Are your pockets overflowing with many, many extra dollar bills? If so, congratulations. If not, this blog is about money management and setting you up for financial independence, starting with two lessons from my mother and me.
Thankfully, I was taught the importance of money management well at an early age. When I was a young girl growing up in India, my mother sent my siblings and me to the market to buy a few items for the house. I was tasked with picking up a pound of vegetables. When we returned home, my mother asked all of us many questions about our purchases and asked me quite a few about my reasoning behind selecting and paying for the vegetables I had bought, including:
• How many stalls did I look at before I bought that pound?
• What methods did I use to check that the vegetables in question were fresh?
• How did I know that I had actually received a pound of vegetables and not a lesser amount?
• Did I negotiate on the price? (In India, you always negotiate the price. It’s basically a sport).
This experience taught me skills about shopping wisely, and I still ask myself a version of each of these questions prior to making any purchases to this day.
While you may not be planning on heading to an actual market anytime soon, you can still use variations of these questions in any “brick and mortar” shop or before clicking “pay now” in an online store.
Whether you shop online frequently or just every once in a while, there are five money management steps you should take to make the most out of every purchase:
1. Develop different categories for the items you buy online: You will want to categorize your online buys (i.e. food, clothing, household items, office products, furniture, tickets, etc.) and make a list of 2-3 trusted vendors for each category.
2. Determine which items are worth buying online and which are worth heading into an actual shop for: Personally, I never buy shoes online. I really need to try a pair on in the store before I decide to whip out my wallet. I drive the sales people nuts, but I don’t care. So take a step back and start weighing whether the convenience of buying from an online shop will be worth the risk of getting something a little less than high-quality than you were expecting/something too big or too small. You may want to return the items you didn’t like, but returning anything to an online store is a real pain and a waste of time and money, since you may also have to pay for the return shipping.
3. Make sure that you know a vendor’s return policy before you buy ANYTHING from them. It’s better to be safe than sorry on this front, always.
4. Don’t become too loyal to a given vendor. Online vendors know what you have been searching for and buying. And vendors want to keep you coming back. If you turn to another vendor every once in a while, the original vendor may try to woo you back with special coupon codes and lowered prices which will help you with personal money management.
5. Fill your online carts with items, then just exit out of the website. Today’s customer is made extremely powerful by one little thing—their mouse. If you abandon the shopping cart the online vendor knows it and will try to get you back to buy with a special coupon or by reducing the shipping cost.
In my next blog I’ll talk about 3 Things You Can Do Now to Get Set Up for Financial Independence.
Please share the lessons you have learned from shopping in regular brick-and-mortar stores or from online shopping.
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