Is the Internet saving you money? Not necessarily

By Richard Barrington

For the MoneyRates.com

Published: Monday, Dec. 2 2013 10:45 a.m. MST

You would think not having to get in the car, drive to the mall and find a parking space would be a tremendous time saver, but apparently not. According to the poll results, people who shop online expect to spend more time shopping than those who shop in person.

Online shoppers expect to spend an average of 5.84 hours buying holiday gifts this year, compared with 5.24 hours for in-person shoppers. Here again, people who split online and in-person shopping equally end up spending the most, at an average of 6.71 hours. This supports the idea that these hybrid shoppers are using online shopping in addition to, instead of as a substitute for, some of their in-person shopping.

Truth: Your savings will earn more online

Whether people save more money shopping in person or online, their savings will typically earn more at an online bank. In its latest America's Best Rates survey, MoneyRates.com found that savings accounts at online banks pay roughly three times the average interest rate of savings accounts at branch-based institutions.

Overall, consumers appear to get mixed results from online shopping. After all, retailers are not investing millions in their shopping sites in order to help you save money. Their motive is to get you to spend more. However, if you use the Internet as a tool for careful price comparisons and disciplined shopping, you can come out ahead. Regardless of the experience of some consumers, savvy shoppers can make Internet savings more truth than myth.

Richard Barrington, CFA, is the primary spokesperson and personal finance expert for MoneyRates. He is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry.