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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
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3 tips for shopping online this holiday season


My shopping experiences have changed radically over the past few years. The older I get, the more I have a hard time going shopping. On the other hand, I have friends and family members who enjoy walking through the stores, finding the best bargains, and the right things that fit their needs.

Online shopping opened up a new avenue for consumers, including me, to have a different type of shopping experience. It is a quick and often convenient way shop. Many online shoppers enjoy the flexibility of selecting what they need with a few clicks and have it delivered to their homes. This method of shopping reduces travel and shoppers can sometimes find things online that are hard to get in [physical] stores. The online shopping trend has evolved over time and with the closing of department stores or shopping malls in many local areas, many people are moving online.

In a study on California residents, Lee and colleagues compared in-store and online shopping. They found that in-store shopping is typically more socially and emotionally satisfying while people may engage in online shopping because of the convenience, price, and selection. So, with these in mind, what should you consider as you shop online this holiday season?

Make a list and check it twice. It is also easy to overspend during the holiday season. Even those of us with the most disciplined spending plans may buy more than we planned for during this time of the year. If you haven't created a spending plan for the holidays, it is not too late! To guard against shopping behaviors that you might regret after the New Year, make sure you create a reasonable holiday list. For instance, if you have a large family or group of friends, consider doing gift swaps/exchanges instead of individual gifts for everyone.

Be aware of online deals. As you look for ways to save and spend less, pay careful attention to online sales or specials that may seem intriguing. Some products have misleading descriptions or features, so comparison shop. See what other retailers are charging for the same products. Make sure also to read recent reviews from other customers. Some online retailers take steps to make sure the reviewer is a verified purchaser of the product before they can submit a review.

Start making plans for the New Year. Planning for the New Year can help guide your spending behaviors during the holiday season. By creating or reviewing your savings/investing goals or goals for paying down debt, that becomes a reminder of your commitments for the New Year. It's a reminder that even though the holidays may be a time to give to others, it is also a time to think about how you want to build or maintain financial stability.

As you finish your holiday shopping, stick to your list and the amount you planned to use. Many Americans build up debt during the holiday season that may take months to repay. So, even though you may find seemingly great online deals, make sure to consider how your purchase fits into your spending plan or your debt repayment goals for the upcoming year.

Happy Holidays!

 

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Reference

Lee, R. J., Sener, I. N., Mokhtarian, P. L., & Handy, S. L. (2017). Relationships between the online and in-store shopping frequency of Davis, California residents. Transportation Research Part A, 100, 40-52.



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