Sharon Levin

Online Shopping – Is it worth your while?

It’s November again, the month that’s become highly associated with online shopping. The endless temptations and irresistible offers can easily mislead us towards reckless spending. Remember, whilst this shopping holiday may make sense for some, not every deal is a great deal.

Online shopping has never been easier and we can shop the world within a few clicks, anywhere and anytime. Our money is wanted across the globe and our attention is drawn to sites that offer us free coupons, remarkable sales, seasonal discounts and other attractive bargains linked to cutoff dates.

With so many temptations are we really able to spend and save at the same time?

Firstly, we must question the necessity of desired products, or whether we are about to fall for temporary excitement of impulse buying. We must also ask ourselves whether we have the capital and budget to proceed with the purchase.

Here are a few ideas to help us focus our attention prior to clicking on the “buy now“:

  • Make a list and follow it.
  • Before using coupons read the terms, time limits and cancellation policy, (i.e. many restaurant or movie coupons don’t apply on weekends).
  • Determine the total price of purchased items including long term provisions. i.e. when purchasing a console, keep in mind cost of games, Joystick, licenses etc.
  • Make it a habit to search the web for customer reviews as well as talkbacks, see what others are saying about products and service. Try to stick to dynamic sites with high ranking on service level.
  • Verify the URL and look for a lock sign to determine whether the site you are about to purchase from is secure and legit. These signs indicate safety measures are in place. In general, opt to buy from familiar websites.
  • Validate that sites you are exploring don’t offer fake designs that may not exist elsewhere.
  • Check the displayed contact info. Does it look legit or somewhat fuzzy?

Here’s another tip I once received: Open an email address to manage purchasing correspondence. This may help reduce temptations and simplify tracking of cut off dates and cancelation policies.

After purchase recommendations:

  • Keep on top of your spending and regularly check credit card statements.
  • Spot unwanted transactions and billing errors, and report unfamiliar charges to your credit card provider.
  • Online purchases from Israeli sites can be canceled within 14 days of purchase.
  • Claim a refund when goods fail to arrive.

As we approach the overwhelming amounts of shopping attractions available throughout this eleventh month, make sure your online purchases are both conscious and cautious.

Look out for additional consumer tips by Paamonim, a provider of financial education and guidance to families throughout Israel.

About the Author
Sharon Levin has an M.A. in Public Policy and is a certified Group Facilitator. She has worked for Paamonim since 2009, lead roles include Regional Director responsible for Paamonim's volunteers who provide free one-on-one financial counseling. As Director of Group Activities, she headed the establishment of Paamonim College for Financial Education, offering courses, programs, and lectures teaching financial fundamentals to participants, all geared towards helping people acquire financial education for better living.