More people than ever are shopping online. A combination of improved online stores offering everything humanly imaginable for sale with widespread internet and mobile device access has led to a rapidly developing online shopping experience. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020, which forced people to stay home and avoid large crowds, has only sped up our shift towards online shopping.
While digital storefronts have given us intense freedom and flexibility, there are a few drawbacks. The frugal among us had developed some sort of system for saving money while shopping in analog locations—we understood how sales worked and read the flyers or clipped coupons when we needed to in order to save money when and where we could. Suddenly, however, our previous money-saving tactics don’t work as well anymore.
The following will explore some of the things you can do to digitize your money-saving mindset and bring your frugality into the modern era. Of course, in addition to the below information, individual stores might have additional sales, coupons, and codes, so keep your eyes open for those.
Combat Dynamic Pricing (And Data Theft)
You would think that everyone gets the same prices presented to them—as this is fair and righteous—but it isn’t the case. It turns out that online retailers are using cookies—small files that save to your computer and monitor the websites you use, the duration and frequency of this use, and, you guessed it, how much you spend as well as purchasing your data (which is being sold by pretty much all your apps, social media pages, and search engines) to determine how much you’re willing to spend and then adjusting their prices. This is called dynamic pricing.
Here are some ways to minimize the damage of dynamic pricing:
- Browse in private
- Consider less invasive apps like Signal instead of Facebook messenger
- Consider less invasive search engines like DuckDuckGo instead of Google
- Whenever a pop up appears asking you about cookies, scroll down and click manage, then click reject all
- Consider a VPN that will hide which country you’re browsing from—the computer this article is being written on is telling the internet it’s in Denmark… it’s not in Denmark
You should be using these tips anyway for everything, as your data is being used to accomplish all sorts of things you might disagree with (including swaying elections), but if you can’t bear to give up the shady programs—at least don’t use them while you’re shopping.
Use Digital Coupon Sites Or Apps
There are several sites or applications designed to help people navigate the confusing waters of internet shopping coupons, sites like DealDrop allow you to scroll through all of the available coupons and promotional codes and choose the ones you’d like to use. You might be shocked by the amount of savings available.
Pay Attention To The Shipping And Handling Costs
We’ve all been there. We find the perfect item online—something we’ve been looking for forever—and the price is way better than what we expected it would be. We add the item to our cart, proceed to the checkout, put in all our information, and just before we hit the confirm order button, we see the cost of shipping and hesitate. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting such a good deal after all.
The good news is there are solutions to the dreaded extra shipping costs:
- Look for coupons that provide free shipping and handling—these do exist
- Check if the store or platform has free shipping over [insert amount of money spent] clause—you can save the purchase for later when you need something else and purchase everything together to avoid the shipping cost
- Ask friends if they plan to order anything—again, if shipping is free after a certain amount spent, you might consider grouping your purchase together with a friend’s purchase, so you both save money
Leave Items In Your Cart
Because websites have all the sneaky data collection methods mentioned above, they know that you’ve abandoned an item in the cart. They know that you came close to buying something but then chose not to. Many retailers send you deals, offers, or discounts when this happens to encourage you to go back to your cart and complete the checkout.
The above information should set you up right for online shopping. You might also want to pay attention to the sales at your regular online retailers—most stores follow strict patterns for sales (once every two or three weeks, for example). If you begin to note down when sales occur, you might be able to schedule your shopping around them. Happy shopping!