Shopping online is a gift to the world. It's useful for when you don't have the time, transportation, or desire to leave the house in order to make a shopping trip. From groceries to cosmetics to clothing, you can buy anything online these days.
I've done my fair share of online shopping. I've even picked up a few things along the way. Keep these tips in mind the next time you shop on line:
Never pay full price for anything.
No, really. There is always a sale to catch or a hefty coupon code to find if you know where to look. Don't pay full price unless you're desperate and don't have any other option.
Do your research.
Do your research.
Online product prices can be marked up considerably from their in-store counterparts. It is possible to get a better deal by actually purchasing your items in-store.
Sign up for the newsletter.
Many websites offer a discount code on your first purchase for signing up for their newsletter, and staying subscribed to it will let you know when sales happen. If you don't want your inbox cluttered with promotional emails, set up another account strictly for this purpose. You can check on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for promotions (or whenever you're looking for something specific).
Take advantage of membership programs.
Many companies offer the ability to accumulate points for making certain purchases, which can mean free things later or a percentage off of your purpose. Some companies also offer certain gifts the month of your birthday!
Consider the credit card.
Some stores offer great savings for opening a credit card with them: a certain amount off every purchase, reward points, and special promotions. If you do most of your shopping at Target, for example, you can get an additional 5% off with their credit card. Just be smart when it comes to using a credit card and buy only what you can afford to pay off. You'll be a lot happier with less debt. In fact, Jen wrote a great post on 5 ways to make your credit card work for you over at her blog Save to Splurge. It's a helpful and informative read!
Coupon codes are your best friend.
You can often find them in site newsletters or on coupon websites. Ebates has a great, reliable list of current coupons to use when you search by site. Otherwise, places like Retail Me Not and Coupon Cabin might have coupons, but you'll have to sift through ones to see if they still work or not.
...but there are easier ways to find them.
Use Honey, a browser extension that automatically searches for top coupon codes from the website you're already on, right from your shopping cart. It will save you lots of time at checkout.
Don't pay full price on Amazon.
Getting and stacking gift cards are great ways to spend less on Amazon. Consider replacing your search engine with Swagbucks, and for every few web searches you win a few "swagbucks," or points. You can use these to purchase rewards. The best deal on the website is the $5 Amazon gift card, which you can buy and apply to your Amazon account for future purchases. (And it's definitely not a scam - I've been using Swagbucks in this way for the past four years and have earned over $135 in Amazon gift cards, which has helped to pay for my college textbooks.) If you're not into shopping on Amazon, they also have other gift card rewards that you can redeem your points for.
Make your purchases work for you.
There are several sites out there that will give you cash back on your purchases, the most notable being Ebates. You can currently get 15% cash back on your purchases through Ebates at Ulta, Baublebar, Lancome, Drugstore.com, and a bunch of other websites, and various other values of cash back at other websites. They also choose one site every day and double cash back on it. I've been using this site for over a year and have received around $60 back in checks, so it's definitely legitimate.
pro tip: If you're on Swagbucks, you can shop through them and get a certain number of points per dollar spent. Thi can sometimes bes more generous than Ebates, depending on the store. For example, you can get 4% cash back at The Body Shop through Ebates, but you can get 4 points per dollar spent through Swagbucks. Of course, it all depends on if you'd rather be rewarded with a check or with an Amazon gift card.
Embrace the flash sale.
Flash sale websites can offer the product you would normally purchase at a great discount. For example, when I had my eye on TheBalm's Frat Boy blush (my favorite blush), I couldn't justify paying full price. However, when I found it on Hautelook for 50% off, I jumped at the chance and bought it. Sites like Hautelook are often members-only, but registering is a breeze and is definitely worthwhile.
All this talk about online shopping makes me want to do some of my own! Do you have any online shopping secrets to share?
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