I don’t like to waste things. Time, money, energy. I like to save those for when I need them. And every bit helps. Smart shopping saves us all three of these key ingredients. And it’s easier than ever to be a smart spender thanks to the Internet and the thousands of online stores offering millions of products and services we need and want.
If you’re reading this, you most likely feel the same way. I salute you, fellow savvy spender! I’m sure we’re in agreement that when spending money we like to make it go as far as reasonably possible. Smart spending means our dollar gets us more, and our wise decisions make us feel good.
I’m not a professional economist so I will save you (and me) a breakdown of the current state of the economy. But no matter if the economy is in good or bad shape, spending wisely and saving money when possible is a smart decision. If you save more, you’ll have more at the end of the day, week, month and year. The money you save can then be used elsewhere in your life. This can be applied across the board, whether you’re buying fuel at one gas station over another to save a few cents per gallon or comparing prices at online stores for a new pair of shoes.
Did you know that we save money simply by searching and shopping online, even when we don’t buy anything? You may be asking yourself, how so? Here’s why. By shopping online, we save time, money, gas, miles on our cars (which in turn saves on maintenance costs), and more.
Think about the last time you shopped online. Like me, you probably looked at several online merchants and compared prices. Even if you didn’t buy anything, think about how much time it would have taken to get in your car and visit each of the stores that you visited online. Not only that, think of the amount of gas you would have used while driving, the miles accumulating on your car, the number of sales, discounts and special offers you would not see as you drove by countless storefronts. The list goes on. You save all those costs by shopping online.
Suddenly, we’re saving without spending. And that’s really, really smart shopping.
Tell me, what’s more convenient than shopping quickly and economically from the comfort of our own home? There’s an entire galaxy of stores and goods just an online click away. That’s the beauty of online shopping – convenience. We don’t have to go anywhere, it’s fast – most purchases can be done in just a few minutes or less, and it allows you to choose the seller and price you want to pay. And since the Internet is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and it’s so easy to use, we can shop almost whenever we want, whether it’s before or after a long day of work, while watching the kids (just make sure you’re also watching the kids!), or a few minutes on your lunch break at the office.
Ever been to an amusement park on a weekend in the spring or summer? Then you know how inconvenient crowds and lines can be. Why wait in line or fight through crowds while shopping when you can go online and get the same thing done quickly and easily? And for you agoraphobes out there, online shopping is the best thing since sliced bread!
We’re not the only ones saving some dough, my friends. Retailers have embraced the Internet and online shopping because they don’t have to keep a physical store in place, pay rent for the space, pay utilities, or pay a staff to help customers, stock shelves, and set up displays. All those savings are often passed along to the online shopper by way of reasonable pricing and even online-only discounts and offers. There are now many stores that only operate online. They take orders via the Internet and ship the purchased goods directly from a warehouse or holding center directly to the consumer. The “store” is their website. Many retailers have both an online store and a real store.
Discounts are perhaps the biggest lure of online shopping. With hundreds of retailers offering the same product at a wide range of prices, the choice is yours to find the best deal. And when looking at prices, savvy shoppers like us like to pay as little as possible for what we want. Below retail pricing is usually in the form of a discount or sale, and more recently the online-only offer.
A good example of product on which you can find discounted online pricing is on travel. Most, if not all, airlines offer prices online that they simply cannot offer over the phone or at the ticket counter. This makes sense considering how easily and cost effectively the airlines can sell tickets on a website without having to recoup the costs of paying a ticket agent to answer your phone call, providing an office for the representative to work in, paying rent on the office, and so on. Those savings are passed directly to the online ticket buyer. And airlines, like most retailers, make it well known that online is the easiest place to find the best prices.
Free shipping and discounted shipping are more ways that retailers reward online shoppers. Say you found a great price on a pair of shoes at Shoes.com, but the discount price combined with the cost of shipping the shoes to your house will end up being more than you bargained on paying, maybe even more than retail price. That’s where free shipping and discounted shipping come into play. Online retailers realize that shoppers want to spend their money on goods, not shipping. And if we’re willing to buy products online, the online retailer is often willing to pay the shipping charges for us.
Shipping can be completely free, either outright or through a rebate, or require a minimum purchase to be free or discounted. Sometimes only select items include free or discounted shipping.
I love free shipping and discounted shipping. To me, they are icing on the cake when it comes to online shopping. The cake being the deal or discount I found online. The icing is getting the product to my address without incurring any additional costs that blow the deal.
Sometimes retailers will have extra stock or need to clear out a previous season’s styles or models to make room for the new ones. This can result in a “buy one, get one free” sale. And it works just like it sounds: pay for one item and receive a second for free. Kohls is one retailer that’s known for having buy one, get one free sales.
So there is such a thing as a free lunch! Some merchants will offer free items as an incentive to shop at their online store. For example, I recently reviewed a deal for a boating supply retailer that was offering free gift coupons of $5 to $100 when you bought a qualifying item on their website. You may also be offered a free gift, such as an MP3 player when you purchase a home theater system from an electronics store. These free gifts can be an attractive offer, especially when the free promotion is something that you also want or need. Sephora is an example of a merchant that loves to give merchandise away for free when you make a purchase. You get free samples, often deluxe samples, with every single order you place via their website.
Is Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills a little out of the way and a little out of your financial range? No problem. Online shopping brings nearly every store right into your home. In addition, you can comparison shop and find the best deal on that $2000 Gucci purse you need for the next girl’s night out.
Online shopping and online discounts not only bring the stores to us, they also let us do more with our hard earned money. Smart shoppers save by buying at a discounted price. The money saved can go towards other needs and wants. Maybe an online coupon saves you a few hundred dollars on a new mountain bike. Well, the money you saved can then be used to get a matching cycling helmet and a pair of sunglasses to wear while you ride.
There is nearly no limit to what you can find while shopping online. From high-end apparel and electronics to the simple comforts in life like a comfy pair of socks or a new spatula for the kitchen. Online discounts, offers, codes, coupons, incentives and sales are out there for almost everything. From online shopping to printable coupons for the grocery store – the possibilities are endless, and so are the potential savings.
Has this ever happened to you: You go to a retail store, for which you have a discount coupon to redeem at the cash register, only to find that you left it at home or maybe lost it in a pile of papers in the office? It used to happen to me all the time. But now we can use online shopping and online coupons much more easily because there is nothing to lose or accidentally throw away with the trash. Clipping coupons has become “clicking coupons,” and it makes saving and smart shopping that much easier. Click, buy, save. Done.
We are lucky enough to live in a free democratic society where the goods and services we need are readily available to us. Consumer goods are a major driving force of our economy because they represent countless jobs, from conceptualization to manufacturing to marketing to the store. When we shop (smart shopping of course!), we help fuel the economy. Why do you think we’ve received economic stimulus checks? That’s right…el presidente is hoping we’re all going to do some heavy shopping to help boost the economy. We’ll see if it works, but I, for one, am planning on doing my part!
Next time you buy something, think about all the people and jobs involved, all the technology, the intricate network of manufacturers, shippers, merchants and customers – all parts of our economy.