Frugality in the Information Age: How People Use the Internet to Save Money on Everything

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Published on Jul 19, 2022
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Although it seems perfectly natural and intuitive nowadays, using the internet to handle the majority of your everyday necessities (especially when it comes to shopping) is a fairly new phenomenon. If you were to go back in time to 2002 and proclaim that we will be ordering groceries with same-day delivery via their handheld devices in twenty years, or that we’ll forego our cable television bill for the sake of streaming services, people would think you were crazy.

Combine conveniences such as TV streaming and grocery shopping with the rise of fully-remote careers with better pay than stationary office jobs, such as freelance writing or social media management, and you'll begin to see a pattern unfolding in front of you. Omnipresent internet access, rising broadband speeds across the world, and the expanded capabilities of your own equipment contribute to help you save money and time. Whether it's by bundled services, free entertainment, or the never-ending swarm of eCommerce limited-time sales, people really use the internet to save money on everything nowadays, and you should too!

The Nature of Online Shopping

Online vs offline spending habits infographic

We don't often think of it that way, but online shopping saves us loads of money even without any discount or special deal on the products we're shopping around for. In-person retail comes with a whole host of added costs that tend to slip our minds because they seem so inseparable from our daily lives.

Things like the money you spend on gas to get to the shopping mall, the parking fee, the unnecessary purchase you get lured into at the counter, and the inevitable coffee or lunch you're going to stop for during your day-long trip to the mall to buy a single item. Malls were designed to get people to spend more money and time than they initially planned for. Don't get us wrong: there are plenty of marketing tricks and sneaky tactics deployed in online shopping, too! However, a side-by-side comparison of the two reveals that physical retail is much more predatory than its online counterpart when it comes to squeezing extra money out of customers.

One of the reasons why online retailers tend to present potential customers with a better deal than physical stores is the fact that the competition for your attention when browsing the internet is much fiercer than when you're already at the mall, looking to spend some money. eCommerce companies focus on enticing people to click on their website first, and only then try to get them to spend a little extra, to offset the hefty discount promised by the pop-up ad or search result.

Different industries employ different strategies to make online shopping worthwhile for both the seller and customer. There are, however, certain strategies and tricks that are implemented by businesses of all sorts, from fast fashion, through travel agencies, all the way to grocery stores.

Limited Time Offers

Few things in life are more anxiety-inducing than feeling like you're running out of time. Online retailers know this fact all too well and are willing to implement it whenever they can. The fashion industry is most notorious for this, with countdown timers frequently being put up on sites like Shein or Asos. These timers create a false sense of urgency, make it seem like the product you're trying to buy is more scarce than it really is, and induce the fear of missing out (FOMO) on some really good deals.

While these limited-time offers do benefit you as a customer, they can also be considered a retail trap: the truth is that sales are not as scarce as they may want you to think. Just think about how often these timers are plastered all over eCommerce sites! Making use of a sale can save you money, but if you fall for the false urgency one too many times, you might find yourself spending more than you planned.

Virtual Queues

For businesses whose items are truly scarce, introducing virtual queues can be much more beneficial than countdown timers. In the music industry, tickets are frequently sold that way: the publisher/artist announces what time the website selling their tickets is going live, and people will need to queue up for a chance of finalizing the purchase. It's another method of generating artificial urgency, as well as a good way of making a product or service sell out quicker than it normally would.

Coupons

Coupons are arguably the best way of saving money when shopping online. They are easily accessible and available for virtually every category of products and services, from clothing, through electronics, all the way to tickets for live events.

You can find plenty of sites offering discount coupons online, but you should be extremely vigilant about where you're getting your coupons from - many platforms don't really check the validity of these offers, and you may end up spending a lot of your time and effort trying to find a deal that actually works.

At HeyDiscount, we only publish verified hot deals and discount coupons. Our team works tirelessly to find viable offers and check back with companies and providers to confirm their validity.

Beware of Scammers!

Shopping on the Internet can save you money, but just like any industry where hefty discounts and irregular pricing are involved, eCommerce, too, suffers from a plague of scammers and cheats looking to use your frugality to make a quick buck. It can be easy to fall for their tricks, especially if you have financial problems and are desperate to trim down the amount of money you spend whenever you can.

In general, whenever something seems too good to be true, that's because it really is. Whenever eyeing an attractive discount, you should always trace it back to the source. If the website of the company whose product or service you're looking to purchase does not mention a sale or promotion and its check-out screen does not have a space for a discount code, then you likely found a fake coupon created to generate clicks.

Finally, you should never give your financial information or send money to any intermediary site that is not related in any way, shape, or form to the actual seller of the item you want to buy. More often than not, deals involving requests for money are nothing more than a simple way to extort cash from unwitting shoppers.

Find Deals Safely and Effectively with HelloDiscount

Thankfully, it's very easy to spot scammers from afar if you know what to look for, and even easier once you have found some go-to places for finding promotional offers and discounts. The rest of this article will take you through some of the most popular categories among online shoppers. Once you're done reading it, you'll have a better understanding of how online commerce works across a variety of industries, as well as how you can use that knowledge to maximize savings!

See the World on the Cheap

Air travel has become cheaper than ever, and the same thing can be said about finding accommodation, provided that you know where to look. While cheap airlines and price comparison platforms were responsible for driving this radical decrease in the costs of travel, they are also guilty of using your internet service provider information to alter prices depending on your geographical location.

How Airlines and Hotels Use Your Data to Raise Prices

One popular theory claims that airline and price comparison websites use cookies to alter prices depending on your background and history of visiting the site. While it sounds plausible, there is no legitimate proof that this is, in fact, a practice that the air travel industry uses on a regular basis (yet).

However, users are profiled when accessing these websites, and with the help of a practice known as dynamic pricing, they can assign a fare class to different customers. These fare classes are determined based on the work of algorithms, which might be considered a discriminatory practice, as it grants preferential prices to certain users, whereas elevating the fares for others. In short, dynamic pricing algorithms (much like surge pricing) take the data that airlines have on you, combine it with information about the particular route you're interested in, and returns a fare it deems suitable for your profile. Of course, at the end of the day, it is designed to maximize profit for these companies.

Using VPNs to Get the Best Ticket Prices

One of the things that plays a major role in dynamic pricing algorithms determining the price of your flight ticket is your geographical location. Let's say you're currently in New York City and want to book a flight to Tokyo. The interest in NYC to Tokyo flights is the highest in the United States, particularly the New York City area. The more people are looking to get on that flight, the more airlines can inflate the prices - simple as that.

The easiest way to get around getting stuffed into an unfavourable fare class is by using a virtual private network (VPN). In the simplest of terms, VPNs re-route your internet connection through a completely different country, making you appear as though you're logging in from that place. Most premium VPN programs allow you to select the country you'll be connecting to, making it easy to "trick" sites into showing you lower fares. Try it out by switching between countries and comparing fares for the NYC-Tokyo flight we mentioned earlier. When choosing your country, look for places óutside of the United States or Japan to make sure that the interest around this particular flight is low, to get the best possible deal. In this case, a European or African country would be your best bet.

Stay Away From Travel Agencies!

Back in the day, booking a holiday through a travel agency was pretty much the only viable way to secure a vacation in a foreign country without spending a fortune. After all, they specialize in preparing packages that include transport and accommodation. In the pre-Internet days, it would be a nightmare to organize these things by yourself.

However, with how easy it is to book flights and hotels online nowadays, travel agencies have become near-obsolete. According to a study done by CHOICE, an Australian customer advocacy group, luxury getaways for couples are 36% cheaper when booked independently. The same is true for solo and family vacations (9% cheaper).

There might still be some merit to using travel agencies - some people are fine with paying extra for their expertise and service that can make vacationing easier and hassle-free. However, if saving money is what you're after, you should plan your holiday trips yourself.

The Very Best Online Deals for Tourists

Increase your savings further by heading over to HeyDiscount and making use of our travel and vacation coupons to enjoy hefty discounts on hotel bookings, SPAs, and even local tour guides. Combine that with our vehicles and transportation discount codes to save on airport parking and car rentals to save money on nearly every step of your journey!

Save Money on Clothing

As we already mentioned, fashion is one of, if not the most popular sectors of eCommerce. In 2021, apparel and accessories amounted to 29.5% of all eCommerce sales in the US. It's already an impressive number, and experts expect it to get higher with time. The shift of customer preferences from in-store shopping to online platforms is not without a reason - eCommerce is a lot cheaper, with more frequent sales and a wider choice of items than at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Fast-fashion Retail Stores vs. Online Outlets

The numbers don't lie: online apparel stores are picking up steam and will likely exceed fast fashion household names that still rely on their physical locations for most of their revenue. A Chinese eCommerce clothing store Shein has brought in $15.9 billion in revenue in 2021 alone, with an increase of 398% from 2019. For comparison, Zara made $19.6 billion in the same year. While Zara is a fast-fashion giant with a well-established reputation around the world, Shein was founded in 2008 and only generated its first $1 billion in 2017. This data is the best proof that eCommerce is on-track to overtake physical retail when it comes to apparel sales by the end of the decade.

Know WHEN to Buy

One of the most crucial things about saving on your apparel purchases is knowing the right time to buy. The vast majority of online clothing stores hold regular sales, and in most cases, they happen on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The most frequent ones are only applicable to a small share of items, therefore you should consider researching these sales ahead of time to know when a particular garment you're after is likely to be discounted. Finally, stay on the lookout for major blowout sales that entail the vast majority of a site's merchandise going on sale. They usually happen four to six times per year and are tied to the start of a particular season (spring-summer, fall-winter) or holiday (Christmas and Easter sales).

Cheap, High-Quality Clothes: It’s Possible!

One of the reasons why online-only platforms like Shein are so much cheaper than its competitors is the fact that they can ship their goods to customers directly from the source, without relying on multiple middlemen to get the garments to customers. Stores like Zara or H&M, on the other hand, have to pay boatloads of money for their physical locations, including things like maintenance, rent, and employee salaries. In order for these companies to turn a profit, all of these expenses need to be reflected in the elevated product prices.

Regardless of your style and preferences, you can find the right clothes for yourself for a fair price on the Internet. When shopping around for premium brand items, make sure to stop by HeyDiscount's clothing and fashion coupons section to allow yourself to rejuvenate your wardrobe without feeling guilty about the pricetags!

Don’t Overspend on Your Hobbies

Prior to the rise of the Internet, most hobbies were prohibitively expensive. You had to go to a specialty store that charged elevated import prices for things like paint, photography equipment, or sports gear. In the 2010s, most of these hobby stores moved online, where they were able to scale up and increase their revenue by going international without the need to keep up with ever-increasing rental fees for their storefronts.

Frugal Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring

Whether you have money worries or you're simply frugal by nature, it doesn't mean that you have to give up on your hobbies and live a boring, money-oriented lifestyle. With online stores like Etsy being a huge success, not only do you have easy access to all sorts of merchandise related to your interests, but you can also sell your own arts and crafts on the side! There are currently 4.36 million active sellers on Etsy, and with nearly 82 million active buyers, finding your niche audience is definitely worth a shot. What better way to combine frugality with fun times than by monetizing your hobby?

Specialized Outlets vs. Large, General Platforms

So, where can you find the most value when it comes to shopping for items related to your interests? For starters, you can opt for a large platform like Amazon. It accounts for 43% of all digital sales and will likely have everything you need and more. However, you might have to accept the fact that the product you'll receive will not be of the best quality if you go for the cheapest option.

On the other hand, you can take the road less travelled and try to find niche marketplaces that only sell items related to your specific hobby. Whether it's on a platform like Etsy or an independently-owned website, small business owners and up-and-coming entrepreneurs are often willing to sell products at lower prices to get some initial sales. This approach may require more time and effort from you, but you'll end up receiving high-quality items all the while supporting small businesses and start-ups!

Fantastic Deals on the Best Equipment

Whether you're a musician, painter, or an avid reader, HeyDiscount's hobbies and crafts page will help you save money on your leisure activities so that you can pursue your passions without feeling guilty about the amount of money you spend on them!

Meet Your Everyday Needs Comfortably

Do you hate going to the supermarket on a weekly basis? You're not the only one. Grocery shopping is one of those simple tasks that can get unbearably daunting. Big box stores like Walmart are always crowded and unnecessarily confusing, not to mention the pain of having to find a parking spot! Thankfully, the "e-grocery" industry is rapidly rising and continuously coming up with solutions to making the ordeal of buying your necessities online and getting them delivered to you as simple and easy as possible.

Online Grocery Shopping: What’s All the Fuss About?

According to the most recent data, digital grocery sales in the United States made up 9.5% of the entire food and beverage market, and their market share is expected to rise to 20.5% by the end of 2026. This is a similar growth trajectory to the one experienced by the apparel industry in the 2010s (as evidenced by Shein's success story), and it suggests that online grocery shopping makes a lot more sense for both the customers and suppliers. No more wasting precious gas on the weekly trips to Whole Foods or lengthy lines at the checkout counter!

The Importance of Planning Out Your Monthly Food Spending

Whether you've already made the transition to e-grocery shopping or remain devoted to heading out to the store every Saturday, you should take some time every month to allocate a strict food budget for the next four weeks or so. Knowing how much you can spend on groceries will take some stress out of the whole process and can help you stick to your healthy lifestyle goals!

You Don’t Have to Splurge to Enjoy Yourself

Whenever you feel like treating yourself to a fine bottle of wine or specialty coffee beans, you should look to make the most of it by finding the best grocery stores and markets discounts online! We've got you covered with coupons for specialty meat stores, organically-grown food, and plenty of other earthly pleasures you can indulge in!

Saving on New Electronics

There is no escaping from technology and electronic devices. Unless you have chosen to move to the Himalayas and pursue the ascetic lifestyle of a Buddhist monk, regularly spending money on phone and computer upgrades is necessary to stay connected in this day and age. Although these are unavoidable expenses, there are ways of making them much, much cheaper.

Unique Deals From Manufacturers

Let's be honest here: planned obsolescence is a real thing amongst smartphone manufacturers. The ongoing roll-out of updates that are increasingly taxing on our devices' memories and computing power is a deliberate strategy to get us to splurge on the new and improved models. Thankfully, some of these companies allow customers to trade in their old phones for brand new ones. Of course, you'll still have to pay a bit of money on top of the trade, but more often than not, it'll amount to about 50% of the asking price of the newest release (depending on the state of the device you're trading in).

According to Apple Insider, 30% of Apple users have traded in their iPhone 12 for the newest model during the latest release cycle. It's a great way of saving money on a brand new phone without settling for less storage space or a discounted model.

Buying Digital Goods

Digital goods such as video games, in-game items, or specialized software are often overly expensive. Back in the days of CDs, you could always buy a used disc for less than half the price. Nowadays, with most of the market relocated to the digital sphere, saving on games and software became much trickier.

Gaming E-Markets

Online P2P marketplaces like G2A are all the rage when it comes to frugal gamers. Players can trade Steam keys for games or outright sell their entire accounts with libraries full of AAA releases for a fraction of what you'd pay for these games individually.

Software Buying Tips

A lot of the most popular programs, such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office, have moved to the subscription-based model. It's a convenient way for these and other providers to overcharge their customers for software that used to cost a fraction of what it does today. Thanks to the deals that many companies and universities have with these brands, chances are that your school or the company you work for can provide you with access to Photoshop, Illustrator, or Office for free - all you've got to do is ask. Alternatively, if you don't need to use that software too frequently and have a library card, you might want to check if the program you need is not available for use at your local library.

The Best Deals for the Newest Electronics

Whether it's 5% or 50%, having an electronics and technology discount coupon at the ready is always a good thing. Make sure to visit HeyDiscount whenever you want to buy a new phone or gadget - we're sure to help you make the most out of your budget!

Save on Beauty Products Without Compromising on Quality

The beauty and makeup industry are one of the most oversaturated market niches. New brands seem to pop up on a daily basis, and the established household names continue to pump out new product lines with astonishing speed. How can you save on beauty products with so much choice and a limited budget?

Focus on the Ingredients

Before you start looking for ways to save as much money as possible on your beauty and personal care shopping, you need to understand that there's much more at play here than just the price. Many such products contain harmful ingredients that can damage your skin or even pose a risk to your health after long periods of usage. Before looking for deals, make sure to know what ingredients to avoid when buying make-up and other beauty products.

Recognizing High-Quality Cosmetics and Care Products

It can be difficult to make the right decision about cosmetics and personal care products when you're at a physical store, blinded by flashy adverts and coerced by the annoying, yet weirdly convincing sales assistants. Here are a few pointers you should follow when picking out quality cosmetics:

  • Learn more about what's good for your own skin. Test yourself for allergies, if possible.
  • Whenever you can, go for organic and locally-sourced products - if they were created and sourced nearby, fewer artificial additives were needed to preserve them.
  • Keep tabs on the most recent cosmetics research and lists of commonly found ingredients you should avoid

A Whole New World of Online Beauty Retailers

Major stores like Sephora often overprice the organic, healthy products and give customers on a budget little choice but to settle for the less expensive, unhealthy alternatives. Thanks to the rise of online beauty stores, finding organic products that will actually benefit your health and push you to reinvent your skincare routine. You can find discount codes for beauty and wellness sellers specialising in healthy products at HeyDiscount!

Conclusion: New Era of Consumerism

Online retail has really changed the way we look at consumerism. It also rejuvenated the competitive nature of certain markets which have become stale due to large corporations buying up all the real estate and choking out small and medium businesses with quality products, but smaller budgets. Nowadays, with a bit of time and an internet plan, you can use websites like HeyDiscount to your advantage and never have to settle for less due to a tight budget!

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Charlotte Marshall

Lead Editor

Being a full-time content writer and part-time shopaholic, globe-trotter and avid lover of all things food (and wine)...I love researching the best money-saving hacks so that I can help fuel my own passions, and yours!

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