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3 Smart Ways to Increase Your Savings When Shopping Online

3 Smart Ways to Increase Your Savings When Shopping Online

Researchers now predict that in US alone, over $ 523 billion will be used on online shopping (total sales) annually by 2020, representing a 56% increase from the $335 billion recorded in 2015.[1] This is an era when online shopping is gradually becoming the norm and increasingly replacing the traditional form of store-based shopping. Unfortunately, an increase of online shopping is simultaneously prompting the increase of random purchases. The budgeting process is gradually losing its effect on modern shopping, and most people often remember a budget limit after making an online purchase. It used to take time, effort, and careful planning for people to buy even the most basic of their products and services, thus reducing the expenditure to a level that can be matched by income generation. Spending time before making a purchase often increased consideration of ways to increase savings and helped avoid unnecessary expenses.

Today unfortunately, similar goods and services not only lack the physical comparison with competing alternatives, but they can also be purchased with a single click. The immediacy of making a purchase omits careful consideration and budgeting. Today, almost anything is available within an instant, and the only possible delay is when it is being shipped from and to any global jurisdiction.

Without budgeting, contemporary online purchases are characterized by:

  1. Excessive expenditure/spending
  2. Absence of comparative review of competing products/services
  3. Short-term considerations of otherwise temporal needs
  4. Increment of instantaneous needs
  5. Lack of adequate appraisal of product/service features in comparison to need
  6. Lack of financial foresight to increase savings for every purchase

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    The biggest loss experienced from modern online shopping, therefore, is the savings account where, without reliable budgeting, expenditure can and often does outweigh the income. If the World Wide Web is only starting what will be its phenomenal and greatest growth phase, then it is only wise to advance your consumption behaviors and tendencies.[2] The article purposed to reviews the three most essential strategies, all synthesized from a comprehensive critical review of contemporary literature, and backed by numerous scientific and empirically credible research studies conducted by highly-esteemed scholars and researchers. As such, using the three strategic steps below, generated by based recent empirical research studies across the globe, can nonetheless help you increase your savings even when shopping online.

    3 Research-Based Initiatives to Increase Savings during Online Shopping

    1. Exploiting Cost-Saving Avenues

    Economic professors from London and Washington DC conducted a study in London posing the question of how “consumers save” during shopping, as part of the “consumer shopping behavior” (Griffith et al., 2009, p. 99). In the study, as published by the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Griffith, Leibtag, Leicester, and Nevo (2009) observed how little modern consumers consider ways to save when shopping, such that the “potential and actual savings” is often decimal (p. 100). The study highlighted ways in which modern consumers can and should save on their shopping cost, including:

    • Strategically determining when to buy and how much to buy to save overall costs
    • Buying products in bulk, which provides lower price per unit bought
    • Purchasing outlets that reduce transport costs
    • Exploiting seasonal quantity discounts for specific services of products
    • Watching out for temporary price reductions, particularly among companies that offer reward programs for their customers

    These same findings accrue in online shopping and can therefore help you acquire significant savings. For example, you can opt to purchase a service/product using coupons and promotion codes, which reduces your checkout costs. Other opportunities to increase savings during online shopping includes exploiting free shipping offers, although it is important to determine the credibility of such offers, but the use of cost savings avenues has been established by many other empirical studies. Example of studies include Deaton (1998) on “getting the price right” (p. 37), Seock and Norton (2007) on “channel choices for purchasing: (p. 571), Katawetawaraks and Wang (2011) on influences of “online shopping decision” (p. 66), Rudansky-Kloppers (2014) on “factors influencing customer online buying” (p. 1187), and Yu and Wu (2007), on the “determinants of internet shopping behavior” (p. 744). All these empirical studies agree that using strategic measures/avenues to save cost while purchasing online can aggregate to immense savings for you every time you shop online.

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    2. Overcoming Behavioral Uncertainty

    A research study published in the first issue of the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising applied the Transaction Cost Economics theory to analyze the shopping behavior of Chinese consumers. The study was commissioned by the School of Business in the National University of Singapore. Following the study, Teo, Wang, and Leong (2004), concluded that, consumers’ online shopping behavior is characterized by six unique and distinctive antecedents, among which were:

    • Convenience (to be explored hereafter as studied in India by Ganapathi in 2015)
    • Economic utility of product/service consequent of short-term considerations when purchasing otherwise temporal needs (as explained in the introduction above)
    • Product uncertainty due to the absence of comparative review of competing products/services as well as increment of instantaneous needs (as explained in the introduction above)
    • Behavioral uncertainty among consumers (important for the present discussion)

    With over 198 million consumers in the US shopping online in the first three months of 2014, online shopping is slowly becoming the only way people shop globally.[3] Teo, Wang, and Leong (2004) established that, based on the theory of Transaction Cost Economics, online shopping triggered behavioral uncertainty among the Chinese consumers since purchasing decisions were not organized, strategically predictive, or justified by valuation. Rather, the decisions were based on momentary appeal of the products/services being offered. It is therefore critically essential that all your online purchases are deliberate, strategic, value-based, and are strategically founded on the economic utility of whatever you purchase. Only then will you aggregate the occasional, yet avoidable, whims of purchases into considerable savings.

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      3. Avoiding Self-Serving Convenience and Random Purchases

      The digital age has come with an outstanding level of laziness and passiveness among consumers. Focusing on Indian consumers in Chennai, Ganapathi (2015) recently investigated how consumers in Chennai city behave during online shopping. Importantly, the Assistance Professor identified the factors that significantly influence these shoppers’ behaviors. According to the study, regression analysis indicates a significant relation between online shopping behavior and convenience, where the little purchasing decisions are often pegged on what is most convenient for the consumer.

      The findings reported by Ganapathi (2015) concur with those reported by other scholars and researchers across the globe, including Teo, Wang, and Leong (2004) in China, Rudansky-Kloppers, S. (2014) in South Africa, Andrew and Vanitha (2004) in the USA, as well as Bulter and Peppard (1998) in the UK, among many others. As such, the first step to increase your savings is to ensure that your purchases are shaped by what you need, and the best available for their price range, and not what is more convenient to you. After all, you will never be obligated to shop for anything, at any time, and at any online shop. It is your personal and deliberate decision to shop.

      In conclusion, the aforementioned article has highlighted online shopping can easily lack the physical comparison of products/services with competing alternatives, omit critical budgeting, and lead to excessive wastage of resources. The lack of budgeting in contemporary online purchases is characterized by excessive expenditure/spending, absence of comparative review of competing products/services, short-term considerations of otherwise temporal needs, increment of instantaneous needs, lack of adequate appraisal of product/service features in comparison to need, and lack of financial foresight to increase savings for every purchase.

      The article has provided a comprehensive critical review of contemporary literature, punctuated by numerous empirical studies from almost every continent on the globe.

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      As such, based on the foregoing review on saving costs during online shopping, you will be better advised to:

      (a) exploit available cost-saving avenues

      (b) overcome negative behavioral uncertainty, and

      (c) avoid self-serving convenience and random purchases.

      Only then, will your expenditure leave an adequate gap in your income, to generate significant savings.

      Featured photo credit: Freepik via Freepik.com

      Reference

      [1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-wolfson/from-halloween-to-amazon-_b_12628616.html
      [2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2016/08/09/the-future-of-retailing-the-revolution-to-technology-is-now/#250a091d383e
      [3] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-surprising-demographics-of-who-shops-online-and-on-mobile-2014-6

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      Published on September 25, 2020

      10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

      10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

      When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

      VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

      How to Choose a VPN

      • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
      • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
      • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
      • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
      • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

      Why You Should Trust Us

      Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

      Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

      1. NordVPN

      The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

      Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

      NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

      In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

      NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

      Buy this VPN.

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      2. ExpressVPN

      ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

      Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

      Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

      Buy this VPN.

      3. Surf Shark

      With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

      Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

      The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

      Buy this VPN.

      4. CyberGhost

      Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

      The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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      What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

      Buy this VPN.

      5. IPVanish

      IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

      IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

      Buy this VPN.

      6. Private Internet Access

      Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

      One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

      In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

      These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

      Buy this VPN.

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      7. Hotspot Shield

      Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

      Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

      Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

      Buy this VPN.

      8. TunnelBear

      As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

      The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

      Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

      Buy this VPN.

      9. Norton

      Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

      As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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      Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

      Buy this VPN.

      10. StrongVPN

      The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

      StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

      As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

      Buy this VPN.

      Bottom Line

      Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

      With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

      We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

      Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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