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Twenty years ago the notion that you could do all your shopping from a tiny computer you hold in your hand would have been something out of sci-fi.
Today we live in that sci-fi world, and we know it isn't a utopia, but by following some simple money saving tips, you'll have some cash left in the bank and we'll be one step closer to flying cars.
Distance Selling Regulations: Your rights
If you buy online, you are covered by distance selling regulations as you can't know for sure that it is the item you want until you see it up close. This means you'll have seven days to return any item, faulty or otherwise, for a full refund including delivery costs. You may still have to pay the delivery cost of returning the item. The idea is that you can't know for sure if it is the item you wanted until you see it up close.
Before buying from an online retailer, a supermarket, or a high street shop, do a quick search online for discount vouchers. We've previously explained on our blog how to save money with discount vouchers, some of the best voucher websites are VoucherCloud, VoucherCodes, and MyVoucherCodes.
Department Store or Brand direct?
Sometimes the item you want will be available through a department store website and through a specific brand website, such as with clothing and footwear brands like Office, Diesel, or Clarks. The department store might list the item cheaper if they are running a sale or promotion that wouldn't be available on the brand's own website. Conversely, a brand might offer cheaper deals directly through their own website, but will not heavily advertise this so as not to harm their relationship with retail partners. The solution is to check brand websites AND department store websites AND shopping comparison websites, and go with whoever is offering the best deal.
It's Not All Spam
If there's a brand you particularly like, or a store you regularly shop at, find out if they have an email newsletter that you can subscribe to. You may feel like you have enough junk mail already, but these newsletters will often include details of special offers or discount codes for loyal customers.
Get Cashback On Your Purchases
There are websites that take advantage of affiliate marketing schemes, which will actually pay you to spend, i.e. give you cash back on your purchases on certain products or sites. Read our money saving tips on Cashback sites for more details.
All Around the World
If you're buying something of higher value, don't just look at UK retailers. Sometimes there are great deals overseas. When comparing prices, be sure to take the following into account:
- Higher delivery cost
- Longer delivery time
- Paying with a credit card gives you additional purchase protection
- Currency conversion rates may be higher than market value
- Currency conversion fees could be applied by the payment merchant or your bank or credit card company
- Customs duty is payable on goods from outside the EU
- Value Added Tax applies to goods from outside the EU
- Is the item compatible in the UK? Be careful of plug types, voltage, DVD regions, etc.
- Be sure the website is secure and legitimateIf you have problems with the item, will you be able to communicate in English with the seller's customer service representative?
Order Well In Advance
You'll save money by choosing the slowest delivery method on offer so make sure you order items well in advance, especially if you need it for a particular day, like clothes for an event or Christmas presents.
Can You Get It Free?
Before you buy anything reusable, have a quick look at sites like Freecycle and Freegle, where you'll find all sorts of items for free in your region. If you're able to collect the item you won't have to pay a penny.
Keep track of how much you spend with financial management software from Money Dashboard and you'll see the difference in your bank balance. Just think, if you start saving now, you could afford one of those flying cars when they are finally invented.