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How to save money shopping online

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Online shopping

Online shopping has never been easier. There are some great benefits to this for consumers, such as ease of delivering things straight to your home or work and access to a greater selection of products. However, it can be easy to overspend online when everything is just a few clicks of a button. Check out our tips on how to stay in control when shopping online.

Ask yourself: Do I really need this?

For a start, you should ask yourself whether you really need whatever it is in your online shopping cart. There is a huge movement in decluttering our lives and that includes resisting the urge to buy more things that will sit around unused. Is this something that will enhance your life? Will it be used regularly?

When in doubt of any online purchase, a great tip is to sleep on it. Avoiding impulse purchases and considering what you buy more carefully is a great way to manage your online shopping habits. 

Be wary of sales and special offers

There's a tonne of tricks that retailers use to pique your interest. Never-ending sales, percent signs all over. Telling you you must act NOW. This is how they get you! A special offer or promotion can be a great way to bag a baragin, and you should go for it. But sometimes companies are discounting items that are already overpriced, in which case it isn't the saving it seems or it's stock that they'vre struggled to get rid of - in which case, why are they struggling to sell?

The best advice is to be aware and shop smart. Compare prices across lots of different stores so you have a good idea of what's reasonable. If you're shopping for a specific item, you could use voucher code websites to find a discount on the product you are trying to find. 

And don't forget to check out things like delivery costs. The item you want might come cheapest at a particular store, but they add on a pricey delivery charge. Taking into consideration the combined cost might tell a different story about where to find the best deal. 

Big retailers use big data 

The Atlantic explored some ways in which retailers are tricking you to spend more. 60% of online retailers find that free shipping is one of the best marketing tools. If you get free shipping when you spend, say £100, it is easy to get distracted. You might end up spending more than you originally intended, just to reach that threshold of free shipping.

Gigantic retailers like Amazon are famous for complicated algorithms and personalised pricing. The latter may sound like a good thing. What it really means, however, is that pricing is optimised based on consumer data and even your own personal shopping habits. Their ultimate goal is always to get you to shop and spend more. This is where going back to our first tip comes in handy: Do I need this? And, also, is this actually a good price?

Set budgets and stick to them

Online shopping is dangerous for your budget because we're less conscious of how much money we're spending. If you shop with cash - it gives you a chance to really consider what you're spending and see the impact on your available funds immediately. And it's getting easier and easier to fall in the trap, with pre-stored card details that mean you don't even have to get up and find your card to make a purchase! How much is this adding up each month for you?

Consider including an allowance for online shopping in your monthly budget, so you know what you're aiming to stick to. This could even work well seasonally, so you could set budgets that reflect when you need to spend money on birthdays or upcoming holidays. 

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