Are You A Big Spender or a Cheapskate?

istock_onlinespendingDo you freak out at spending $5 more than you have to? What about a price change at your favorite store – does that bug you? How about books that used to be $6.99 and that are now over $12? Here’s an example: the price of coffee. It was $6.99 a can last week – now it’s $8.99? You think to yourself, “That’s crazy!”

And then you turn around and plunk down $35 online for that newly launched ebook without even blinking or $97 for the big course everyone’s talking about. Maybe you make a donation for someone’s busted windshield or saving the whales while grumbling at Girl Guides over a $4 for a box of crappy-tasting cookies.

Money flies out of your pocket online, and you don’t mind at all. But when it’s in real life… Woo. Hang on a second.

It doesn’t seem to make sense, and yet this phenomena is something I’ve noted lately. People tend to disregard value of spending online while feeling concern over real-world prices. It’s tough to part with money when you’re standing in Wal-Mart, but in the virtual world, cash isn’t an issue.

I’ve found myself cringing over paying $24.99 for a new toy and then sending $500 through PayPal without even blinking. I’ve held back on buying a bigger monitor or a Mac, but I’ve spent $300 on books at Amazon in just minutes.

I don’t understand it. What makes it so easy to spend money online? What makes it so hard to do the same when we’re in a store?

Some say it’s easy to buy on the internet. Click a button, stick in your credit card information or use PayPal and away you go. I agree; ease of spending makes it a no-brainer to part with cash.

And yet, it’s just as easy to spend money in a store: One swipe of the card, and you walk off with whatever you want.

So making it easy to buy isn’t the reason. What is? What makes it so negligible for us to empty our wallets while we’re at the computer but so critical of pricing when we’re in the store checking price tags?

Compelling content, others say. Persuasive words and influential marketing make us buyers in a snap. We get lulled, wooed and scared into making purchases on the internet that maybe we should think twice about first.

But then, I look around stores that apply plenty of persuasive techniques and sales strategies, and I see just as many there. So that’s not the reason…

Social proof, maybe. We hang with crowds on the internet that spend money easily, so we learn that virtual-world spending is something we should do as well.

But then we see people in stores making purchases and don’t really feel that we need to buy what they do or spend in the same ways.

So I’m puzzled. I can’t put my finger on this huge difference between online spending and offline spending. Can you?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.