How to stay money smart online
Australians can be known to be quite lazy, so imagine our delight when the world of online shopping was suddenly at our fingertips. No more dragging yourself to the shopping centre and walking aimlessly up and down looking for something really specific to wear on Saturday night. No more stalking the lanes of the Westfield carpark searching for the perfect spot that’s not too far from the entrance. Now we just need to open our computer or jump on our smart phones and find everything we’re looking for without having to get out of bed.
While online shopping has saved us from ever having to leave the house, it is an expensive habit. At least before online shopping was an option, the idea of physically going to the shops was enough to stop us from doing it all the time, now it’s just too easy to spend our money at the click of a button.
Online shopping absolutely has its perks; however, its biggest downfall is the fact that it allows Australians to be distracted from the fact they are spending money. When you have to take cash out of your wallet or swipe your card on an Eftpos machine, it’s more apparent that your money is diminishing. When you’re just getting carried away clicking buttons it is quite easy to forget that you are actually spending money and not just clicking buttons.
How can I save money while online shopping Australia?
This is why we’ve compromised some amazing tips for saving your money while online shopping. Like any addiction, it needs to be kept under control so some ways in which you can do that include:
- Look for coupons – if you’re on a retailer’s mailing list, you’ll probably receive all their specials and sales, however make sure you keep an eye out for further online deals through catalogues and social media. This will ensure that you’re not missing out on any prime shopportunities.
- Know when the sales are – most stores seem to roll out their discounts during the week when there’s less traffic coming through. It does depend on what you’re looking for – retailers are good for during the week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), flights are cheapest on Sundays, and Tuesdays are best for electronics.
- Use the right card – firstly, make sure you’re not using a card with a big surcharge so you’re not making the purchase more expensive than it needs to be, and secondly, you should check whether your card has an online merchant mall. This basically means that you can receive rewards by using that card to make your online purchases. Some cards that offer great rewards with your online purchases include:
- American Express
- NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card
- ANZ Rewards Black
- Bank Australia Platinum Rewards Visa
- ANZ Rewards Platinum
- Virgin Money Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer
- Take advantage of reward programs – some companies will use their app to offer you special deals in return for doing something for them (e.g. an online survey). If you don’t mind answering a bunch of random questions then you should definitely take advantage of these opportunities. An example of these sites is
- Compare the market – this may make you think of those talking meercats on TV but it just means to compare the prices of similar products on different websites and make sure you’re getting the best deal. A good comparison site is https://www.google.com.au/shopping
- Sleep on it – the beauty of online shopping is that it gives you the option to leave things in your cart and step away for a while. This means that whenever there is something that you’re not 100% sure about then you should take a day or 2 to decide if it’s something you need or not. Doing this will minimise your chances of wasting money on items you’ll only like for 5 minutes.
- Shipping – look for sites with free shipping and try to buy your products from the one supplier if possible, to reduce costs in shipping. Buying locally will also help you save money.
- Bookmark your favourite brands – you’e a brand loyalist, or even if you’e not, try bookmarking the brands that have worked for you because that might be where you find the deals.
- Work your magic with customer service – if you’ve just discovered a coupon code in your email and it expired yesterday, or you purchased an item and the next day it went on sale, you may be able to talk yourself into being included in those deals. Sometimes retailers will offer price-drop refunds for items purchased just before a sale, and sometimes they’ll also let you use expired coupons… sometimes.
- Be aware of your location – if you live in an upscale area, you could be at a disadvantage as retailers might mark up their prices for areas that seem more well off. Seeing as everyone has access to our location these days, you might try using a VPN or different IP address to avoid the issue.
- Clear your browser – some retailers are more likely to offer discounts to new customers so by clearing your browser or creating a separate shopping browser, you may be able to trick them into thinking you are a new customer.
These are some simple approaches to saving as much as you can while you have your binge session shopping online. When you’re saving money, and whether you’re bidding on eBay, buying off Gumtree, browsing on ASOS, or grocery shopping with Coles Online, it’s important to never make impulse buys and research the market before committing to a purchase.
What should I look out for with online shopping scams?
One thing to be wary of when online shopping is the presence of scammers. Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site. This is another downfall of online shopping as it gives scammers the disguise they need to rip people off. Some things to look out for include:
- A product is offered at a ‘too good to be true’ price or it’s advertised to have amazing benefits that seem a little unbelievable
- The retailer insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds or wire transfer. They may insist that you need to pay upfront for vouchers before you’ve even made a purchase
- An online seller or bidder has a poor rating or the seller wants to complete the sale outside of the website. If you go along with this, you will lose any protection the website offered you.
- The retailer doesn’t provide adequate information regarding privacy, terms and conditions, dispute resolution or contact details (e.g. illegitimate email address – Hotmail, Gmail)
Ways to avoid online shopping scammers
- Do some independent research on the website and check reviews from other customers
- Avoid making any up-front payments via money order, wire transfer, international fund transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency (e.g. bitcoin)
- Only pay for online items using a secure payment service (PayPal) and look for a URL starting with ‘https’
- Check if the website has a refund or returns policy and that their policies sound fair.
- Avoid clicking on pop up ads that can download viruses and other unwanted software onto your computer
- Don’t give out any personal information unless you know why it is required and how it will be used
Ensuring your online safety is very important when it comes to protecting your hard-earned money. You don’t want to make a purchase and get excited about its arrival only to find that you’ve been scammed out of your dollars. Money Smart offers some great tips on how to keep yourself and your money safe on the internet.
What happens if I get my online shopping item and it doesn’t fit or I don’t like it?
Well, this is why it’s always a good idea to sleep on any retail purchases you make so you can ensure it’s definitely what you want. If you receive your item and it doesn’t fit you then most retailers do offer refunds or exchanges however this is something you’ll need to establish before making the initial purchase. There is always the risk of the item not fitting due to the fact that you made the purchase online without trying it on.
The last thing we want to do is waste our money, so here are some tips on how to ensure your garment will fit.
- Take accurate measurements – most legitimate online retailers will provide the measurements of each item. This allows you to use measure yourself and then compare those measurements with the ones of the garment to find the size that will fit you.
- Make note of the retailers you’ve bought from – online shopping can be a trial and error kind of game so when you find a retailer with clothes that fit you well, make sure you remember the shop, what you bought and its size so you can go back in the future.
- Check the charts – once you’ve measured yourself, have a look at the stores size charts to figure out which size, whether it be S, M or L, is best for you.
- Find a trusted tailor – find yourself a tailor or a seamstress, or a friend or family member that’s good with a sewing machine, who is happy to make any necessary alterations to your online purchases for you.
Online shopping can make for an enjoyable pass-time and it can also make for an expensive one. By following these easy steps we’ve outlined for you, you’ll be able to ensure that you are getting the most out of your online shopping experience. If you don’t follow these steps and you don’t get the most out of your online shopping experience then give our lovely customer service attendants a call and find out how a Personal Loan Pal short-term personal loan can give you the help that you need! Our loans are fast, easy, flexible, and custom-made to fit your money needs! Apply with us today and find out how enjoyable (safe) online shopping can be!
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