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This year at Becoming I did a session on everything you need to save online. It’s fun to step out of grocery mode and explain the ins and outs of online deals. We had such a good time, I thought I share the highlight points with you guys.
Hands down, saving money online means stacking sales, coupons and rewards together. Guess what this can be done at almost any store you shop at.
Earning Cash Back
First for the rewards, you need to make sure that you signed up to earn cash back on every purchase. This isn’t related to a special credit card, nor does it cost you anything. Head over to Ebates (who graciously sponsored this session at Becoming) and register for a free account. Now anytime you want to shop online, head to Ebates first. Search for the store you want to shop at on Ebates’ site and then go off shopping. In the end you’ll earn cashback on your entire purchase!! This can be anywhere from 3% to 50% back, the amount will vary based on the store.
The fun part… while you earn a percentage back, you can still use coupons and shop clearance deals! Ebates will have a number of coupons on their site you can use, but you can also look online for other coupons that are out there. Generally just Googling the store name and the words “coupon code” will bring up a number of sites that have current offers. When you are looking for coupon codes, it never hurts to find 2-3 different codes to try. Some may not work, and then other sites may allow you to use multiple codes (Victoria Secret, Crocs etc.)
Tip: If a site has customer service online chat, try chatting and asking for a discount code. It truly never hurts to ask!
Clearance & Sales
Always start your shopping in the sale section. This is a rule both online and in local stores. Generally online your coupon code will work on sale and regular priced items, so you might as well start on the sale deals.
No one likes to pay shipping. So… shopping on days when a site is offering free shipping on any order size is great. If you can’t find a free shipping offer, then consider whether you can wait for one. Sign up for the stores email alerts on sales so you will know the next time they run a great promotion.
Another way to get free shipping is to make sure you always have it with programs like Amazon Prime or Shop Runner. Both cost around $79 regularly, but there are promotions and ways to save here too. Did you know that you can share a Prime membership with up to 4 family members? Split the cost up and you can all enjoy the savings and shipping. For Shop Runner, you can also share your membership. Plus Shop Runner gives you free 2-day shipping at over 70 different sites.
On other tip: if “Pick Up in Local Store” is an option. Select it!! This is a great way to run by and grab your items the next time you are out and cut out shipping all together.
Rewards Credit/Debit Cards
You can take your rewards to a whole never level, earning Ebates cash back and then earning more rewards with a special credit or debit card. I’m not in any way promoting debt to save money here though. If you are prone to carry a balance then this extra reward will save you nothing. If you can pay off a balance each month then look into getting a card that rewards you with points or even cash back. I travel a lot teaching coupon workshops, so I decided getting a Marriott card was a good way to earn free hotel nights. Another favorite for folks is to get the Target Red Debit Card. It links directly to your checking account (so you can’t carry a balance) and you earn 5% off your entire Target purchases. Find a card or program that works for you.
Always Price Check
Many times a deal isn’t really what you think it is. Daily deal sites can be the worst at marking a product up only to make the savings look huge. It only takes a second to pull up Amazon.com or even Walmart.com and see what a comparable price is. You may find that your 60% savings is really only a savings of $1-$2 off the normal Amazon price…
Tip: Do this in local stores too! Download the Amazon Price Check app and then scan the bar code of any product and instantly see the price for the same item right now on Amazon. Target and Toys R Us stores will even price match this in their stores!! This basically means you get Amazon prime without having to pay for it.
Special Shopping Days Online
Did you know that there is a National Free Shipping Day? Yep! One day a year thousands of websites all offer free shipping. If you are late on Christmas shopping, then holding out for this day can save a chunk of money. This year, National Free Shipping Day is December 18th. Technically this day always falls on the last day to get regular shipping in time for Christmas. Orders placed after this date require faster shipping options to arrive on time. The fun part about this day… most stores know that this is their last chance for sales. You’ll find big sales to go with your free shipping (just don’t forget your Ebates cash back too).
The other big days of online shopping are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many folks think of Black Friday being local stores, but actually many of the same deals are available online! No waiting in lines all night, just stay home and shop in your pj’s. You’ll probably even find you can use a coupon code and get cash back (which you wouldn’t have in the store). Cyber Monday happens the Monday after Thanksgiving and tends to have even better deals than Black Friday!
Remember Your Budget
In the end, no matter how great of a deal you’ve found, please remember that even a $1 deal has a cost. If you don’t need it, or don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it! Budgets aren’t fun to make, but they do have a great purpose. When you have reached your budget then it’s time to stop.