It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you are looking to save money on anything you need to buy, you’re better off buying whatever it is online. I am a big supporter of buying local when I can, but sometimes the extra cost is just too much to take, especially on some big-ticket items. For example, I recently bought tires online to save a ton of money, but I did have them installed by a small local independent shop rather than my nearest Costco or Sears. I think it is important to find a healthy balance between saving money and supporting your local economy, so I try my best. Online shopping, though, is where you can find major savings, especially if you do a little homework before hitting the “BUY” button.
My biggest tip for saving money when shopping online is to think before you buy. The internet makes it just so easy to click that Buy Now button without giving too much thought to your actions, and sometimes that behavior can put you in the poorhouse. So before you buy something, put it in a wish list or in a spreadsheet for a day or three and revisit it then. When I am browsing Amazon.com, I put products I am somewhat interested in purchasing into my wish list where they often sit for weeks or months. Doing this has saved me from buying completely unnecessary items!
If after you have taken some time to contemplate your purchase you decide you do in-fact need it, well, be sure to go hunting for coupons or discount codes. While not every online store (Amazon, for example) accepts coupons from outside vendors, some stores do and even encourage you to use some. I used a coupon I found when I bought my big-screen TV from Dell.com, saving me about $100. There are hundreds (thousands?) of coupon sites found everywhere online, but some of the more popular ones include Coupon Monster, Cool Savings, and Deal Hunting. Offering codes for things like money off a purchase or free shipping, it’s vital you check around before finalizing your purchase.
For those of you interested in getting back rewards points or rebates for shopping online, you may want to check out sites like Ebates.com or FatWallet. Offering cash back on purchases or points you can redeem for other products, these kind of websites can be a helpful tool when looking to save during your online shopping. The sites make their money by getting paid commissions by online stores to send shoppers their way, and you get back a cut of that commission in return.
Don’t forget to check all the major sites for the same item you were looking at on your favorite shopping site. Overstock.com, eBay, and Half.com offer overstock and/or used products at a significant discount which can save you a ton. Why buy something like a book brand new if you can get it for 80% less just because it’s slightly used?
And lastly, if you are out somewhere and come across an item you think you may want to purchase, it can pay to have an app on your smart phone which enables you to do some comparison shopping. I use both the Red Laser app and the Amazon scanner to scan barcodes and check out prices online.
What’s your favorite way to save money while online shopping?
(photo credit: shlomif2)