Micro Purchases Make Me Mega Broke

Amazon's 1-clickI’m an impulse buyer. I admit it. Lock me up and throw away the key. I never used to be that way, however. It wasn’t until a few years back when Apple and Amazon introduced their one-click purchasing schemes that I began filling up the house with gadgets, games and other oddities I never would have purchased in a brick and mortar store. You remember them–those are the big buildings with names like Sears, Macys and JCPenny, often clumped together in things called shopping malls.

Would I get dressed, drive fifteen miles, park my car, walk into the mall, grab that Indiana Jones box set, stand in line at the register, pay, and then drive all the way back home again? Heck no. But I would press the Buy Now button on my smartphone without thinking twice about it.

It’s not until the end of the month when the credit card statement arrives that I realize the financial orgy I had been engaged in throughout the month. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft–oh, I feel so dirty.

I know it’s not my fault. You can’t buy an app, play a game online or watch television without something popping up offering the latest Flo Rida ditty for $.99 or that killer new map pack on Modern Warfare for only 1600 Microsoft Points (whatever that means). Ninety-nine cents doesn’t look as scary as $1.00, and 1600 Microsoft Points certainly doesn’t look as foreboding as $20.00. And if you have little children, watching them walk away from you while playing a demo on you phone is akin to giving them your car keys and watching them drive away. One-click purchasing and their Cheeto-stained, greasy fingers can cost you your entire life savings in a matter of minutes.

So micro purchases and 1-click buy buttons are the devil’s work, now what?

Make It Harder To Buy Apps

In order to stop hemorrhaging cash, you need to be proactive and take measures to minimize your buying habits. The more inconvenient you make it for yourself, the less likely you are to make spontaneous purchases.

  • Turn off in-App purchases. One of the easiest things you can do is disable those accidental and impulse purchases. You can do this on your iOS device (iTouch,iPad,iPhone, etc.) by going to Settings>General>Restrictions. Click Enable Restrictions and then scroll down to the Allowed Content section. Turn off in-App Purchases.
  • In Amazon, you can turn off 1-Click buying by logging into your account and going to Your Account>Settings>1-Click settings. You should see a button to enable or disable this setting. Disable that puppy.
  • Use Amazon Gift Cards to put yourself on a monthly budget.
  • Unlink your credit card from Microsoft and Sony game consoles. If you have teens (or if you just don’t want your credit card number floating around in cyberspace), you can buy Microsoft Points from Amazon and unlink your credit card from your gaming account. You can also do the same for the Playstation Network.

You’re not doing anything here you can’t quickly undo. Making these simple changes is about modifying your behavior. Impulse buying causes a cascade effect you might not see watching TV between your splayed feet while reclining in your favorite comfy chair. Click that Buy Now button and somewhere in the world another child is put to work in the factory, energy and fuel are used to package and deliver that item to you, resulting in a larger carbon footprint and the inexorable build-up of greenhouse gases that rapidly thaw the polar ice, drowning baby penguins. Don’t drown baby penguins.

If you’ve seen the light, or the bottom of your wallet like I have, let us know what techniques you use to stop those impulse buys.