10 Minute Read
Online shopping from the comfort of your own couch is the best! Gone are the days where you have to wait in long lines and fight over the latest toy or gadget (thankfully). Now, with just a couple of clicks, you can find some of the best deals online.
Scoring a bargain is awesome, but it can be dangerous for your budget if you aren’t careful. More on that later, but first let’s walk through how you can get more bang for your buck with these 15 super simple shopping tips.
1. Use a Coupon Code
Make it a policy to never purchase anything online without first finding a coupon code to use. They’re out there! Do a simple Google search, download some coupon apps, or try websites that gather coupon information like RetailMeNot or Coupons.com. Search for a store and boom! You have a long list of coupon codes and discounts rated by other users.
With only a few minutes of effort, you can find some of the best deals online that could save at least 10–25% off your order. Your small effort can result in big savings!
2. Let Someone Else Bargain Hunt for You
This one is easy—install an app like Honey onto your web browser. Honey will search through the best coupons available for the website you’re shopping on. It’ll even apply it to your cart at checkout with no hassle for you. Once you add this to your browser, you can set it and forget it. Any time you shop on a website, Honey will do the coupon searching and price comparisons for you. Yeah, it’s basically like magic.
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Of course, if you’d rather scour the internet yourself, there are plenty of sites out there that comb through the best deals online. Check out DealNews, Offers.com, Slickdeals and MoneySavingMom—they’ll help you save. It may take some digging around, but you’re bound to score deals you might not find elsewhere.
A word to the wise here: Be careful to make sure the security information on the site shows you’re shopping on a secure URL (https) so you’re not giving away any personal information.
3. Shop on the Right Day
Keep an eye out for sales that drop on certain days of the week. Many stores roll out special discounts and deals on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And if you’re looking for a deal so you can fly the friendly skies, Sunday is typically the best day for purchasing airline tickets.
If you love the thrill of hunting down a good deal just a few times a year, be sure to mark your calendar for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday and even Amazon Prime Day. These online shopping days happen once a year. Sometimes they can be overhyped, but if they’re offering the items you’re looking for, you can walk away with a great deal. Just don’t get suckered into buying things you didn’t budget for.
4. Find Free Shipping
With all the online promos these days, it’s not worth it to pay high shipping prices—even if the online deal is spectacular (you’ll usually lose what you saved when you factor in the shipping cost—yikes).
If you’re willing to look around and be patient, you can buy just about anything online without paying for shipping. Many stores offer free shipping year-round on a minimum order amount, or they offer free shipping codes at random times throughout the year. Check out FreeShipping.org to find free shipping codes and offers available at thousands of stores.
5. Outsmart Dynamic Pricing
Okay, what the heck is dynamic pricing anyway? It’s when retailers hike up the prices on online items based on your zip code, search history and whether you’re shopping on a mobile device or laptop. It stinks!
If you want to keep that kind of price gouging at bay, here’s what you need to do before you make an online purchase: Clear your browsing history and cookies, sign out of your social media sites, and switch to private browsing (sometimes it’s called incognito mode). Try this next time you’re looking for the best deals online and see if it saves you a little bit of cash!
6. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
If you know you’re going to spend money at a specific store, buying discounted gift cards can be a huge money saver. Sites like Raise and CardCash let users sell their unwanted gift cards at a reduced rate. If buying gift cards from random people online weirds you out, buy them at Costco instead! That’s right, even Costco is getting in on the action by selling discounted gift cards to restaurants, retail stores and spas.
So let’s say you already know you’re going to do all your back-to-school shopping at Old Navy or your Christmas shopping at Target. Why not buy a discounted gift card to the store? It could save you 10–15%!
7. Use Apps for Extra Savings
Popular online shopping sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and PriceGrabber all have apps that compare prices and offer exclusive, limited-time deals. They include a wide range of offers like discounted pedicures at a local spa, household décor items and everything in between!
While you’re at it, look into cash-back apps like Ibotta and Rakuten that partner with online stores to offer a percentage of your total purchase back as a rebate. While it might not seem like much, it can really add up over time. If you’re already planning to make an online purchase, why not get a little money back too?
8. Try Price Matching
It’s true—stores like Kohl’s, Target and Walmart all participate in price matching with their competitors. Let’s say you’re standing in the kitchen aisle at Target about to buy a sparkling new set of cookware. Sure, you’re in Target, but what if that set of pots and pans is cheaper at Walmart across town? A quick search on your phone tells you yes, it is cheaper! Just let the folks at Target know, show them the proof, and they should be able to match the lower price. Give it a shot sometime!
And speaking of Walmart—their app offers a Savings Catcher that’s pretty much a price-matching tool. You scan your receipt, Walmart compares prices, and then they’ll refund you the difference in a digital gift card if an item is advertised cheaper at a competitor’s store. Not too shabby!
9. Leave Items in Your Cart
Just because you’ve put the item into your cart doesn’t mean you have to buy it right then and there. If you abandon your shopping cart, many sites will send a savings offer in a follow-up email if you just sit back and wait. This is a great way to score a 10–20% off coupon code with little effort. Instead of acting right away, just be patient! Bonus: You’ve just avoided an impulse buy!
10. Talk to the Chat Box
Did you know those live chat boxes that pop up while you’re doing your online shopping can be the ticket to scoring some extra savings? Ask if there are any special sales or promo codes they can share with you. It’s that easy!
And if you just missed a sale or your coupon code expired, ask if they can still honor it for you. Some smart companies will give you the discount because they want to keep you as a customer. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
11. Get Social
It pays to follow your favorite stores and brands on social media. Many brands will announce special flash sales for their social media followers, and some even offer free shipping codes. If you really love a certain shop or brand, follow them on social media and take advantage of being in the loop.
But tread carefully here. Sometimes, following your favorites on social media can tempt you with major impulse buys, so look out!
12. Track Price Drops and Sales
Did you know there are apps that track price drops for you? Both Lyst and Droplist (a feature of Honey) are like glorified save-for-later lists. Better yet? They’ll alert you as soon as the price drops on an item you’ve got your eye on. You can even shop by the type of thing you’re looking for or shop by brand.
Are you an avid Amazon shopper? Let CamelCamelCamel track prices for you. Or you can always add something like PriceBlink to your desktop computer. When you’re shopping online, PriceBlink will show you how much the item you want costs at several stores. That way you can compare prices with little effort.
13. Buy Online and Pick Up in Store
How do you avoid paying those outrageous shipping costs (and still score the online-only discount)? Simple. Have it shipped to the store. You might even be able to pick up the item the same day you order it—talk about convenient.
14. Get the Refund
Let’s be honest: Price matching is a beautiful thing. And getting a refund of the difference? Even better! But it can be a pain to jump through those hoops. First of all, you have to notice that the item’s price went down. And then you actually have to go to the store in person to claim the match—lame.
So, why not let robots be the middleman? Earny will go through the receipts in your email and track what you purchased. If the price drops, they’ll take care of filing the price adjustment for you and you get to keep the savings! How great is that? But keep in mind—because it’s attached to your email, Earny only works for online purchases.
If you feel a little uneasy about giving out access to your email, we totally get it. Just do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
15. Negotiate the Price
Wait, how do you negotiate prices on the internet when there’s no human on the other end? Allow us to introduce you to PriceWaiter—the online shopper’s personal haggling machine that works with well known online retailers. Install this plug-in to your browser and shop around like normal. PriceWaiter will pop up and give you the option to make an offer on the item.
Keep in mind that while this is a great tool, it can be pretty selective about what items and brands it works with. And it’s worth noting the plug-in itself is a little slow—but your patience might just pay off. Type in what you want to pay, and then sit back and wait. Usually you’ll know if your offer was declined, accepted or countered within 24 hours.
The Best Deals Online Need a Budget Too
You can score the best deals online until the cows come home, but if you aren’t intentional about budgeting that extra savings—what’s the point? Make sure you use our free budgeting tool, EveryDollar, to put all your savings to good use (and budget for the purchases you’re making).
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