Online shopping is fun and easy. It’s also easy to be impulsive and buy things you can’t afford or don’t really need  If you aren’t shopping for absolute necessities that you use regularly, take your time.  Research every product to make sure it lives up to the hype.

  • Don’t trust the “star” rating system without reading the specifics in the review. Some product reviews need to be studied carefully.  Did most of the people leaving a review receive the product for free in exchange for a review? If so, they are required to disclose that information. Most reviewers of free or discounted products are honest, but you should also look for reviews from others who paid full price. Some reviewers will leave a bad review if the package got lost in the mail, or for other reasons that don’t really reflect the product’s quality and performance. And, sometimes suppliers change over time, so that four-star rating overall might show a whole bunch of glowing reviews from last year, but if you sort the reviews by date, the more recent ones might all be one-star reviews with comments like the product was expired, or the quality had changed, or even that it appeared to be a knock-off version of a name brand.
  • Is the sizing accurate? If you’re shopping for clothing or shoes, the reviewers will most likely be quick to mention if the sizing is larger or smaller than usual (they’ll suggest you buy the next size up if it’s on the smaller side, or vice versa). And, sometimes those shoes you really want? If several reviews mention the shoes are narrow and you have wider feet, you’ll save yourself disappointment if you have that information upfront.
  • Are the dimensions what you have in mind? The dimensions listed on tiny/cheap versions of products are sometimes listed in centimeters instead of inches, so be careful. That wall hanging, throw rug, or side table might be much smaller than you thought.

If you research everything like this, and really pay attention to the reviews, you might even decide to postpone that big purchase. Sometimes just spending a few hours really learning about the product and its performance (or lack thereof) can be “enough” to satisfy your “need” for something new that day. It can be a buzzkill and take some of the fun out of impulse shopping. And, that will also save you money!