Be a smart Internet shopper

Green Monday, or December 15th, is said to the biggest online shopping day of the season, and the last chance to guarantee shipping by Christmas Day. Some analyst predict Green Monday will account for 3.2% of holiday sales, a bigger share than last year, as some retailers are expected to offer mores sales closer to the holiday.

For many consumers, shopping online is convenient. For overspenders, the Internet is too convenient. Since most Internet purchases are made with a credit card, planning ahead is a must. In a matter of minutes, you can charge holiday gifts that take months or even years to pay off. Below are tips for spending carefully while shopping online.

Develop a holiday spending plan. Before you go shopping, determine how much you can afford to spend and what you need to buy. Don’t forget to include non-gift items in your plan.

Comparison shop. Be sure to take full advantage of your ability to quickly and easily comparison shop products and prices online. Watch for sales and other perks, such as free shipping.

Shop with a list. Create a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases, carefully consider before shopping for yourself or responding to pop-up ads and email advertisements.

Track your online purchases. Since most online holiday purchases will wind up on one of your credit cards, it pays to keep track. Print out all receipts so that you are not surprised by large bills at the end of the year.

Plan for pay-off. Set a goal for paying off any holiday debt in a reasonable amount of time. Keep in mind that a $1,000 charge can take more than 12 years to pay-off if your interest rate is 17 percent and you make only the minimum monthly payment.

Finally, stop shopping when you’ve completed your list. Surfing the web may be a form of entertainment for some, but shopping should never be considered a recreational sport. Buying something you don’t need at a good price is no bargain.

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
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