Cyber Monday (and the prior weekend) continue to be one of the largest shopping times for retailers and consumers alike. You can score amazing deals without having to stand in crazy lines, sleep on sidewalks, or fight the crowds to grab that limited-edition Frozen collectable. There is one disadvantage to the excitement of online shopping, though: it can cause you to spend more money than you originally planned with steep shipping costs and the plethora of online retailers to browse.
Most of us are on our computers or connected to the Internet through a mobile device all day long, making it easy to “window-shop.” These three tips will help you stretch your holiday budget further and make saving money easier during this time of year.
1. Shop with a List and Compare Before You Buy
Similar to how you would shop with a grocery list, write out a list of the items that you are looking to purchase beforehand. This will help you control your spending and avoid the temptation of adding items to your cart that you do not need.
You can make comparing prices online easier by using a downloadable comparison tool like PriceBlink.com. It will compare prices for you from all the major sites in seconds. It keeps you from having to pull up several different sites, searching for the best deal. An added bonus is that you don’t have to leave the web page you’re currently on in order to see the prices on other sites.
2. Take Advantage of Coupons and Cash Back
Before you even start your online shopping, search for coupon codes and for any available cash back that you can earn. One of the best places to locate coupon codes is on RetailMeNot.com. Sites like Ebates.com and ShopatHome.com give cash back as well as coupon codes. All you have to do is shop through their site and you will earn a certain percentage back on your purchases.
3. Refer and Refer Again
Many sites now offer a referral program for sending your friends. Use this program to your advantage! I like to save up my referral credits to make purchasing gifts and stretching my budget easier. For example, I purchased our family’s custom-made Christmas cards this year for only $8.04 by using a coupon code from RetailMeNot.com and using my saved up referral credits. If I had only used the coupon code (for 30% off) and did not take advantage of my referral credits, my total would have been $68.04. That is a significant amount of savings!
It doesn’t matter how much you saved shopping online if you do not stick to your budget. While you are shopping, make sure you keep in mind your budget, print it out, and keep it next to your computer to serve as a visual reminder of how much you can spend.
What are ways that you have been able to remain in control of your money while shopping during the excitement of the holiday season?
Jessi Fearon is a wife, mom of two little boys, and writer behind The Budget Mama, a personal finance site where she shares her family's real life on a budget. She is devoted to helping her readers thrive on a budget while becoming better money managers.