Online vs. In-Person Spending: How to Manage Your Budget

Global commerce is more prevalent than ever thanks to online shopping. Never has a generation been given so many options when it comes to how and where to spend money. Although these changes are good for many, they constitute a double-edged sword for others. Consider the pros and cons of online shopping before diving into the deep end of the Internet. Your credit score will thank you.

The Pros

• Convenient cost comparisons. Gone are the days of clipping coupons and running from store to store looking for the best deal. In today’s market, price shopping is literally a click away. Many retailers also offer online deals that aren’t valid in-store. With that in mind, online methods can help you make educated decisions regarding places you do frequent in person. For example, which grocery store offers the best produce prices? Check out their websites, and then point your car in the right direction.

• The deals are better. With online shopping, you are granted guaranteed access to literally thousands of retailers, and infinite supply means better deals. Moreover, small online shops often carry the same goods at deeper discounts, saving you money in the process. Online coupon codes can also sweeten the deal and enable you to seldom pay full price for anything.

• It’s easy. No more waiting in line or driving long distances to your favorite stores. No more piling the kids into the car and paying high gas prices. Online shopping allows you to make choices in the comfort of your own home. The best part? The Internet never closes.

The Cons

• Processing fees. Although there are certainly many online deals to be had, processing fees are an undeniable drawback. Many large stores impose an additional charge on online purchases like furniture. If your goal is to save money and focus on credit repair, this is a scenario to avoid. Before paying the extra fees, call the store and ask if you could save the extra cash by purchasing your items in person. Why spend more money if you don’t have to?

• Safety issues. Identity theft is a common problem in the world of global commerce, and online shoppers face additional dangers. Saved information such as your name, address, credit card numbers, and passwords can fall into a savvy hacker’s inbox, causing credit score damage and serious credit repair issues. Protect yourself by using PayPal or another secure method of payment. Keep your firewalls current to ensure that your purchases help your finances rather than hinder them.

• It’s easy. Yes, a major “pro” of online shopping is also a major “con.” Sure, online shopping is convenient, but “easy” purchases can lead to impulse buying. Would you drive to Best Buy to purchase a television at 2 a.m.? If the answer is “no,” try to avoid their website when insomnia hits. Unless you rebalance your budget after every purchase, online spending could take over your life and lead to serious financial, and then credit repair, trouble.

The bottom line: shopping online is a great resource when used appropriately. Let the sea of savings opportunities work to help your credit score, and avoid the potential pitfalls along the way.