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5 Things to Consider Before You Shop Online

We have an undeniable love/hate relationship with online shopping. It’s more convenient, without a doubt. Yet, it can also be dangerous for our inner shopaholics.

While using discretion for shopping online may be difficult, it’s important to develop good habits and perceptiveness to combat retail hazards like key loggers, marketing ploys, and wishy-washy reviews.

Here are 5 things to think about next time you shop online:

Do I really need this, or am I just bored?

We’re only human. We get bored, and sometimes we make impulse purchases as a result. Unfortunately, those quick picks can seriously add up. Asking yourself if you really need the item could keep you from spending your precious money carelessly.

Can I trust the reviews?

I’m the first to admit to checking out reviews on products and services I’m looking to purchase, but sometimes they’re just downright confusing. Half of respondents will say a product is amazing, and others will say it sucks. The bottom line: Every person is designed differently. While you may be reading a review from two 5’1” girls between the ages of 18-30, their reviews on a pair of jeans could be totally different based on their body shapes or basic preferences.

Is the site going to tack on a crazy shipping cost?

A huge benefit of shopping online is its convenience. You don’t have to spend your time, gas, and car mileage to find what you need. While you may be using minimal time and energy to seek out exactly what you like or need, the $10 shipping and handling cost at the end of your virtual retail therapy doesn’t really make it a better deal economically. [If you really need to purchase something online, use Honey. This app will give you the coupon code to knock a shipping fee right off!]

Do I only want this because I just saw it in an ad?

Data analytics and marketing have made it easier to target consumers’ preferences and “needs.” I used to think it was a coincidence that Target sent me special offers on a slew of L’oreal products (I’m a fan of their shampoos and conditioners). Then I found out that companies can track your credit card, analyze your buying behavior, and strategize how to further capitalize on it. How creepy!

How should I pay for this?

It’s rare that anyone advises the use  of credit over debit. I’m a fan of credit so long as it is used tactfully. Surprisingly, credit cards offer more protection against identity theft than debit cards. If your credit card is ever stolen you’ll only be responsible for $50 of the stolen charges. Debit doesn’t have that guarantee. By using a debit card to shop online, you create the opportunity for key loggers to intercept your information and use it to wipe your checking account before you can bat an eyelash.

We’re all guilty of shopping online, but we can still practice thoughtful shopping.


UC Davis Senior Orange County, CA English & French Double Major Writer, old Hollywood film fanatic, world-class shoe collector
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