The shopping season is upon us! We celebrate a simple Christmas, but there are still some gifts to buy. Over the last few years, I have begun to do more and more of my shopping online. I love strolling through stores and seeing things in person, but have discovered recently that there are many benefits to online shopping:
- It saves time (not to mention gas for your car!)–no need to drive all over creation, just turn on your computer!
- Save money–with online shopping, it’s easier than ever to compare prices and get the best deals.
- Cash Back–there are many programs you can use to get cash back when you’re shopping online.
- More Selection–The internet offers options previously only dreamed about! That awesome regional store on the other side of the country? You can now shop there in your jammies.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a local shopper as much as possible. However, sometimes it’s just not practical, or even possible. We live in a tiny town. The only store here is a Dollar General. The nearest Walmart is about an hour away! Sometimes we really need to shop online, and I’m so glad that option is available to us.
However, before you shop online, here are some tips to be sure you’re getting the best value.
Shop Through a Rebate/Rewards Site
There are several of these out there, and they make it very easy to earn money on your purchases. Some of them also offer rewards on other tasks too, such as surveys, searching, and more.
Don’t make a purchase online without checking a rebate site first, you might be throwing money away! Here are a few that I have used:
Swagbucks–earn points that you can redeem for gift cards, Visa cards, paypal cash, and more. You can earn rebates from purchases at many popular online retailers. You can also earn points just for searching! Once you download their search bar, you can easily search (without going to their site first), and earn points. I have earned nearly $15 in gift cards just from searching alone–without spending a dime! Earn even more when you shop through them. For example, I just purchased some boots for my husband on sale from Cabela’s–$79.99, and I got 10 points per dollar spent, so I will get back an equivalent of $7.99, just for shopping through swagbucks.
Ebates–I have received cashback from Ebates on everything from vacations, hotel stays, flights, etc. I have earned shopping through walmart, ebay, and other popular online retailers. They make it super easy to get paid–they mail you a check or deposit into your paypal account. Get $10 free just for signing up! And, they are offering a special right now and you can earn $100 just for referring 3 friends! Easy peasy!
This goes without saying, but the online world makes it ridiculously easy to compare prices and get the best deal. About 6 years ago, I bought my husband a flat-screen TV as a gift. I ended up saving over $200 by comparison shopping, and we’re still using that same TV. I usually search the reward and rebate sites above first, and then compare prices from there.
I usually also check a few places without rebates, just to be sure I couldn’t get a better deal somewhere else (after taking into account the amount of the rebate I would get). Sometimes, I have found a better deal on a site that isn’t included on a rebate site. Others, the rebates get the best deal.
Yes, it takes a few moments of time, but it’s well worth it for the potential savings.
Try Amazon Prime
I’ve written about this before (Why I think Amazon Prime is worth it, and the secret prime perk you might not know about). However, it’s worth mentioning again, because Amazon offers a free trial of Amazon Prime.
The trial lasts 30 days, and if you cancel by the end, you’ll never be charged (tip: set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to cancel).When Amazon first started, their prices were higher than I could find at places like Walmart. However, now Amazon is very competitive. I have found great deals on things that I can’t get locally. And, with my secret prime perk, when I choose no-rush free shipping, I can get a little gift for myself as well–Score!
Bonus Tip: Follow Amazon Lightning Deals. Amazon is having lightning deals pretty much from now until Christmas. There are cyber deals all this week, and then 12 days of deals to come. It’s worth your while to keep a watch on these, especially the daily Deals of the Day, which are usually a great bargain, and a bit less time-restrictive since they last all day. For example, today’s deal is 50% off on Melissa & Doug toys.
One of the great perks of shopping online is that you can do some research before purchasing. If you’re considering making a purchase at a lesser known retailer, make sure to check them out. Before making a large purchase, read customer reviews (I like to read a couple of the highest, and a couple of the lowest in order to get a more balanced idea of what to expect).
Protect Your Information
Always be sure that you are shopping on a secure site, and be careful about when and how you give out your personal and payment information. Likewise, be sure to read the fine print for the possibility of recurring payments. Be sure you know what to expect.