By Dr. Jennifer Hunter
Welcome back to Money Moment, episode number 24, with your host Dr. Jennifer Hunter.
The convenience of online or cybershopping has a lot of appeal. Last year, consumers spent over $300 billion online, compared to $226 billion in 2012. As more and more purchases are made online these days, it’s important to know how to score the best deals. Today we discuss tips to save money when cybershopping!
Look for coupon codes before you buy
Coupon codes are normally a series of letters or numbers that you enter when checking out online. If you’re member the website’s mailing list you probably regularly receive coupon codes via email. If not, simply type the name of the online merchant and the words “coupon code” into an internet search engine. Typically, the coupon code will be for free shipping, upgraded shipping, or a percent off the merchandise purchase. Be sure to check the expiration date and details of the coupon codes. You maybe required to spend a certain dollar amount to receive the benefits.
Set up a separate email account for retail subscriptions
When checking out at the mall, are you consistently asked to provide your email address after the purchase? Although the idea of receiving extra coupons to stores where you shop is appealing, the idea of filling up your inbox with spam is often enough to make you pass. Consider setting up a free email account that you use only for retailers. You will not need to check the account often, but when you’re ready to make an online purchase, you can search the account for recent coupons.
Abandon your shopping cart (temporarily)
If you’re not in a hurry to purchase, consider leaving your virtual shopping cart hanging for few days. This is one of my favorite tips. If you’ve created an online account with a merchant, place your item in the shopping cart but do not complete the purchase. After day or two in limbo, a merchant will often email a coupon to encourage you to complete the transaction.
Be discerning about daily deals
Daily deal websites are growing in popularity. Daily deal sites offer products and/or services at discounted prices, often 50% or more off retail. Typically someone who has signed up for daily deals will receive either an email or social media alert to the deal of the day. There is no doubt daily deals offer the opportunity to grab some great items at significant discounts. However, you may also be tempted to buy an item or service that you do not really need or had not really planned on purchasing. Normally daily deals are offered for a limited amount of time and have limited quantities available, encouraging the buyer to make an impulsive decision in an attempt to avoid missing the big savings. If the daily deals is a product or service that you use often it may make sense to snatch the item quickly, but be cautious not just to click buy because it is such a great deal. Be certain that it is an item that you will either need or use.
Safeguard your identity
Remember to safeguard your personal information when shopping online. You are entering a tremendous amount of personal information: your name, phone number, address and so forth, not to mention your credit card information. Always make certain that you are using a personal or home computer for online shopping. Public computers such as those at work or the public library may store information that someone could potentially access later.
Use secure websites
Be certain that the website you are using is secure. Once you enter the shopping cart phase of the website, the web address should have an ‘s’ after the http. The ‘s’ indicates that your data will be transmitted securely. Also, be certain that you are using a legitimate retailer’s site. Knock off websites do exist and at times it may be difficult to tell the difference from the real thing.
Pay with a credit card
It is often suggested to use a credit card as opposed to a debit card when shopping online. When you pay with a credit card, there is a period of time between when you make the purchase and when you pay your credit card bill. This gives you time to dispute a charge if something goes wrong with the transaction. When you pay with a debit card you are authorizing the retailer to go ahead and debit your account. Most likely you will still be able to successfully dispute a charge but the money will be missing from your account until the dispute is settled.
Online shopping is a great convenience and it opens the marketplace. However, it is always a good idea to be a savvy online shopper, check for deals, and be certain to protect our personal information.
Thank you for listening today! Join us on the next podcast episode about preparing financially for a baby.