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Perceived Overspending Risk

This risk is about the ease of shopping online and how easy it is to overspend beyond one’s budget. Many older people interviewed were retired and had financial limitations and were very conscious of their spending habits. This risk perception includes concerns around the need that ICT products and software need regular updates and upgrades. In addition, the growing cost of staying connected, either through a less optimum connection services or a reluctance to upgrade devices causes concern.

For Rosa, these perceptions of risk manifest in the following ways:

Example 1

Example 1

Rosa 2
“I worry about spending too much when I’m shopping online.”

For some seniors, it is harder to compare things online, and they end up spending more on one item than expected. For instance, Rosa bought shoes online, but they didn’t fit her. She had to pay the postage to return the shoes, but her size was out of stock by this time. The company wouldn’t refund the money and gave her store credit. She is worried about buying another pair of shoes and that she’ll forget she has this store credit. Now Rosa won’t buy anything online as she’s too fearful that she’ll be out of pocket and is spending too much online.

Example 2
“Overspending is easier online than in a regular store.”
Rosa 3_edited

Example 2

The overspending risk was expressed by many older people talking about how easy and quick it is to purchase something online with one or two clicks. For instance, Rosa increased her online shipping during the covid pandemic. She got used to buying everything online and continues this habit despite being able to go to the stores again. She often clicks on additional items because they are on discount, or she needs to get to a certain amount to receive free shipping.


Can you relate to those example above?  Go to strategies to learn about how Rosa can address these issues.

Strategies to Managing Perceived Overspending Risk

Overspending risks are aligned both with the person’s ICT ability and the person’s confidence to overcome the perceived risk and try to engage with the digital device. There are individual strategies people can do themselves to manage this risk, as well as relational strategies which consider the role of social influence on a person’s ability to try new things and interact with ICT.

Rosa Strategy 5

Individual Strategies for Managing Overspending Risk

Rosa Strategy-1


Apps. Remove spending apps from your phone or tablet to reduce temptation. Also, be wary of apps with a free subscription for a limited period, as you are likely to forget to de-register from them. Some apps charge hefty annual or monthly fees, which you pay when your trial period is over. If you are disciplined with setting dates, then use a calendar reminder to let you know the time is up.


Press unsubscribe. Reduce purchase temptations by unsubscribing to promotional emails.


Take your time. Give yourself time or at least a day to “cool” off and think through a purchase to determine whether you really need it.


Budget. Develop a budget for online expenses. Try to stick to it as it will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Consider using an offline shopping list before going online and stick to it.


Debit cards. Use debit cards rather than credit cards. This limits your purchase to the available amount on your cards.


Go to the shops. Disruptions such as the covid pandemic may result in new habits. If you are stuck in an online shopping loop, try going to the shops at regular times of the week before the urge to shop online comes. Regaining your old habits may take time.


Mindset. If you’re exhausted, bored, depressed, anxious, or struggling with mental health, avoid browsing your favourite online stores or scrolling through retail lists. As a rule of thumb, avoid spending on stressful days or when in a bad mood. Negative emotions can reduce the cognitive ability and increase impulsiveness, making it hard to control spending.


Overspending temptation. If you are an overspender, do not trust yourself to stop the behaviour. Delete apps that might be tempting or contain easy-to-purchase, one-click shopping buttons.


Advert blockers. Set up website advert blockers, so you are not inundated with adverts and different products.


Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your account for any unusual spending. You might overspend by accidentally subscribing to services that you don’t need.


Do your research. Compare products and research options to ensure you get the best value for your needs. Make sure you ask questions to help you understand your product needs. Do you really need to upgrade your software? Do you need to improve your internet connection speed? These extra costs may play a role in your overall budget.

Relational Strategies for Managing Overspending Risk

Rosa Strategy-2


Seek assistance. Share your concerns about spending with family and friends. They might help you come up with managing strategies that work for you.


Discuss your challenges. Share your online shopping experiences and spending concerns with your family and friends. They might help you come up with managing strategies that work for you. You can also learn from their experiences with overspending.


Budget buddy. Follow a budget and create social barriers to make it harder to shop. For example, find a friend who accepts to be called every time you start engaging on a bigger purchase. They may help keep you accountable for your purchase.


Ask questions. When in doubt about something, consult family and friends about the nature of the product, service, or app. It is often a good idea to cultivate safe places where family members and friends can chat about tech issues, such as overspending.


Apps. Ask someone you trust to go over your subscribed apps and, with your permission, delete anything that might be costing you too much.


Consider joint purchasing. Some software comes with licences that allow use in 3 or 5 devices. Consider buying these licences with friends.​


Courses. When joining computer courses for seniors, share your overspending or budgetary challenges with others. Chances are you are not alone, and others may have tips on how they manage it.
Anker 1

You may be interested in
Other potential risks
that Rosa is facing:

will this digital device work the way I want it to – it includes forgetting instructions and managing passwords.
concerns about feeling incompetent, getting frustrated and being overwhelmed with digital technology.
fears focused with online payments, losing privacy, identity theft and automatic payments.
worries about online transactions, not receiving the purchased goods and processing errors.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
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