Impulse-Buying: How technology is making it easier than ever to spend money

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As household debt rises, so too are online innovations that aim to turn your wants and needs into stuff with minimal interruption. So how can we bring mindfulness back to buyer psychology?

This year, Slide 101 of Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report has a simple message: “Making Ends Meet = Difficult.” The bad news continues on the next slide, which states that household debt is at its highest level ever, and it’s rising. People are saving less (3 percent of personal income versus 12 percent 50 years ago) and the debt-to-income ratio is going up (to 22 percent from 15 percent over the same time frame). Many culprits are responsible for this shift, and we can thank technology for making it easier than ever to spend money. Innovations like one-click checkout, browser credit-card storage, and Amazon Dash buttons are swiftly eliminating the roadblocks that stand in the way of people purchasing things. And while these innovations are certainly creating a future when one’s wants and needs can turn into stuff without interruption, it’s also altering how people think about spending and saving (or rather, failing to save) money.

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