Good news for everyone who’s taking advantage of Cyber Monday: Shopping online can actually *help* you stick to your holiday budget.
According to a recent T. Rowe Price study on parents’ holiday shopping habits, those who didn’t overspend were more likely to exclusively shop online. And shoppers who went overboard were more likely to shop exclusively in stores.
After all, who hasn’t left a store with a cart-load of stuff when all you came in for was shampoo? (Looking at you, Target.) But before you use this as an excuse to go ham on cyber shopping, hold up: Online buying is full of traps, too. Here’s how to do it right.
1. Stick to Your List
The beauty of shopping online (besides that you can do it from your couch)? You don’t have to walk past racks and racks of other tempting items while looking for one specific thing. But online retailers are savvy about serving you up tempting “customers also bought …” suggestions, so shop only with your list in mind.
Take the time to think through what you want to get each person, and from where. When you know exactly what you’re looking for, you won’t be thrown off-track by those super-cute booties you just happened to come across.
2. Comparison Shop
This should go without saying, but don’t just assume you’re getting the best price on something because you found it on your favorite site. Retailers are making a greater effort to boast competitive pricing, especially during the holidays, so compare prices from several major spots.
3. Use Browser Extensions
If you don’t use browser extensions designed to save you money, now’s the time to start. All you have to do is download them, and they take care of the rest, whether you want to track prices on a TV, apply (and even stack) coupons to your orders, or just earn cash back. Our guide to these handy plug-ins can help you find the perfect one (or several) for your shopping needs.
4. Resist the Urge to Self-Gift
While you may know exactly what you’re buying for friends and family, it can be all too easy to stray when it comes to gifts for yourself — I mean, it’s on sale! But according to the same T. Rowe Price study, 60% of parents shop for themselves during the holidays, and 37% even spend more on themselves than their kids. Keep yourself in check — this is the season of *giving* after all — and your budget will thank you.