Be a smart Internet shopper

Posted: Updated:

Green Monday, or Dec. 15, is said to the biggest online shopping day of the season, and the last chance to guarantee shipping by Christmas Day. Some analyst predict Green Monday will account for 3.2 percent of holiday sales, a bigger share than last year, as some retailers are expected to offer mores sales closer to the holiday.

For many consumers, shopping online is convenient. For overspenders, the Internet is too convenient. Since most Internet purchases are made with a credit card, planning ahead is a must. In a matter of minutes, you can charge holiday gifts that take months or even years to pay off. Below are tips for spending carefully while shopping online.

Develop a holiday spending plan. Before you go shopping, determine how much you can afford to spend and what you need to buy. Don't forget to include non-gift items in your plan.

Comparison shop. Be sure to take full advantage of your ability to quickly and easily comparison shop products and prices online. Watch for sales and other perks, such as free shipping.

Shop with a list. Create a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases, carefully consider before shopping for yourself or responding to pop-up ads and email advertisements.

Track your online purchases. Since most online holiday purchases will wind up on one of your credit cards, it pays to keep track. Print out all receipts so that you are not surprised by large bills at the end of the year.

Plan for pay-off. Set a goal for paying off any holiday debt in a reasonable amount of time. Keep in mind that a $1,000 charge can take more than 12 years to pay-off if your interest rate is 17 percent and you make only the minimum monthly payment.

Finally, remember there is more to the holiday season than shopping -- starting a debt free New Year is priceless. Sometimes it's hard to escape the "one extra little gift" mentality, however, even small items can add up to be budget-breakers.