Online Shopping Can Help Parents On Tight Budgets and Limited Time
Learn How Online Shopping Can Help You Save Time and Money
Dear April Masini,
I recently got divorced and have found myself with, obviously, twice the household responsibilities. I have full custody of my two young sons and no longer have help with the cooking, cleaning, shopping and all the other items my ex-husband used to pitch in with. I don't really have any time to myself anymore, and it's probably the biggest luxury that I miss!
Friends have recommended that I get some extra help --a maid or a nanny-- but I'm also managing my own finances for the first time, so I want to try to do this on my own. Is there anywhere I can save time while keeping to a budget?
Signed, Single Mom, Multiple Responsibilities"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Single Mom,
How much time do you spend at the grocery store? Shopping for your sons' clothes? Just running around town buying random items? Looking for parking at the malls?
You can not only save time, but also money, by using the Internet for the majority of your shopping and errands! (Think of the valuable "time to yourself" this could buy back.) It's important to be technically savvy when it comes to the Internet (as I'm sure your kids are)--it's useful for lots of different things.
Online shopping is a great time saver for anyone with a busy schedule or who doesn’t like interacting with other people while shopping. Most stores you find in your local mall are now represented online for your shopping convenience – and there are lots of others, too.
1. Comparison shopping is easy at shopping sites like www.shopping.com and www.mysimon.com and www.pricegrabber.com. These sites are great if you know exactly what you want, and enter the specific model number or identifying factors when searching for a comparatively priced product.
2. Online auctions can be great if you don’t mind a little risk. Returns are not possible on these sites, so the buyer must beware, and be prepared for disappointment. There is limited buyer protection on auction sites.
3. Payment. Pay by credit card, not check, cash or debit card. The reason is that if there is a legitimate problem, your credit card company usually only holds you liable for up to $50. There may also be a dispute service provided by your company.
4. Delivery. You will not get your product right away unless you pay special shipping charges. The latest you should get your package, according to FTC laws, is 30 days. Most shipments are made within 10 business days.
5. Payment security. If you are uncomfortable giving your credit card number online, you can call the purchase in once you find what you want online. There should be a “Contact Us” link on the site or a toll free number to call and complete your purchase.
6. Shopping rebate clubs. There are several clubs online that you can join for free. They offer you rebates on your purchases as long as you shop through their website. Some are www.ebates.com, www.butterflymall.com and www.rebateshare.com.
7. Stores with online retail outlets often offer different and sometimes better sales and prices, as well as availability than stores. If you have a favorite online store, sign up, or register with the site to receive regular notices of sales in your e-mail box.
8. Return and exchange shipping charges. Check your online site’s return and exchange shipping policies. Some stores, like OldNavy.com pay for your postage if you are returning an item in exchange for something else. If you have time, this allows for easy shopping. Other stores make you pay for all return shipping, which can make the wrong item, an expensive endeavor.
9. Return and exchange shipping labels. Some stores require you to go to the post office to return or exchange an item. Others will send you a return label complete with pre-paid postage to use if you need it. Others will allow you to download a pre-paid label to print out. Others require you to call in and schedule a UPS pick up.
10. More stores. Online shopping offers more store options than in person shopping. Many stores operate only online like www.zappos.com for shoes or www.albris.com for books. You can find more products and more choices in price by shopping online.