Woman using laptop computer.

Is it Better to Shop Online or In Person?

Do you prefer going to the mall or shopping online?  The first question really is, should you be shopping at all? If the purchase is within your budget, consider your challenges when it comes to spending. 

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you like to try things on?  This may be important for items like clothes, shoes and jewelry.
  • Do you want to touch, feel and experience the item before you purchase?
  • Is using a credit card a danger for you? Do you tend to overspend on credit? Do you prefer to pay by check, cash or debit card?
  • Do you like to support local businesses?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, shopping in person might be for you (at least in some cases).

Or maybe online shopping is more your speed. Try answering these questions:

  • Do you absolutely HATE shopping and dealing with crowds, salespeople, parking lots and malls?
  • Are you comfortable buying online?  (Always check that the website address starts with https and look for the little lock symbol next to the website address.)
  • Can you buy using a credit card without busting your budget?
  • Do you research the company you’re using and their return policy?

The Better Business Bureau offers some helpful suggestions for safe online shopping.

For me, as soon as I make that swishing motion of running a debit or credit card, it becomes magic money. For that reason, I’ve learned it is MUCH better for me to shop with cash. That being said, I can generally shop online with more discipline. I can put something in my virtual cart and then take it out again without any embarrassment or need to put it back. I can easily research the item while I have it pulled up. I can save things in my cart so I can think about it and not lose it again. I can search multiple stores until I find JUST the right thing. I’ve done this with wallets, rugs, dishes and tableware with great success. I can even find dishes at one store and linens at another. This way I can see that they match and order them, all within my budget.  I often use national stores, and can even use coupons and get free shipping. If I had to do all that work in person, I might end up buying things that aren’t quite right.

Another issue I’ve learned to be careful of is “pulling the trigger” too quickly. I type very quickly and can finish a purchase before I’ve really checked all the specifications. Luckily, with stores that have local locations, I can return items in person or ship them back. Check that return policy.  Most of the “big guys” have very liberal policies.

The most vital thing to remember here is ANY shopping absolutely needs to be within your budget. Enjoy your shopping experience, with care.