Tips for fun, safe online shopping

November 12 | 2 min read

As more and more people have been forced to shop online, as we manage lock down in Victoria and across the country, it’s important that we think about how we keep our money safe. This article looks at five failsafe strategies.

It’s more than 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and Victorians are well and truly settled into “the new normal” of working from home and limiting our movements to only a few hours a day, and only within a designated area. We are now proficient in setting up meetings via Zoom, software we didn’t know existed this time last year, and are getting used to breathing through a three-layered mask.

This shift in society has resulted in a huge increase in online shopping and Australians aren’t wasting a minute grabbing bargains and one-of-kind buys, with millions of Australians shopping online. The ABC reported that based on Australia Post’s deliveries data, there was an 80 per cent increase in online shopping over the eight weeks to May 15, compared to last year1.
Not only convenient, online shopping is generally very safe, especially if you stick to secure sites where the web address starts with ‘https’. Only two out of three of us check if a site is secure2, so make this a priority.

With so much choice available, the temptation to overspend can be irresistible. Coles and Woolworths have seen an increase in profits, but so have retails such as Harvey Normal who recorded a 30% profit over July and August compared to last year3. It’s easy to spend online so it’s worth introducing a few personal safeguards to ensure online shopping doesn’t leave you strapped for cash or weighed down by debt.

1. Try the 60-minute rule
Skip the hype about limited time offers and try taking a 60-minute breather before committing to a purchase. With the benefit of a cooling off period, you could find that must-have buy isn’t so essential after all.

2. Read the refund policy – carefully
When you buy from an overseas retailer, the consumer rights we enjoy here in Australia don’t always apply. Be especially careful to check the fine print on refunds. In particular, what sort of timeframe are you given to claim a refund and who pays the freight on goods returned – you or the e-tailer?

3. Check out reviews
If you’re unsure about the quality of merchandise offered by an online store, fish around on social media for product reviews or check out appraisals by trusted authorities (consumer group Choice’s website is handy here). A few honest opinions can be the key to avoiding a dud buy.

4. Save smart
Although e-coupons can shave a few dollars of a purchase, don’t let coupons restrict you to a handful of online stores. The best buys could lie elsewhere, and shopping around is always the best way to secure a genuine bargain.

5. Think about where that money would be better off
Regardless of how big or small that purchase is, consider whether your money may be better off elsewhere, like in savings or superannuation. Did you know your employer can organise to put more of your take-home salary into super? Or if you prefer, you can set up a direct debit and make regular payments from your bank account. Either way, make your money work for you.
Always stick to a set spending limit and know what you can comfortably afford to pay. It’s a simple way to enjoy the freedom of online shopping without blowing your budget.


This article was brought to you by ME. To find out more, please visit Mebank
Members Equity Bank Limited ABN 56 070 887 679 Australian Credit Licence 229500.

1 ABC news
2 Veda, Hackers get serious about causing mischief as identity takeovers rise 59% in two years, 7 October 2015
3 Sydney Morning Herald

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