How to become a smart shopper and avoid online shopping risks

It is easy to compare prices, save enough time, and also avoid the rush while shopping, as we have the internet at our fingertips. But online shopping is also a prime risk zone where people might become a victim of identity theft.


Recent studies show that nearly 51% of purchases are made online, and the number is still growing. This increase in online shopping has also made it easy for cybercriminals to harm common shoppers. Consumers are becoming victims just because more people are using the internet without knowing the potential risk and how to avoid such a threat.


So, before plunging into the internet, you must be aware of the dos and don’ts of online shopping. This way you may protect your personal information and reduce the risk of an online scam or identity theft.


Compare prices and discounts –

Most of the online shopping sites offer great discounts throughout the year, but you must make sure you are getting the best discount available for your product. You must compare similar products with the value of their offered discounts, prices, and delivery charges. Choose the best item with the maximum discount available and make sure you apply the right coupon code for the product.

Check out reviews –

No matter what happens on the internet, no matter how much discount you are getting, always shop after checking out the reviews given by previous shoppers. You can use your PC or smartphone to check reviews at any point in time. It’s better to buy products that have mostly positive reviews.

Prepare a list –

Make a quick list of the products you need primarily. Make sure you prepare a list considering the best brands, best prices, maximum discounts, and quality of the products. Now you can arrange the order of buying based on the requirements or price. If you find out some items in your list are on sale, you may buy them first.

Create a budget –

Buying items at discount through online shopping can’t help you save money. You should set a budget for every item you want to buy. Set a budget based on what you can afford and for how long you’ll be using the item.

Read the fine print on every item –

Most online shopping sites monitor their visitors and offer discounts on the basis of their age, spending pattern, choice of products, selected brands, and other important factors. While buying some item, make sure to go through the terms and conditions a.k.a fine print associated with the product. It is possible that a certain big discount is applicable to you only if you purchase worth a certain amount, or buy 1 get 1, or on certain brands only. You may also need to check the warranty and return policy of the product.

Use cash while making payments –

You’ll spend less when you purchase items with cash. Use cash while buying products from the store; you might get a good cash discount. Of course, it is easier to pay using a credit or debit card when you shop online. In that case, make sure you are paying back the card within 3 to 4 days after buying such products.

Verify the website’s security –

You must keep yourself away from the online shopping risks as much as possible. For that reason, always shop from a website that is secure. How do you locate a secure website? Find websites with “HTTPS” in the URL, or look for a tiny padlock icon in your browser before confirming the site as an authentic, secure website.

Keep track of your statements –

Track your bank statements every month. If you ever notice a discrepancy, you may demand an explanation from the retailer. For example, if your credit card company overcharged you the interest on your credit card, you call the retailer and ask them to correct the error.


Avoid impulse buying –

It’s wise to avoid impulse buying as much as possible. If it’s not on your list, make sure you don’t add it for the time being. Online shops may give you lucrative discounts on items you don’t need right now. But, you should avoid buying the stuff you didn’t plan to purchase. This way, you can tame your overspending habits and save a decent amount from your monthly budget.

Stop using cards –

Using a credit or debit card for online shopping can trigger the chances of online fraud and identity theft. Once you provide your card details into the online shopping site’s money transfer portal, there’s a chance that hackers may hack your login and fetch your personal data from there. So, to increase your online shopping security, make sure you do not save your card details on that website just to make “one-click easy” payments.

Do not purchase food items online –

It is quite difficult to visit the grocery store, again and again, only to buy fruits and veggies. But presently, many websites deliver the purest form of food products, especially organic food or health products at cheap rates.

But do not buy food or health products online. Fresh food items and health products should be purchased directly from stores to ensure authenticity. Moreover, health products should be bought from popular stores since there are many websites online where fake products are being sold.

Avoid social networking site deals –

Do not trust such deals. Most of the URLs appearing in social ads are customized and will redirect you to social media sites. It means you might get redirected to a fraudulent website. You can view these deals as a reference but go directly to the retailer’s website for more details.

Avoid taking your friends with you –

It’s quite amazing to go shopping as a group, or with friends. But trust me…it’s also dangerous. If you need to shop smartly, it is wise to go alone. This way you’ll get most of the good deals left only for you; with friends, you might not get all the offers and discounts alone.


Also, people spend more time than usual when they are accompanied by friends. They may engage in impulse buying most of the time when they are with friends. As a result, they fall into the debt trap.

Don’t use wire money to pay for any product –

After buying a product from an online auction site, such as eBay, the seller might ask you to wire your payment. That is a mistake, don’t do it. Wiring money may push you into a fraud situation. You can’t get your money back if the item you ordered never arrives. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive your item.

Don’t forget to inspect your new product –

Notify your seller as soon as you get your package delivered. Check your product properly and call the seller if you have any issues. The seller may pick up your package and if the issue is genuine, you’ll get the replacement or the money will be refunded.

Don’t shop using public computers –

Online shopping will require your personal financial data, like credit card number, name, address, pin code, etc. So, if you are using a public network computer, like the one at a coffee shop or bookstore, stop it right now to avoid online shopping risk.

Hackers may access your private data by accessing your account through a public network. Those networks are pretty vulnerable to hackers and they can easily sneak in. Shared computer networks can be bugged with spyware or other malicious viruses. These viruses can harm your computer and report your credit card information to hackers. If you really need to use a public computer or network, try scanning it first with antivirus, internet security software like Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Norton, Mcafee, or any other software. This software can even increase your online shopping security to the next level if you use them at home, on your personal PC, laptop, or phone.

Do’s and don’ts of online shopping can be controversial. So, without thinking much, just follow your instincts. When you create your list, try to follow the order and don’t buy anything that’s not there. If you are getting a better offer for your product, check them out. But whatever you do, keep patience.

How much is it helpful to refinance student loans after marriage?

When you get married, many separate things tend to become one. Being a married couple you may have to experience a lot of new changes in your daily lifestyle. You might also have to make various financial decisions, like combining both of your finances by opening a joint account.

The same can happen with your student loan debt. When you are a bachelor, your student loans have a different impact on each of your credit scores, as both of your papers are separate as well as credit reports.

But once you are married, one of your debts may harm the other’s credit score. Couples can handle their love life and debt separately with their own earnings. Some couples opt for a new method; they choose to consolidate their student loans through a student loan refinance option.

If both of you have student loans separately, then you may try to consolidate your student loans under any one of your names. You might be interested in consolidating your debt together so that it’ll be easier to share repayment responsibilities and get out of debt soon.

Can you consolidate student loans with a spouse?

After graduating from college, you might have multiple student loans on your shoulder, and possibly your spouse has them too. It may become difficult to manage both of your student loan debt with multiple lenders, monthly student loan payments, and track several due dates.

Stress due to this type of debt can take a toll on your mental health. And gradually, it may affect your libido. Approximately one-third of borrowers stated to have experienced a decrease in their sex drive due to student loan debt stress.

Refinancing student loans after marriage can combine both of your existing student loans into a single larger loan. Often, student loan borrowers might have multiple other loans, so through consolidation, it can be easier to handle them. However, if you have taken out a loan under a Federal Student Loan program, you cannot consolidate the loan with a private student loan under the same name.

So, how do you consolidate both of your student loans? You need to find a private refinancing company and approach them. These private refinancing companies may allow student loan consolidation with a spouse, but you must remember that you’ll lose all the benefits of federal student loans. These benefits may include access to income-based repayment programs, eligibility for deferment and forbearance, and eligibility for student loan forgiveness.


Both federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing through a private lender. But before refinancing both of your student loans together, you must ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which loans should you tackle first?
  • What money investment can you put on hold?
  • How will you make monthly payments?
  • Will your tax status affect your income-based repayment plan?
  • Who’s going to handle the payments?
  • What do you expect from student loan refinancing?
  • Does refinancing fit in with your other financial goals?

Find out all the answers first. Then have a look at these pros and cons and decide if refinancing your student loans with a private company will work best for you.

Pros and cons of consolidating both of your student loans after marriage

Pros of consolidating student loans with a spouse

Refinancing student loans after marriage can sound appealing. If you want to consolidate your student loan with your partner, it will make a lot of sense. Here are some unique advantages of it:

1. You can manage your total debt with one easy payment

If you and your spouse have multiple student loans, it might be a headache to keep track of those due dates and multiple payments, every month. While handling so many accounts, it’s quite easy to make mistakes and forget payments. This may hurt your credit score and even cause you heavy late fees.

While opting for spousal loan refinancing, you may consolidate your multiple student loans into one. After doing so, you’ll have one due date to remember and one easy monthly payment to make.

2. You might save thousands from your wallet

If you and your spouse want to combine your loans and apply for a refinance, the lender may check both your income and credit reports. So, both your credit score and credit history will be evaluated while determining new refinance loan terms. If one of your records is good, and your income and creditworthiness have a decent level, you might be eligible for a lower interest rate.

If both of you can qualify for a lower interest rate, you can easily manage to save a decent amount over the total loan period.

3. You can go long term with a lower monthly payment

When you take out a refinancing loan to consolidate both of your student loans, you can choose a repayment term that suits you the best. If you have a shortage of money or are having financial hardship, you can opt for a longer repayment term. This will reduce your monthly payment to a significant level.

It is right that if you go for this method, you’ll pay more in interest over the length of the loan. But, on the contrary, you have a breathing space every month from paying a good amount that may harm your budget.

Cons of consolidating student loans with a spouse

While consolidating your student loans with a spouse comes with good benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks that you should consider before making the final decision.

1. You have to give up all the federal benefits and protections

You need to work with a private lender and refinance your student loans if you want to consolidate your loans together. If you have federal student loans (loans from the Department of Education) along with private student loans, you have to refinance the loans through a private lender. But don’t forget you have to let go of all special federal benefits and protections when you refinance. These may include:

  • Income-driven repayment (IDR) options:
    It may be available based on your income and loan balance. With an IDR plan, your loan payments will be set at a percentage of your current income. If you refinance through a private lender, you’ll lose access to IDR plans altogether.
  • Loan forgiveness: If you refinance your student loans through a private lender, you’ll lose the privilege to opt for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
  • Loan discharge: With federal loans, you may opt for a special option where your student loans could be discharged. For example, if you or your spouse become disabled due to any reason, you may apply for a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge. If you refinance, you’re no longer eligible for the loan discharge option.

2. You might have to carry your spouse’s debt even after a divorce

Unfortunately, if your marriage ends in divorce, you still have to make payments on the refinance loan every month, considering the loan is taken out by both of you.

Any debt that is taken out before your marriage is solely yours. After marriage, your spouse isn’t responsible for the student loans you borrowed while in college. If you divorce, the debt remains in your name.

If you consolidate your student loans with your spouse and refinance the loans in both of your names, both of you are equally responsible for paying off the debt. Even after a divorce, if one of the partners doesn’t keep up with the loan payments, the other one is still responsible for making them. If the 2nd person is you, it may affect your budget drastically.

So, you need to keep these cons in mind and make your final decision regarding student loan refinancing after marriage. But if you consider overall benefits and drawbacks, spousal loan refinancing can be a wise solution to help you manage your student loan debt.

So, do your homework and understand all the pros and cons of consolidating student loans together, and make the right choice for your family.


How to become a successful money manager in 2019

Keeping your money organized is not as difficult as launching a rocket from your backyard. It doesn’t require professional skills to become a money manager. But it would be a mistake if you spend all your money from your paycheck as soon as you get one.


So, is there any guaranteed formula to become a successful money manager? I guess not. You need not just to know how to earn money but also how to maintain the flow and how to make it work for you. You should have full control of all money that enters or leaves your wallet. However, there are a few steps that you can follow to get into the process. So, check out these unique tips that can help you to emerge as a successful money manager in the coming year.

1. Ignore money and focus on goals

Instead of thinking about how to become a successful money manager, you should shift your focus to your life goals. You need to understand that money should be used for fulfilling your goals. So, for that reason, you need to establish your life goals and invest your money to get success.


It’s a wise decision to save for prime life goals like retirement, paying off debts, marriage, etc. It also makes sense to earn dollars for short-term goals like a family tour in Europe or buying a new house.

2. Understand your cash flow

You may need to understand your cash flow if you want to manage your money. You can make a plan to control your finances if you know when you’ll be getting your paycheck. If your income is irregular, make an emergency plan based on worst-case scenarios.


Note down your income details such as income sources, or the date of your paycheck, and keep the details with you. This way you can plan your spending by considering the date and cash in hand. Once you become aware of your cash flow pattern, you might even prepare a budget plan on your gross income rather than considering your net income.

3. Ask your employer for a raise

One of the best ways to become a successful money manager in 2019 is to increase the amount in your paycheck. Talk to your boss and show him the stats about your performance in the organization and all your achievements at work. Then, ask for a raise.

4. Negotiate your bills

Always negotiate all the bills. Starting from your utility bills to your cable bill, medical bills, and many more can be negotiated. You can negotiate bills for the same service you are getting every month. Wait a few months and call the service provider again to try to get a better deal.

5. Get coupon benefits

Coupons can be useful for millions of consumers to save a lot of money. Taking the benefits of the coupons is the best way to save money on purchases and it doesn’t show you as a broken person. Using coupons wisely is a sign of a good money manager.

6. Check your credit report and score

Get your free credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus. Many credit card companies may provide you with your FICO score each month for free. You can also enroll yourself in free credit-monitoring services. It’s important to check your credit score periodically. Your credit score is one of the most important factors that’ll determine your financial success. Don’t forget to check your credit report and dispute errors if you find any.

7. Consolidate your debts

Debt is a bad habit that you must avoid. If you want to become a successful money manager,  you must get out of debt completely as soon as possible. Debt is something that won’t allow you to manage your money properly. When you don’t have debts, it’ll be easier for you to master your income and grow your savings.


If you’re tired of paying down your debts, you can consider the debt consolidation option. Instead of paying down multiple debts with high interest, you can even take out a loan and pay them off. Make sure the debt consolidation loan you are taking out carries a low-interest rate.

8. Eliminate wastage

Believe it or not – most people waste a great portion of their income. We like spending money on such things that are unnecessary and should be avoided. Sometimes we pay for services that we don’t require at all. We like spending money on luxuries, buying unwanted stuff, and paying interest on accounts that we use occasionally. All this waste of money makes us poorer. So, listen carefully, stop yourself wasting money, at once!

9. Set up autopay option for savings & bills

Setting up an autopay option for your finances may help you save money and time. It’s much easier to schedule a certain amount from your paycheck and transfer it to your savings account. Also, schedule all your bills so that they automatically deduct from your account every month before the due date.

10. Share your thoughts with your partner about money

If you’re in a serious relationship, you should share your thoughts about money with your partner.  It’s important to carry similar thinking about finances if both of you want to grow your finances in the coming year. If you really want to become a successful money manager, talk to your spouse, and tell her/him about your financial goals and your future plans. He/she should know and give an opinion about the financial planning you are doing for both of your future.


Most of the time financial infidelity becomes the sole reason behind a broken relationship. Financial chit chats might turn into intense arguments. However, the more you share your thoughts about money with your spouse, the easier it will get…..

11. Invest time to educate yourself

Are you a bad money manager? Do you want to become a successful money manager now? Most of us might say “yes”. But most of us also don’t know that we will not succeed until we overcome the main problem, and that is “financial illiteracy.”


So, what do we do now? We need to educate ourselves on various financial subjects like budgeting, wealth building, money-saving, managing debts, investment, real estate, etc. By using our spare time we can learn about those things easily.  Read books or read articles online. You can also attend seminars. You may even ask your parents about it and get suggestions from them. The more financially literate you become, the better you can manage your money.


So, if you follow these steps, there are chances that you’ll emerge as a successful money manager. You can also increase your income by doing a part-time job. You can use that money to pay off credit card debt, to save for retirement, or to create a fund for a mortgage down payment in 2019. You never know, your additional earnings may lead you towards becoming your own boss, and you become a successful entrepreneur till the end of 2019, best of luck with that!