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Having the accessibility to buy everything you need from the click of a button is one of the best and worst things to happen for shoppers. The added convenience is great, but it can also make it way too easy to break your budget and spend way more than you needed to.
When you shop in a store, you have to actually manage being able to carry all of the items and you watch your shopping cart fill to the brim, whereas when you shop online you have the freedom to fill your metaphorical shopping cart with an unlimited amount. That’s why you should never go into an online shopping spree without being informed and setting out a plan. Before you ever start shopping, make sure you follow these five tips.
Define Your Budget
Never start a shopping spree without a budget. Whether you’re shopping for one item in particular, looking to restock on necessary supplies, or treating yourself, you should have a budget in mind for your expenses.
This doesn’t need to be stiffly calculated, but it should be something you think about beforehand. Consider how much you can afford to spend based on your amount of disposable income, lifestyle, and what’s reasonable. If shopping for a week’s groceries is costing several hundred dollars, you may need to do some evaluation and restrict yourself to a smaller budget.
Prospect for Your Top Retailers
Depending on what you’re shopping for, you’ll want to find the best places to search for your items. Doing a broad Google search for an item like “red t-shirt” will pull up thousands of options from hundreds of retailers and be way too overwhelming. With time, you’ll find your trusty resources that you go back to again and again.
If you don’t know where to start, scour comprehensive guides that do all the hard prospecting work for you. Typing queries for “best of” items will give you a great place to start and typically will provide detailed information on the retailer and buyer experience.
Deep Dive for Coupons
Now that you’ve nailed your budget and found the retailers that provide the items you need, it’s time to figure out how you can save the most money. There are a few great coupon sites like Retail Me Not and Coupons.com that you can go to when you’re looking for savings on specific sites.
If you have time and you don’t have an urgent need to purchase the item, you can go explore the site, add the item to your shopping cart, and abandon the site. It’s likely the retailer’s marketing team monitors how often this happens and offers promotions and discounts in retargeting campaigns. You can also sign up for the retailer’s newsletter and likely receive a coupon code soon. Most sites also usually offer a small discount on your first visit to the site, so be sure to take advantage of that as well.
Seasonality can also play a large impact on pricing. During holidays and popular retail seasons, retailers typically offer discounts or bundle deals with free add-on items. Be smart about when you shop so you can always score the best deal.
Make Sure You’re Getting Good Bang for Your Buck
While discount sites can be a great way to pinch a penny, it can also be a way to increase your likelihood of receiving a low-quality item. Skimping where you can is useful for your shopping, but there are some key items that are worth splurging a little extra on.
When you’re looking into items you need to last a long time, be sure to do the extra leg work by digging into reviews and truly analyzing how much you need to spend. Generally, it’s best to avoid the lowest and highest ends of the cost spectrum as you can get decent quality products in the average price range. As a quick guide, here are some items worth splurging on and great resources for diving into reviews:
You spend one-third of your life sleeping and you’ll want your mattress to be high-quality and durable to last the full 10+ years of its lifespan. Mattress Advisor is a great resource to check for reviews before investing in a mattress you buy online.
Dealing with a broken washer or dryer is a large pain and you usually end up just replacing it when it breaks anyways. Be sure to pick good quality machines that will be durable and long-lasting. Good Housekeeping has a great guide with the top options for 2019 from cleaning experts.
What you fuel your body with plays a large role in your overall health. Eating healthy typically tends to cost more, especially if you invest in meal delivery services. Before choosing a meal delivery service, do the research to find which will work best for you and your budget.
The internet can be a dangerous place for phishing and scams. Any time you’re purchasing items online, be wary of where you enter your credit card and other personal information. Always be sure that you have established a safe connection, trust your merchant, and avoid deals that seem too good to be true as they are likely a scam. For more safe shopping tips, check out this guide from Webroot.
Online shopping can be a great added convenience in your life when done correctly. Be sure to follow these tips for smart online shopping and you’ll be able to save money, get the best deals, and protect your privacy.