May 13, 2014

Guest Post: 5 Online Shopping Habits to Avoid

It’s no secret that online shopping has changed the way we do business. In fact, many people enjoy this method of shopping so much that they rarely make a purchase any other way.
While it certainly has its conveniences from exclusively online discounts to the obvious ease of shopping from the comfort of your own home, a number of bad habits can be developed right along with the advantages. It’s important to make sure you’re responsible when shopping online or you’ll set the stage for a number of unpleasant consequences.
Whether you’ve been a regular online shopper for years or are just starting to get into the habit, it’s essential to avoid the following five habits:

1. Abusing Your Credit Cards 
At the store, cash or debit card might be recommended, but the internet is a different place. Cash is obviously not a viable option in cyberspace, but you should know that using debit cards is not advisable for security reasons. In case of fraud, you can be liable for up to $500 if the theft goes unreported for more than two days. However, credit cards provide an extra layer of security and so only make you liable for $50 for any and all unauthorized transactions. In short, credit cards can save you money—in more ways than one. Just don’t topple credit upon credit without paying them off promptly. Then it’s overuse.

2. Falling into a Cycle of Discounts 
Retailers know every shopper loves a good sale. That’s why your inbox is constantly bombarded with emails containing special discount codes and promotions of one-day sales, enticing you to head to the store website and do some impulse shopping. This can quickly turn savings into wasteful spending. If you don’t trust yourself to have the self-control to ignore these messages when you don’t need anything, simply unsubscribe from the mailing lists.
3. Making Purchases from Unknown Sellers 

Online shopping helps many small businesses market their products and services to people across the world. That said, many scam artists take advantage of this by creating fake stores, taking your money, and maybe even stealing your identity. Avoid falling into this situation by only shopping from businesses you recognize. If you must make a purchase from an unfamiliar seller, research the company online first to ensure it’s legitimate. When possible, see if you can pay with PayPal instead of your card.

4. Failing to Return Unwanted Products 
Shopping online is undeniably convenient, but it can also be tricky when you can’t see, touch, or try on your purchases before buying. It’s okay to not love every product you order online when it arrives at your doorstep, but it’s essential to return these products and get your money back. Whether you mail it back to the store or take it to the nearest retail location is up to you, but be sure to make the return.

5. Succumbing to Impulse Shopping 
When you’re browsing online out of boredom, it’s easy to find a lot of things you like and even easier to purchase the item with a few simple clicks. Before making any purchase online, leave it in your cyber shopping cart and come back to it. Many stores allow you to create wish lists of items you’d like to have but aren’t planning to purchase that day. You can even create a board on Pinterest of items you’re thinking about buying. Whatever you do, don’t act immediately. Take the time to think about whether you really want it, if you can afford it, and check around to make sure you don’t already have something similar.

Final Word 

Online shopping can serve as a great resource, but it’s important to be smart with your purchases. It’s easy to pick up some seriously bad habits very quickly when shopping in cyberspace on a regular basis.

Spencer Tierney, NerdWallet

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