You can save lots of money shopping online and avoid many of the incidental costs in the process. Shopping online can save you a lot of money for two basic reasons that you may not think about:
- You don’t have the cost of driving to the store. You will save on gas, wear and tear on your car, parking, etc. Nor will you have to take time out of other activities such as work in order to go shopping.
- If you don’t go to the store or the mall, you’ll be less exposed to merchandising and less likely to buy other things you don’t need. You won’t see the loss leaders and other gimmicks designed to make you pull out your credit card.
So shopping online can save you money to begin with and to add icing to the cake, there are some strategies that can help reduce the cost of purchasing through the Internet.
- Bundle purchases. Most online retailers will give you free shipping if you make an order over a certain size and many offer coupons for free shipping, which can be found with a simple search. You can either wait until you are ready to buy several items from the same place and place one large order or find that coupon.
- Buy used online. Before paying full price for something new, check eBay, Amazon, and Google Shopping to see if a cheaper used version is available. The shipping costs are the same, but the used version can be 50%-90% cheaper. This is especially true of paying full price for books and ink cartridges. Reconditioned ink cartridges from Cartridge World cost about one-third less than new cartridges and they work just as well.
- Use the lowest cost method of shipping. If a retailer lets you choose shipping, choose the cheapest option. The time difference usually isn’t that great and it can save you a few dollars.
- Always include your mailing address in your shipping address. You should do this because the cheapest shipper, the U.S. Postal Service, only delivers to mailing addresses. If you get your mail at some place besides your home, such as a P.O. box, include both that address and your residential address in the ship-to address.
- Take your time. Spending a little time looking around online will often enable you to find a really good deal. There are a lot of great bargains online if you’re willing to look.
- Always add the shipping cost before you make a purchase. That low price you see at many websites often doesn’t include the shipping cost. Most online retailers have a feature that lets you add the shipping cost to the final price. If they don’t, get out your calculator and do it on your own. You’re likely to be shocked by what the final cost is when you add the price and shipping.
- Be careful of online promotions, such as gift and coupon codes. Like many store sales and coupons, online promotions are gimmicks designed to make you buy. Always compare the price with other prices offered elsewhere. In many cases, basic discounters will get you a better price without all the hassle.