Shop Online and Save Money

When you shop online, you can save big bucks -- if you do it the right way. Many people think of discount shopping as something you do at local stores only, but with a bit of know how, you can turn shopping online into big savings.

Of course, if you don't know what you're doing, you can also stand to lose a lot. So if you want to shop online wisely and frugally, keep reading!

The pitfalls of online shopping

While some people never shop online, some people only shop online, and they assume they're getting the best possible deals. That might be true -- or it might not. Here are some things you really have to watch for when online shopping.

1. Shipping costs: It's amazing what some companies charge for shipping and handling, way more than shipping actually costs them. This is especially dangerous on online auction sites like eBay: some unscrupulous people make their price points low to attract buyers and then turn a profit on shipping. ALWAYS check shipping costs before you buy something.

2. Exchange rates: Check where you're buying from. If you buy from any country other than your own, the prices can be very deceptive. Make sure you use an online currency converter to check how much you're actually paying BEFORE you buy -- and remember that exchange rates can change without a moment's notice.

3. Failing to check local stores: This is one I've fallen prey to many times. You automatically look online and find what seems to be a great deal, only to learn later that you could have bought the same thing locally for the same price and saved the shipping costs.

When shopping online works

However, if you keep these things in mind, you can actually find terrific deals online. Here's how:

1. Discount shopping online: Think of online stores the same way you'd think of stores at the mall. They have sales and the like just like other shops, so you need to watch for them and make sure you're shopping at the right times. Online sales work the same as offline sales: they're seasonal and you have to keep your eyes open.

2. Buy lots infrequently: Remember, you're getting charged a base shipping cost. Adding to that base costs a lot less than making six different purchases and paying shipping on each one.

3. Use loyalty programs: Online shopping sites have discount and loyalty programs as well, so take advantage of them if you shop from the same site quite often.

4. Combine deals: With websites like ebates and Swagbucks, you can make money while you shop. Ebates refunds a portion of your purchase from participating sites while Swagbucks lets you earn bonus points you can redeem for merchandise when you make purchases.

Shopping online can be a great way to save money -- or it can break the bank. Make sure you shop online in a way that will save you money!

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