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To stay on budget, click ‘unsubscribe’

Erica Sandberg

You’ve worked hard to create a budget, so why let your inbox lure you into overspending?

Amidst all that personal correspondence are advertisements – temptations really – from your favorite retailers. The emails are so tailored to your desires (and purchasing history) that often you can’t help but be swayed to spend more than you intend.

Oh, and because you’ve bought from these retailers before, your credit card is on file. It’s all so easy and enticing. Soon you’re hitting the “buy” button.

I’m with you. Here’s a peek at my inbox and the  companies that send me seductive messages at least once a day:

  • Secret Escapes: The images tease my senses – photos of azure seas, sumptuous hotel rooms and private infinity pools get me daydreaming of luxurious trips far outside my means. The fact that the escapes are deeply discounted only makes resisting more difficult.
  • Sephora: Offers of cosmetics, skin care and other beauty products along with free samples (if you just spend over $29 or some other arbitrary figure) do me no favors. I really don’t need any of it, but the emails make the beauty products seem so much better than the ones I can find at the drugstore.
  • Groupon: Whale watching tours, chocolate cooking classes, spa packages, lobster dinners and more (much, much more) are all too interesting and at discounted prices too good to pass up. When these adventures and escapes from the everyday are less than half price, hold me back.

When I discussed these buy-now-and-save-big emails with friends, they told me they also have a tough time sticking to their budgets due to near-daily messages from Birchbox, Gilt, Overstock and Zappos. These aren’t bad companies – don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful firms – but their pitches are all too tempting.

To be successful with your budget and resist splurging with your credit, restrict the way these messages come to you. Here’s what I did to take the temptations out of my inbox:

  1. Limit your subscriptions.
    Most retailers give you the option of reducing the frequency of or stopping their emails. Instead of a daily message, a weekly one may be ideal. Or just unsubscribe. When you want to shop, go the retailer’s site when you’re financially able to spend.
  2. Send the sales/specials messages to their own email folder.
    Maybe you want to get all of the emails for fear of missing out on some great deals, but having them mixed with important messages is leading you to blow your budget. Some email services, such as Gmail, automatically route these commercial pitches to their own folder. With other email systems, you can set up a filter to divert these seductive emails to a folder you might label “sales.” Either way, these alluring emails won’t be front and center. Remember, a cake in front of you is more likely to be devoured than one that’s out of sight.
  3. Go cold turkey – fast.
    Do you have so many subscriptions that unsubscribing to each would be a pain in the neck? Try a service like unroll.me to view all of your subscription emails and then unsubscribe from them in a flash.

What retailers are sending you shopping love notes that cause you to overspend, under-save or add to your debt? I want to hear from you. And if you’ve found a way to manage these commercial messages in a special way, let me – and everyone else – know.

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