothing items. It is still always good to consider the factors stated before, just to check it is something you need.
It’s easy to not think when spending, causing much more stress later on than is needed, especially in an uncertain time like this. Spending time thinking about what you are buying and how you’re going to pay can alleviate many worries and anxieties.