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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 January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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