7 Steps to Save Money While Online Shopping
It is so easy to click your way into debt these days. Online shopping has created 24-hour access to a world full of unique products that we quickly load up into our digital cart. Before we know it, we’ve racked up a massive shopping bill and spent even more money on expedited shipping so we can get it all as soon as possible.
Although online shopping can be exciting, it’s unfortunately all too easy to spend vast amounts of money without realizing it. According to a survey by Slickdeals.net, the average U.S. consumer spends about $5,400 a year on impulse purchases, a problem that is often compounded by the ease of shopping online.
It is possible, however, to be smart about your online purchases and shopping habits and save money on the things you buy through the Internet. Want to learn how? Here are seven steps to follow if you’re looking to save money while shopping online.
- Always Shop Sale Items
The idea of shopping sale items may make you visualize haphazardly hung clothing on super-packed racks like in many discount stores. However, online shopping does not present this overwhelming picture. Immediately gravitating to the sale selection is your best bet when looking for a wide variety of options at a discounted price point. It’s easier than ever to browse through sale-priced items online, and you’re likely to find more choices than you would when shopping in a physical store. Online retailers discount their items quite often, so if you don’t see something on sale at the moment, you can always check back again a few weeks later.
- Check Groupon and Other Coupon Sites
There are plenty of well-known coupon sites that offer great deals for the stores you buy from. One of the biggest is "Groupon", which has a myriad of brands to choose coupons from - all of which are free to collect and use. Take a moment and scour these sites for deals. The time you spend will be worth it, especially when you see just how much you can save.
- Set a Spending Limit
It is important to set boundaries when you’re shopping online, especially if you have a tendency for impulse buys. Before you log in to do your online shopping, determine your spending limit and make sure to stick to it. This will prevent you from adding last-minute items to you cart that rack up your bill or blowing all your money on things you don’t really need. For example, if you give yourself a budget of $50 to spend on a new top from your favorite women’s clothing website, you won’t also be tempted to throw an extra $10 at some cute little accessories to go along with it. Commit to your budget, and your wallet will thank you.
- Subscribe to Mailing Lists from Your Favorite Stores
Brands and companies often send out exclusive deals and coupon codes to the customers on their email lists, so it’s best to sign up if you want to make sure you’re always notified of the latest sales. These promotional emails can get a bit much and clutter your inbox, but you can filter them out using Gmail, and check them out right before you plan on doing your shopping. Doing this keeps you from being constantly distracted by great deals, so you don’t end up purchasing things you don’t need just because they were on sale.
- Use Website Shopping Filters
As soon as you log in to your favorite shopping site, your very first move should be to use the built-in filters or sorting tools to adjust the price range of the displayed items. Simply doing this can eliminate the chances of you falling in love with an $85 dress that your wallet is begging you not to buy. Set up your filters and sorting based on the amount of money you’re willing to spend, as well as the types of items you’re looking to buy, and you’ll only see the products that fall within those parameters. This will also keep you from getting distracted by items you’re not looking to purchase at this time.
- Add an Item to Your Cart and Wait 24 Hours
Patience is a virtue and that virtue that can literally pay off when you’re online shopping. If you see an item that you absolutely love, but you’re not sure you’re willing to spend money on, go ahead and put it in your cart and wait 24 hours. If, after waiting, you’ve decided that you can live without this item, go ahead and remove it from your cart. This waiting period helps you avoid purchasing items that you regret later. There’s also another advantage to this waiting game. As Lauren Blesser pointed out in her blog “Bless’er House”, if you add something to your cart and let it sit there, the website might send you emails if the price starts to drop.
- Immediately Return Ill-Fitting or Unwanted Items
Ever purchase something online that ends up being not exactly what you want when it arrives? Whether it’s an ill-fitting item of clothing or simply not the color or size you were looking for, these unwanted items should be returned as soon as possible. Double-check the site’s return policy and follow the instructions carefully in order to send back your purchases for a full refund. This is especially important when shopping online for clothing like shoes. If you try on a pair of shoes and they don’t quite fit, most companies will let you return them for free and give you a full refund, provided it’s within a particular time frame, and the shoes don’t show any signs of wear. Failure to follow the return policy can leave you stuck spending money on items you can’t use, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully and send your package out immediately so that you get your full refund as soon as possible.
Online shopping is an incredible convenience and a very fun experience, but without proper planning or impulse control, it can very easily turn into a big drain on your bank account. By following these seven steps, you can save money on your online purchases and make the shopping experience safer and more affordable than ever before.