Shopping online can be a convenient way to find what you want.
Sometimes, it’s a little too convenient. Sure, you don’t have to drive to a shopping mall, find a parking spot, walk to several different stores, make your purchases, find your car, and drive home again. You can hang out in your pajamas, happily clicking away, and before you know it you have a virtual shopping cart filled with more items than your budget can handle.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to save when shopping online.
Check for free shipping. Shipping can get pretty spendy, especially on larger items. Use Northern Cheapskate to check for free shipping codes that will get your wares delivered for free. If you don’t find a code there, a simple Google search using the name of the merchant and the words “free shipping code” will usually find you a few options worth trying.
Use e-mail and social media. Chances are the merchant you are visiting online has a Twitter or Facebook presence. Check to see if they’ve shared any special deals with their followers and fans. Stores like Lands End, JcPenney, and Kohls have been known to slide a few good deals toward their customers using social media. You should also sign up for your favorite merchants’ e-mail mailing lists. Set up a separate e-mail address just for this purpose, because you will get a lot of mail. Just don’t check that e-mail until you need to shop or you’ll see too many fabulous offers that will tempt into buying all kinds of things you don’t need.
Try shopping portals. There are many online shopping portals, such as Ebates, where you can earn cash back on your purchases or money for your favorite charity, or your child’s college education. A quick check at Evreward will tell you which cashback sites have the best deals at the stores you shop. Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns you money back on your purchases to really save. Just make sure to pay the balance in full when the bill arrives, or you haven’t saved any money.
Read up before you buy. There’s nothing worse than buying something only to find out later that you were the only person who didn’t know it was a piece of junk before you bought it. Read the product reviews, but remember to take them with a grain of salt. Angry people write more negative reviews, and marketing people love to pepper sites with glowing reviews. Look for balanced reviews that show both the positives and negatives of a product. Look for copies of Consumer Reports at your local library: it’s a great magazine that offers unbiased reviews on just about everything.
Learn the return policies. Will you have to pay return shipping, or can you return it to a brick and mortar store? Is there a restocking fee? Does the merchant have a toll free number you can call with questions or problems? The answers to these questions can make a huge difference in your shopping experience. It’s not a good deal if you’re not satisfied with the service.
Use wishlists. Many stores let you create saved wish lists for items you would like to buy. You can then sign up to receive e-mail alerts when the item goes on sale. Wish lists can help you save money because you can think more about the item before you make the purchase. You may just discover that you don’t even want (or need) the item on your wish list after all…. or better yet, someone else has purchased it for you!
The easiest way to save money when you shop online is to not shop online. But it’s good to know there are options out there, if you must buy.
What are some ways you save money when shopping online?Note: This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog at no additional cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy for more info.