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Is it Better to Shop Online or In Person?

  • July 2, 2016
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

Shopping online or in person is a question of preferences, but there can also be budget advantages. Our best advice, regardless of where you shop, is to first determine what your budget is. Then you will want to consider a few questions.

In-Person Shoppers

  • Do you like to try things on?  This may be important for items like clothes, shoes and jewelry.
  • Do you want to touch, feel and experience the item before you purchase?
  • Is using a credit card a danger for you? Do you tend to overspend on credit? Do you prefer to pay by check, cash or debit card?
  • Do you like to support local businesses?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, shopping in person might be for you (at least in some cases).

Online Shoppers

  • Do you absolutely HATE shopping and dealing with crowds, salespeople, parking lots and malls?
  • Are you comfortable buying online?  (Always check that the website address starts with https and look for the little lock symbol next to the website address.)
  • Can you buy using a credit card without busting your budget?
  • Do you research the company you’re using and their return policy?

The Better Business Bureau offers some helpful suggestions for safe online shopping.

Sticking to Your Budget

If that swishing motion of running a debit or credit card feels like magic money, try shopping with cash only to help you stay in your budget.

Online shopping might make it easier to decide carefully. Some people feel that it is easier to put something in a virtual cart and then take it out again if they change their minds or need to scale back a purchase to stay in budget. There’s no embarrassment or need to put something back on a shelf.

Online shopping can also make it easier to research and comparison shop before buying. You can save things in your cart and think about it for a while, or search multiple stores until you find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s less work to find and order items from multiple stores, if you can find better prices. And there are often options for coupons or free shipping. If you had to do all that work in person, it might be a barrier.

On the other hand, when you shop in-person, you might be inclined to consider a decision more carefully. It’s awfully easy to buy online without fully absorbing the details of a product.

Check That Return Policy

Whether online or in person, be sure to check return policies. Often you can return items in person if a store has a local location, or ship them back.