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7 Facts Every Online Shopper Must Know

7 Facts Every Online Shopper Must Know

Have you ever bought a shirt or dress online only to later find out when it was delivered to you that what you saw online was quite different from what you received? In this scenario, what do you think would be your next line of action? Well, you can either throw your hands up in the air while running around your neighborhood yelling, “I’ve just been cheated!” or you could try to return the shirt you just purchased. Whichever one you choose, the deed had been done. You already have made payments even before your shirt was delivered to you.

If you have gone through such an experience as this, you’d find out that more often than not, it is usually a ‘not too good’ experience. You will begin to regret why you ordered and paid for what you don’t like. And I bet that nobody bargains for such an experience. This is why it is very important for you to be double sure that you are spending your hard earned money on what you truly want.

With the emergence of the World Wide Web in the early 90s, a lot of things became possible to achieve, including online banking and online shopping or e-commerce. The days of waiting on a queue to get that very important product at the stores then became drastically reduced; as online shopping evolved with the promises of salvaging so many people who don’t have time to check at different shops for what they wanted before buying.

It is therefore very expedient for every shopper to be armed with the very right information, before shopping online so as to save the stress of regretting the purchase. So, here are 7 facts you, as an online shopper, must know in order to have a successful shopping experience always.

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1. Shipping Might Not Be Entirely Free

Before you purchase an item online, be sure to ascertain if what you are buying has a free shipping tag. This is so that you don’t have to overshoot your budget. If what you have planned to spend on a product is 70 dollars, and the shipping costs an extra 20 dollars, it would be better for you to decide from the onset if you are ready for the extra cost.

Before you make a purchase, go to the site and read the description and product information to be sure it has a free shipping tag or not. However, one good way to be sure is to actually contact the product owner. This gives you extra assurance of the true cost of shipping.

2. Be Thorough In Your Search

Next you must do a thorough research on the product so that you have enough information about the products you intend purchasing. One of the advantages of doing a vast research on the kind of products you want is that it gives you the ability to locate the right kind of brands. By combing a lot of online stores, you become a smarter shopper. You can take advantage of the internet and its offers by going to possible manufacturer sites, as well as industry sites to know more about the products you want to purchase.

3. Product Reviews Always Help

If you have always ignored product reviews on several shopping sites, quit that attitude! Good product reviews are written for one thing: to give you an idea of what to expect when you actually start using the product. With this in mind, why should you as a shopaholic ignore such reviews?

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Whether there are reviews of praise or reviews of condemnation about a product, they both help you to make a very wise decision about the type of product to eventually settle for and purchase. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and time.

4. There Is an Avenue to Compare Prices

There is an avalanche of stores for you to check out different types of goods. Therefore without doubt, the availability of several other online stores makes it very easy for you to compare prices of these different products. This eventually helps you to arrive at the best product with the best price.

The best price here doesn’t necessarily mean the store with the cheapest price for your purchase. Sometimes, cheap isn’t good. It simply means the price that fits your budget. These stores offer discounts from time to time that you can cash in on to get the very best of deals.

5. Looks Can Be Deceptive

With the advent of Photoshop and other photo editing software that can make an ugly duckling look like a swan, you can be sure that some of these product images have been fine-tuned in order to be more attractive and gain attention from potential buyers like you. Therefore you must have this at the back of your mind when you are looking to see what product to settle for.

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Also, some of these high quality products might be unavailable on the sites, so be sure not to waste your time with such sites. You must be sure you are dealing directly with the manufacturer or a reliable retailer or dealer. One way to ensure this is to contact the dealer directly and ask all necessary questions.

6. There Might Be a Long Period of Waiting

It is very important for you to know that there might be a delay in shipment. This can be due to several unforeseen circumstances on the path of the company, supplier or dealer. Sometimes you need to give room for the delay such as your order being too small for the supplier to send alone or goods being held up at the customs if you’re buying from an international seller. It could also occur due to your location or your mode of delivery.

Sometimes, our purchases don’t arrive on their specified delivery dates and this often makes us shoppers pretty apprehensive. After all the effort involved in searching for the product and debiting our credit cards in the process, what else would you expect? However, giving room for delay will lower your chance of being apprehensive when your purchase doesn’t arrive on time.

7. Beware Of Fraud

To avoid being scammed while shopping online, it is important that you avoid making online purchases with a wire transfer or a checking account. Although many reputable companies offer this option, this is also the great way for a fraudster to embezzle your money from your bank account. Don’t ask me how they do it.

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Verify the source you are buying from thoroughly. This’ll help you ensure that you are not giving your account information to a crook that will end up stealing your money from your account.

So there you are. These facts provided above, will serve you so well if you take the actionable steps given seriously. Shopping online can be a wonderful and fruitful experience for you when you are armed with the necessary and important information.

When searching for the next product to buy online, remove all the guesswork and have these facts at the back of your mind. They’ll not only help you stay relaxed when shopping, but they’ll guarantee that you get the very best of what you want, without overshooting your budget. That’s the trait of a successful online shopper, and you can be one too.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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