7 Online Shopping Mistakes that are Costing You Hundreds Per Year
7 Online Shopping Mistakes that are Costing You Hundreds Per Year
If someone from the future had told our parents that by the time we have children of our own we will be able to buy everything we need without ever leaving our home, they probably would have spent considerably less effort scouring every store for the exact item we had to have.
Imagine their bitterness when we call complaining that we had to spend all afternoon on our smartphone just to buy the kids Christmas presents, probably while wearing slippers and sipping a latte. Next time we want to complain, maybe we should pick someone from our own generation.
This is what we call a millenial problem. Let’s not add more fuel to the fire, lest they start with the mysterious mountain-top school-in-perpetual-blizzard they had to trudge to every day.
That being said, there are many ways to optimize your online savings to make it even easier to save even more of our precious money and time. And we’ve brought the biggest money mistakes being made today, along with tied-and-true solutions. No judgements here.
1. Not Knowing the Tricks of Google Search
There are many ways to expertly navigate Google to find what you are looking for. But not knowing these can waste time and money.
- Narrow the search list by country. Avoid getting sucked in to paying extra for shipping from other countries as well as lengthy wait times by entering the commonly used abbreviation for the country, such as “wooden train set:us.”
- Specify the site you want to shop. If you know you want a fat brain toy wooden train set, enter “train set:fatbraintoys.com” to avoid the multiple steps of going to the site and then searching for what you need.
- Similar Site Search. If the item you want is out of stock or overpriced, search comparable stores to find the best price for what you need by entering “related:fatbraintoys.com” to access stores such as as Educational Toys Planet and Bella Luna Toys.
- Use your subtraction symbol. Entering “Quality wooden train set -plastic” ensures you won’t get cheapo sets mucking up your results.
- Money Conversions. If an item is listed in euros, and you need it in dollars, simply type in “$79 EUR to USD” and google will automatically do the conversion for you, saving the extra step of first finding a conversion site.
- Sub an Asterisk for Unknown Words. When you want a specific item but cannot remember the exact name, the asterisk can come in very handy. If you cannot remember the type of wood the train set you’re after is made from, typing in, “Brio deluxe railway set * wood Toy Set” and google fills in the “beech wood” blank (yes, there are different wood types used).
2. Not Using a Savings + Cash Back Platform like Giving Assistant
At this discount site, you can earn up to 10% cash back on all purchases at over 3,000 of the most popular retailers while receiving exclusive promo codes and discounts.
The thing that truly sets Giving Assistant apart from other promo code sites is that you can also choose what percentage of your earned cash back will be donated to the charity of your choice and what percentage you keep. Be a humanitarian without dipping into your own hard-earned money!
3. Not Comparing Prices
Sites like PriceGrabber and Google Shopping are designed to scour the web for the best deals on a specific product. If you find the item you are after is out of stock on one site, or if you just want to make sure you’re getting the best available deal, copy the exact name of the product and paste into one of these search engines, such as “Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage Tower Shark Loop Racetrack 2 Vehicles Set
This one item is found at 57 different stores with the highest price of $116.23, ironically from the Prodicountprice seller on ebay. The lowest price of $89.88 including shipping can be found at both Walmart and Jet.com. It can really pay to compare.
4. Not Waiting for the Price Drop
These days our culture is all about getting exactly what we want when we want it. However, if you can manage to start hunting for your product a little earlier than you need it, you can check various sites such as yeswecoupon.com that feature price drops from Amazon and other stores updated daily.
Some of these sites allow you to select items to watch, and they will notify you when the price drops, so you can be sure to get the very best deal.
5. Not Typing In Your Budget
Avoid overspending on items that may be exactly what your loved one wants, but cost more than what you’d like to spend. If your teenage daughter has to have one of those trendy leather jackets that look like they have a hoodie layered underneath, typing in “Women’s leather 2 layer look jacket $30…$50” eliminates even the possibility of being tempted into something outside your budget. Only the search results that fall between your parameters will show up in your search results.
6. Not Doing Your Product Detective Work
After we find the item we want, most of us look at sizing and peruse the product reviews, but digging a little deeper can be a major payoff.
Here are some important things to check before purchasing your item to avoid being burned on a purchase:
- Verify Customer Review Authenticity. Are we suggesting that not all reviews are made by actual purchasers of the product in question who want nothing more than to help future purchasers avoid any pitfalls? Yes. Welcome to the (internet) jungle.
We like to think people are trustworthy, and undoubtedly some are; however, the fact is that many companies hire writers to post fake reviews on products they have never tested out themselves with biased opinions to boost sales. This can make it difficult to determine whether or not to trust a review.
If you feel like you really don’t have time to go to these lengths over reviews for a gift, one trick is to only look at 3-star reviews. Every product has outlandish tales, and a paid reviewer will always give 4 or 5 stars. These middle-of-the-road reviews will give you a no-nonsense take on the true pros and cons of the product in question.
Look carefully at Sizing Charts or Product Dimensions. Most of us at one point or another have purchased furniture that looks in the spacious showroom like it would fit perfectly in our living room, only to find that we cannot even get it through the door. Even if we managed to do that, it takes up entirely too much space. Or maybe we’ve been tempted into purchasing the cutest comfy-chic sweatshirt at an unbelievable bargain price, only to find that the “Adult Women’s Medium” is tight on our toddler.
The most effective lessons are often learned the hard way.
7. Not Properly Vetting Your Store
Finding out what you can about a site you purchase from can not only save you money, but it can also protect you from purchasing poor quality items and even identity theft.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid these common follies:
- Sign Up for Email Alerts and Newsletters Before You Purchase. Create a site account and sign up to receive the store’s email newsletters to catch all the store’s promotional deals and sale notifications. Don’t forget to check back from time to time to get the latest deals.
It is likely that the same day you sign up, you will receive a special discount promo. Wait for it to arrive in your inbox (or spam) before you check out.
- Understand the Store’s Return Policy. If you thought your tween daughter would look totes adorbs in the new Maxi Swing Split Boho Skirt from Hippie Rose, but when she opens it, her only response is “Is this really who you think I am?” Don’t stress.
By familiarizing yourself with the return policy ahead of time, you know your potential risk if something doesn’t work out before you make your purchase. Stores return policies vary widely with what situations constitute a refund.
- Know How to Avoid Being Scammed. You know the old saying, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is?” Just like being burned on specific products, most of us have also been burned by a less than ethical site offering “unheard-of deals.” Popular advertisements on social media feeds often feature “too good to be true” bargains. And they can be incredibly hard to resist. We know.
Remember the women’s sweatshirt that fit your three-year-old? Some sites are notorious for these types of sizing and quality issues. And those are best-case scenarios. There are many fake companies vying to lure you in with a “too good to be true” deal, only to try to steal your information.
In order to protect yourself from these types of scam artists and hackers, there are a few things you can do. Entering the store name into your search engine is the first step. This allows you to scan store reviews. One red flag to watch for is a store without any reviews. The sketchiest companies will change names often to prevent being associated with all the horrible things they’ve done.
A third way to tell if you may be falling victim to a scam is to watch your web browser as you click “check out.” Secure sites will change from a “http” URL to “https” during this process. If this does not happen, abort your purchase.
Online shopping has never been so convenient, and knowing how to to avoid the typical pitfalls can be the difference between scoring all the sweetest deals and compromising your financial security.
Now, armed with the wealth of the best deal-grabbing tactics, go forth into the world of bargains and conquer!