4 Things You Need To Know In Order To Shop Efficiently and Affordably Online

Christmas online shopping top view.
Tijana Simic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The holiday shopping season is officially underway with stores unveiling their Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals. While it’s never been easier to shop online, it’s also never been easier to spend more than you meant to. A recent GOBankingRates survey found that of all the holiday shoppers this season, over half (55%) are doing the majority of their shopping online. To help you navigate the swarm of online sales, we’ve asked the experts for their advice on how best to shop efficiently and affordably online.

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Follow Your Favorites on Social Media

In preparation for those big holiday sales, many stores will be promoting themselves on places like Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to like and follow the accounts for your favorite stores so that you don’t miss out on any discounts. “Check out your favorite retailers’ Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds, and you will often find exclusive promotions and deals,” said Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual. “When you like or follow certain retailers, they reward their customers with special alerts to holiday discounts or incentives.” Some retailers will even have discounts that are only announced on social media, so be sure to keep an eye out as you shop.

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Get Cash Back Rewards

Senior Investment Advisor and Credit Consultant at CreditSage, Bruce Mohr recommends using a cash-back credit card for your holiday expenses. “You’ll essentially receive a discount on every purchase you make since you’ll earn a percentage back.” Mohr also advised, “Whatever credit card you choose to use for your Christmas shopping, just be sure you have enough money to pay the debt off in January. Don’t use cards to buy more than you can afford to pay back in a month since you’ll wind up paying interest, which might wipe out your savings and leave you in debt.”

There are other ways to earn cash back that doesn’t involve your credit card. Erik Mathes from EriksGuide.com said, “Online shoppers should know about cashback sites like Rakuten, Top Cashback, BeFrugal, and others to take advantage of free cashback offers in exchange for shopping through special links from [these] cashback sites.”

Set a Holiday Budget

It seems more important this year to shop with a budget as people continue seeing costs rise from inflation. With this in mind, Ty Wilson, Co-Founder of CustomMade, warned against overspending just because it’s the holidays. “One of the biggest dangers of shopping online is the temptation to spend more than you can afford. Make sure to set a budget ahead of time and stick to it, even during the holiday season when retailers are offering tempting deals and promotions.”

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Watch Out for Scams

Not everyone is on their best behavior for the holidays, and it’s always best to be cautious with your personal information online. Mohr said, “On shopping websites, it’s usual practice to save your personal and financial information so you won’t have to enter it again when you next make a purchase. These websites are made for buying, not for providing essential protection for your data. Because of this, we frequently learn about hacks and breaches involving personal data from shops.” Avoid allowing websites to remember your card information, and be careful with any deals that are too good to be true.

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