There’s nothing like the rush of going into a cute little boutique, trying on a pair of new shoes that you purchase and watch as they get wrapped in dainty tissue paper and put in a cute little bag that you get to parade around the mall that says, look at me, I have something new and fabulous and you don’t!
However, in today’s fast-paced society, those moments are few and far between and if you’re broke as a joke like me, those moments usually only occur during lucid fantasies brought on by coerced fashion withdrawals after watching re-runs of “Project Runway.”
Congratulations, now you know how I spend my Sundays, alert the media!
With me being a news reporter and my husband being a cop, we often don’t have the time to go shopping for things like birthday gifts and when we do have time, it’s on a very strict budget. Luckily, we live in a world where almost anything is readily available at just the click of a mouse.
Online shopping has seriously been a savior for my family and our budget. I know what some of you are thinking. Shopping online hurts local mom-and-pop stores and ordering stuff not made in America is hurting our economy, blah blah blah. This is unfortunate, but unless Captain America can get me a coffee table for $9.99 and ship it from O.co for just a dollar, then my dedication is to the Swedes.
Seriously, have you been to IKEA? It’s like Santa Claus and Chuck Norris joined forces and their awesomeness exploded into three levels of pure magic. #Awesome.
I’m not saying that you should do all of your shopping online because sometimes, things like shipping and handling will end up costing you more money. But recently, consumers have found better deals online than in stores because logically, it takes less time and not as many people to assist an online customer because you as a buyer are doing for free what a store would have to pay a sales assistant or clerk to do.
So, here are some online stores I frequent and a few tips to help make your virtual shopping experience a pleasant reality.
Overstock.com or O.co
Overstock.com is a great place to shop online. You get a brand-new product at after-market prices. For example, I’m looking for a new dining-room table. I found a great table that fits six chairs for only $200. A great deal for sure, but you’re probably thinking that the shipping price is the catch. Actually, from O.co, shipping for your entire purchase is always $2.95. Even if you order an entire living room full of furniture, the price remains the same. This site is a great place to expand your horizons and look for items that may not be carried at local stores. They also have such a vast variety of items for sale. There’s MAC makeup, watches, grills, pretty much anything you can think of.
Amazon is probably one of my husband’s favorite places to shop. A feature of the site that he really enjoys is that they show the used and the brand-new price of a product. For example, say you search for the book “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” When the book comes up on the page it will say, 63 brand-new copies are available at the lowest price of $3.96 and 37 used copies are available at the lowest price of $4.02. Many people would assume that buying used is cheaper, but in this instance, you can actually get a brand-new product for a little cheaper. Another thing my husband likes to check at Amazon is the “Today’s Deals” tab. Every day, Amazon offers deals on different things. On Friday, they were offering $20 off a $100 Coleman camping supplies purchase. Amazon also gives you a preview to future deals on the same page.
While Ebay is not my favorite online store, it is a good place to search for used items. However, you must buy with caution. There are several sellers who will try to scam you and sell you merchandise under false pretenses. I only buy from Ebay sellers who have a good score. Sellers are scored by people that they sell things to and the score depends on the quality of the actual product, customer service and promptness in shipping. Buyers may also leave comments on a seller’s page. I always read through the comments to see what kind of experience other buyers have had. Also, you have better luck getting a product for cheaper if you bid on a product rather than buy it out right immediately. A seller’s outright price on a purse may be $200 but if you compete in a bid, you could get the purse for less. Patience and a good “gut guide” (meaning if it’s too good to be true it usually is) is needed when shopping Ebay.
While Amazon, Overstock and Ebay are the stores that I and many others frequent for online shopping, there are several stores that have websites that offer deals as well. For instance, Target and Best Buy are constantly offering online-only deals that offer a product at a much cheaper price than if bought in the store. Online shopping has taught me and hopefully will teach you to thoroughly research a product before you buy it and to be patient. With the economy the way it is today, a budgeteer can’t run the risk of losing out on a good deal and spending more money than necessary.
Well, that’s all I got for you today savvy shoppers.
Don’t forget to visit me on Facebook at www.BrittanysBudgetDiary.com and now on Twitter @VDT_Brittany.