Many of us have found the ease and convenience that online shopping has to offer is sometimes too great compared to the hassles of in-store shopping. No parking struggles, long lines at the checkout, crazy people to deal with, and you get to shop from the comforts of your own home. There’s no doubt that online shopping is a much better choice for many of us.
But if you are one of the many people who have taken online shopping to another level and could be considered obsessed with it, there are a few money-saving tips and tricks you should know about. Here is our list of the top 50 shopping power tips you should know.
Smart Money Basics
- Always try to make a budget and stick to it. This will help you save money when you’re ready to check out.
- Just because you’ve allocated a certain dollar figure for your shopping spree, doesn’t mean you have to spend that much. You should always try to spend less than you expected.
- You probably keep track of how much you spend, but do you keep track of what you save? You should. That way you will be able to look back and remember where you’ve found great deals in the past. (Plus, it might be able to help you justify your spending sprees to your spouse.)
- There are so many apps available on the market these days, including some essential money-saving apps that you can easily download to help save you even more.
- There are lots of websites that will help you save money but they won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them. Learn how to work the daily deals sites to maximize your shopping savings.
- If a shopping site offers them, be sure to sign up for newsletters and special promos. These types of subscriptions can offer you special savings offers and most will email you to let you know when they are having a big sale.
- When possible, you should shop through a cashback or incentive site that will reward you in some way. Sites like shopathome.com, ebates.com, or bigcrumbs.com can actually pay you money for using their portals to buy what you were already looking for.
- If the site you are using requests that you create an account, do it. This can get you some valuable member-only deals.
Super Savings Tips
- If you are looking for an item that is available from many different retailers, try using a price-tracking website to pin down the best deals. Sites like become.com or frucall.com can help you find the lowest price among many different sites.
- When it comes time to check out if you’re not using a promo code to save money you are probably missing out on some great deals. Find the best online coupon codes at sites like couponcabin.com or retailmenot.com to boost your savings.
- If you do your homework and find the right sales, you can often save by getting free shipping. Look for sites that offer free shipping weekends or special sales that will allow you to cash in on this bonus savings.
- If you are shopping for something you use often and will likely buy more of later, look into buying in bulk. Sometimes this will end up paying for itself in the long run.
- Some websites promise that they will match any competitors’ prices. Try shopping with these retailers as much as possible and take advantage of these price-matching offers.
- Discounted gift cards are becoming more and more popular. You can often find gift cards to stores that are sold at a fraction of their face value. Just because it is a gift card, doesn’t mean you have to give it away
- Another great way to save when power shopping is to combine deals when possible. For example, If you are bidding on eBay and you win an auction, see what else that seller has for sale to see if there is something else you need. Oftentimes sellers will combine or reduce the shipping costs is you buy more than one item from them.
- If you are shopping for a particularly large or heavy item, shipping can cost you an arm and a leg. But many of the larger retailers like WalMart or Target allow you to save even more with an in-store pickup. This allows you to have the convenience of shopping online while avoiding the crowds and chaos in stores, but still save you money on shipping since you just drive to your local store and pick up your items.
Ensure Your Security
One of the easiest ways to ensure your transaction is safe is to be sure to only use familiar websites. Shopping from random or weird websites that you have never heard of could spell danger.
- If you can’t use a familiar website, then at least be sure to only use secure websites for your online shopping needs.
- When checking out with your items, try to use your PayPal account whenever possible. This provides an extra level of security between you and the retailer.
- Keep your passwords safe by keeping them somewhere other than near your computer workspace. If your browser offers to remember your passwords for you, always tell it no.
- One important way to ensure your online shopping experience is a safe and secure one is to keep your browser updated. This will help you on many different levels, but most importantly will provide extra security for your transactions.
- Many sites ask you for a lot of personal information including your address, phone numbers, banking information and more. Some of these fields are marked as “optional” though, so be sure to only include what is necessary and share as little information as possible.
- When buying a product online through a private party, avoid sending payment through Western Union or other payment systems like that. This is how a lot of thieves get away with their scams.
- When in doubt, check it out. If you have a funny feeling about how great a deal is or about the company itself, you can always go online to research the company.
- If you use your bank or credit card to pay for an item, be sure to watch your statements for several months afterward to make sure that nothing else was charged without your permission.
- In order for a website to be safe, it should be Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)-encrypted to protect your payment information. You can usually tell if a website is safe by looking for the padlock symbol near the address bar. Another way you can tell is if the URL begins with https:// instead of http:// before the website name.
- Always use strong passwords when logging into websites. A strong password should be one that would be difficult for anyone else to guess and should include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols.
- Like your mother always told you, when it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you find a deal that is suspiciously unbelievable, make sure you do your homework and look into the retailer thoroughly before providing them with any of your private information.
- Before using a new website to complete your purchases, you should always check the consumer review sites that offer fair and accurate reviews of the company by customers. These can provide valuable information and can keep you from ultimately being ripped off.
- One of the biggest keys to finding the best online deals is knowing when to shop. With a little research, you can easily plan your power shopping around special holidays. But this isn’t just Black Friday or Cyber Monday – there are also huge sales around many other holidays.
- Did you know that the best time to find deals on big-screen televisions is in January? Why do you ask? Because history has shown that huge electronics sales right before the Superbowl, pays off big for consumers and retailers. Additionally, many Department stores schedule their bedding, linens and housewares sales for January. If you can learn the tips and trends of whatever it is you are looking for and can wait until they are on sale, you could save big money.
- Don’t get sucked into the hype of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Many consumer reporting organizations say that these big sales dates have not been worth all the trouble in recent years. This is further demonstrated by the fact that there are many other similar sales throughout the year, especially for on-line shopping.
- If you have your eye on something, in particular, you can always look at what the retailer did in terms of sales or discounts last year around certain holidays. Oftentimes retailers will tell you what sales promotions they have coming up if you just ask.
- When possible, avoid the last-minute rush. Waiting until the last minute can cause some of the items you were hoping to buy to be sold out, or it may end up costing you more for rush shipping.
Questions to ask
- One downside of online shopping is that you are stuck with relying on pictures to ensure the item you are purchasing is exactly what you are wanting. But what if once you receive your shipment, you discover that the item is nothing like what you had hoped it would be? While many online retailers offer refunds or exchanges, there are still some that have a no return policy. Make sure you find out the return policy ahead of time so that you know what your options are if you’re not fully satisfied.
- Sites like eBay can be great for saving big money, but if you are unfamiliar with their site (or others like it), you definitely need to learn how online auctions work before bidding. Otherwise, you could end up being stuck with something you really didn’t want or need.
- If you’re not sure about something, ask questions before you buy. This is especially easy for auction sites like eBay, but if you are unable to get your answers online, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the retailer.
- Another downside to online shopping that you may encounter is the price of shipping charges. That’s why it is important to know how the item is going to be shipped to you ahead of time. You can request a less expensive alternative and this also allows you to provide special shipping instructions for different carriers.
- Many times we shop for a particular item because we saw someone we know with the item and it piqued our interest. If this is the case, ask that person where they got theirs and how much they paid for it. There are also other benefits to asking your friends such as special offers like“refer a friend” deals.
- It is perhaps most critical to educate yourself about the product you are shopping for. For example, if it’s a new camera you are looking for, don’t just buy the first cheap one you come across. Do some research on how it compares to similar cameras, the specifications on that particular make/model, and make sure it is going to suit your needs.
- While it may seem obvious, many people fail to make sure the item they are buying is the right size, color, shape, material, etc. before they buy. Not every website has the same sizing standards, so if they offer a sizing chart, be sure to take a look at it before you commit to the purchase.
- It is all too easy to get distracted by all the great online deals that are offered you, but it is important to try to keep your eye on the prize. Make Lists and keep them up to date. Make sure you keep items that you need separate from the items you want (wish list). Keep these lists handy as well as updated on a regular basis.
- Be sure to bookmark the best websites that you are able to find so that it is easier and faster to return to them later.
- Some of the biggest markdowns can be found on items that are not quite new. Whenever you are able, don’t be afraid to buy used. Other options could include buying the product display items at drastically discounted prices.
- So many of us are on Facebook or Twitter every day, yet we forget that this can be a great opportunity to find some of the best deals out there. Use Social Media whenever possible to network with your friends and associates to find out where the best deals might be.
- When you think you have your mind made up on a particular item, it never hurts to do a Google product search before you complete the purchase. Within the first few results, you should get more information on the product, tech and user reviews, and even online retailer options.
- Compare, compare, compare. Never settle for the first “discounted” or sales price you find. There are almost always more deals out there, some of them even better that you could be missing out on.
- If the retailer has a rewards or frequent shopper program, sign up and become a rewards member to further cut down on your costs. Often these types of web retailers offer their members exclusive deals not available to non-members like free shipping or a percentage off your next order.
- Just because you’ve found the item you want, doesn’t mean you have to buy it today. If you have logged into your customer account with a retailer, don’t be afraid to leave items in your “cart”. You may be surprised when you come back later how you didn’t really want some things after all.
- Finally, the biggest and best advice anyone can offer is to always use common sense when shopping online. Ask yourself if you really need the item, make sure you stay within your budget, and always do your homework to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
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Jennifer Leonhardi was born and raised on Catalina Island, giving her a unique small town perspective and focus on community. With a degree in Sociology, she now primarily enjoys writing, largely based on her own experiences, on topics such as financial assistance programs, issues concerning the home and family, and socioeconomic trends.