Everyone loves to do a little bit of online shopping. You can buy just about anything through the internet these days, with fast shipping all over the world. Yet the incredible convenience is offset by the dangers of poor money management while filling up your digital shopping cart.
The secret to managing your personal finances isn’t necessarily to cut out online shopping altogether. Truthfully, a few small adjustments are all you need to get you the most bang for your buck. By making your money work for you, online shopping can be an enjoyable practice rather than a financial nightmare.
Use the Right Card
How you make payments while online shopping will make all the difference when it comes to avoiding buyer’s remorse. You have to use a digital means of payment — often a card — so ensure you’re using the best one possible. There are a few differences between cards to watch out for.
First off is a credit card. Using a credit card while online shopping can be dangerous. Too many people get sucked into overspending and then incurring unnecessary debt and interest payments. However, careful use of a credit card can earn you points and bonuses on your purchases and even build up your credit score.
A debit card, on the other hand, is often viewed as the safer option since you can only spend what’s in your bank account. That means your online purchases won’t leave you with a financial hangover. Furthermore, a debit card with the right capabilities can make this option even more appealing. For example, a debit card with a round-up savings feature will slowly build up your savings account with every online purchase.
Stick to a Budget
Chronic online shoppers often struggle to follow a budget. Yet this simple pre-set guideline can save your skin when you’re wandering the e-commerce corridors. Even having a budget in the back of your mind can help you be more careful when it comes to spending.
Start by figuring out your monthly income and how much you need to devote to savings and necessities. If you’re online shopping for entertainment or pleasure, you need to calculate how much money is leftover after those expenses. You should never be spending more than your income can cover.
Through proper budgeting, you are making your money work for you. When you know you can pay your bills, set some money aside, and have some left for wants, you can spend without guilt. After all, what is life without making a few purchases just for fun? Part of the reason you work is so you can have money for the items and experiences that bring you joy.
Match Your Spending
Here’s an interesting challenge you can take on. Any time you make an online purchase, take it upon yourself to match that amount in savings. This will help you reflect on your spending as well as take the initiative by putting your money to better use.
Let’s say you buy a new $50 video game. To match that total, you could place another $50 into your savings account. This will help you build up a proper savings pool, a good sign of financial well-being.
Other ways you can match your spending is through smart investments, charitable donations, or even gifts for the important people in your life. You’ll look at online shopping in a brand-new way if you’re always using it to spur beneficial financial choices elsewhere in your life.
Apply Coupons at Checkout
Just because coupons for online shopping deals don’t arrive in the mail, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Instead, you’ll have to take a little initiative to reap these extra savings. Luckily, all you need to do is download a browser extension, and you’re all set.
Programs such as Honey and the Capital One Shopping Extension constantly scan the internet looking for great deals. When you’re about to make an online purchase, your extension of choice will apply any valid coupon codes it has uncovered. Even if it’s only a couple of dollars per purchase, all of that price-cutting adds up in the long run.
The best part is that there is no cost associated with coupon hunting. These extensions are completely free to download and use. Any savings you get come with zero fees, so you can follow your budget even more closely.
Watch Out for Deals and Promotions
In addition to random online coupon codes, companies will frequently have large-scale deals and promotions. If you’re planning to make a significant online buy, attempt to time it with one of these sales. You likely can’t postpone your online grocery shopping, but waiting to buy a couch when it goes on sale is well worth it.
Some promotions are held annually, making them easy to plan for. Cyber Monday, the first week after Thanksgiving, is an excellent time to buy new electronics. Labor Day is a great opportunity to look at new furniture and appliances. Specific companies even have their own sales days, such as Amazon Prime Day.
The convenience of online shopping can make it tempting to make your next purchase as soon as possible. Planning and waiting just a little bit longer can lead to much better buying decisions.
Online shopping will continue to grow in the coming years, and you’re likely to be among its practitioners. But even as you join the e-commerce hordes, remember to keep your head, financially speaking. Developing a good plan and mindset now will help you out tremendously in the future.