Online shopping is quick, easy, and has the potential to save you a lot of money. When you usually go out shopping you aren’t just spending money for the things that you planned to buy. You’re also spending money on gas, food, and impulse purchases that you may not even think about. With online shopping you don’t have to worry about any of that. You’re not driving anywhere, you’re in the house with food that’s already been bought, and with online shopping’s search engines, you’re probably only going to see the products that you want to see.

Online shopping also saves you money with individual websites’ promotions and deals. If you’re patient and wait for those deals, you can save even more money on your purchases. But how do you know when these deals and promotions are available? You just need to sign up with the website’s mailing list, and whenever they have a promotion they’ll send you an email notification. They may also send you a list of recommended items based on your purchase history, which is also nice if you’ve been looking for something, but couldn’t seem to find it. You have to be careful when signing up to email notifications though. Depending on the website’s policies they may give your email to other websites. If you don’t want your inbox full of promotional email, I suggest creating a new one just for online shopping.

The best and most economic tool for online shopping is price comparison. A couple of examples are PriceGrabber.com and Decide.com, but there are other websites out there that can fulfill your comparison needs better than others. These price comparison tools can help you compare prices by using a number of comparable factors. They can use factors like new model’s launch date, and similar items with better reviews or better prices. They can also track the average and lowest prices over time and allow shoppers to set alerts that will send them an email when the item drops below a set price. Finally, almost every item or company online also has an accompanying coupon or promo code, so be sure to search for the one that will best compliment your purchase. For example, will you save more with free shipping or with 15% off of your total purchase? The little bit of extra time and planning could help you save big.

Shopping online can be easy, but you also need to know when buying online is a waste. When you buy products online, you always need to take into account the shipping fees. The product may seem cheaper online, but if you add the shipping fees it could cost more than you initially expected. If this happens, try and see if the product is sold in a store near you to save money.

Note: It is important to fully research an online shopping site in order to determine if your personal and financial information is safe, and that the company will deliver what they promise. Oftentimes shoppers are scammed into a money transfer and never receive their product, or worse, are victims of identity theft, so just be cautious.

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Another useful resource to avoid misspending your funds is the customer reviews. Most items on the online market have been bought by many people before you, and depending on the quality of the product they can leave a positive or negative review. These reviews can help you decide whether or not the product is worth the money that it is asking for, but be careful to read at least the first ten to better weigh your options—you never know when someone was having a bad day.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being a practical and frugal shopper. While shopping online certainly is not your only option, it can definitely make life easier when done correctly.

*Guest Post* – Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping consumers save money with the best rewards credit cards.

Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for AdvantageCCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.