How To Be a Smart Online Shopper


Photo by JayGirlsMom

Online shopping is just so convenient! We can buy gifts for the kids, stuff for the house...all without leaving the comfort of our homes. And we can even do it in our PJs! Plus, you can often get better deals online than if you went to the store yourself. It's almost like online shopping was invented for busy moms!

But with this convenience comes concern. That's why I talked to Hillary Mendhelson, MSN's Online Shopping Expert and founder and President of thepurplebook: The Definitive Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping

Here are her useful tips and tricks on how to make sure your transactions are secure and best of all, how to save money!

First you've got to know about Hillary. She's a mom of two kids, now 10 and 12. And she got into becoming an online shopping expert during an "ah-ha" moment she had while surfing the web looking for Star Wars party favors for her sons 4th birthday party. She found inexpensive Anakin Skywalker watches! And soon, her savvy online skills were called upon by friends and family. She put together thepurplebook, an online shopping guide, to offer her info to everyone! And she's giving us CafeMoms these helpful tips:

  • Shop online with your credit card. Debit card can present other issues and potentially shut down your bank account for 90 days. A service like Pay Pal is also good to use.
  • Shop online using same credit card. Reason: You'll never forget what you ordered and you can track all transactions from one spot. This is also good so you can spot any fraudulent charges.
  • Shop reputable merchants -- name brands. Check thepurplebook for a list of vetted merchants...and the best online shops.
  • Look for SSL in URL bar somewhere before typing in your private information during a purchase online -- shows it is a secured server.
  • The letters "https" at start of URL also shows it is secure.
  • If you ever question a sites security, look for phone number to call. No number? Shop somewhere else.
  • Review shipping and return policies. Some merchants only do credit. Be a smart online shopper and know the policy before you purchase.
  • Before you submit order, print that page. This page has all the vitals -- size, color, date of purchase. Also print receipt.
  • Save all email correspondence until you receive item.
  • Don't be afraid to buy big ticket items online. You can get great deals. Plus, if you need something delivered, chances are it will be cheaper to buy online and pay shipping than go to store and pay for delivery. A lot of online merchants have "white glove" delivery where they not only deliver, but set the item up for you.
  • Read all the fine print. Make sure electronics are not refurbished. You also want to make sure you have the warranty.
  • Watch out for phishing -- just like fishing, it's the hook and reeling you in to get personal information. Don't fall for this!
  • Beware of scammers. Some go as far to mimic your bank  or credit card emails. First thing you have to ask yourself: Does my bank or credit company have my email? Then check for phone number on email. No number? Delete. If there is a number, call it and question who they are. Credit card companies rarely send emails.
  • You can get better deals online. Check for coupons for over 600 retailers.
  • Get a coupon. Call 800 number just before you finish order and ask customer service for one -- chances are good that there is some offer code they can share with you.
  • Register with favorite online retailer to get info on exclusive sales.
  • It's also good to have a separate email for online shopping, so your personal email doesn't get mixed in.
  • Check MSN savvy online shopping guide, Fundamentals of Online Shopping, for more information.

Have your own online shopping tips? Share with us!



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missl... misslonely

these tips are great! i love online shopping and im always wary so i do look for somet of these things. but just learned more thanks :)

sahm03 sahm03

Great info. Living overseas, I do most of my shopping online. Its also good to google the company name and put couponcodes so u can find alot more sites and coupon codes. I save alot this way and I'm always looking for free shipping. Some companies offer free shipping with a minimum so I wait until I need alot of stuff from that company and get the free shipping. Some companies also have wishlists where u can save ur items for another time. I do that too so I remember what I want and they are all at once place to view.

workgoat workgoat



mypoo... mypoohbear

I do 90% of my shopping online. I love the website Retailmenot. They have tons of codes you can use for many different retailers and save a bundle. I shop alot at Aafes (military) and I find coupons all the time for 20% off a total purchase. Not to mention Aafes offers free shipping and no tax. Can't beat that!!

RanaA... RanaAurora

Great tips... except there's nothing WRONG with refurbished electronics, as long as you know what that means.  You can often get really awesome stuff for significantly cheaper that way.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Good point, RanaAurora. You are right -- nothing wrong with refurbished. What I meant was to read the fine print so you aren't expecting a new product and then get a refurbished one when in fact you wanted to new one.

JayGi... JayGirlsMom

great tips! and a cutie in the picture too!!!! happy holidays and happy shopping to you all!

heath... heatherfoley312


Online shoppers shouldn't forget that coupon code websites like provide coupon codes for discounts to hundreds of popular online retailers (i.e. Zappos and Macy's). Coupon Cowgirl offers over 600 stores, as well as suggestions and tips on how to save money on one easily navigable website. Many online retailers are now offering last minute discounts sitewide, as well as on gift cards and Free 2day Shipping for the holidays.

momof... momof3nCT

Hi moms,

I am sending this invitation to you to join Aisle19. This is one of the fastest growing social shopping networks on the web today! You can get a free account with Aisle19 that lets you shop from over 600 stores you are already shopping from and get paid cash back and get exclusive discounts as well. But you have to be invited - which is what I am doing. It's really a no brainer. Watch this 3 minute video that explains the concept  and if you scroll down on the first page you will see a link to join now so you can get your own account. Let me know if you have any questions.


In this economy every dollar saved or earned is appreciated!


PS, ticketmaster is listed as one of the vendors, which means you can also get cash back for theatre and amusement park tickets.


I just purchased my baby's bouncer, crib, swing, high chair and swing. My cash back arrived and the merchandise was shipped directly to my home. Many stores offer free shipping to your home or to their nearest store!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!bouncing mom

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