If you do a lot of shopping online, you should be taking advantage of some of the deal searching and coupon sites available before going directly to any specific company site. If you are looking for a television, stereo, mattress or anything really, there are shopping sites that screen scrape the net and look for the best deals for the day and pass them along to you either as a direct link, or some kind of rebate offer paid to you at a later date.
Here are some of the best ways to save money when shopping online.
Use a Price Aggregator
One of the best ways to save money online is to use one of the many retail site deal aggregators which search the web for products and display a listing on where you can buy it and at what price. Even if you plan on buying it on a site like Amazon, you can still use one of these aggregators like Pricegrabber to see if you are really getting the best deal.
Some people like to order for a larger retailer however because of better returns policies, but at least you can see how much more (if anything) you are paying for that right of return without a stocking fee.
Be flexible and search at different time of the day or week. Typically retailers will list various items at various sale prices at different times of the week depending on how they are selling or how much inventory they need to move. Airlines employ this same tactic releasing most of the their new fares on Tuesday each week. If you are looking for the best deal on a product, try searching the listing for it at various times of the day, two or three times during a week to get an average price.
Be sure to take note of the shipping charges that each site displays. Do not be lured in by a lower price only to find out at checkout you have to pay 8% sales tax plus excessively high shipping. They are simply using shipping to compensate for their low sales price.
Also, if a site aggregator leads you to a small local or regional store online, be sure to check their ratings from other customers before you buy. I personally would rather pay a few dollars more for anything rather than buy from a retailer that has a few red flags in the reviews, most of which deal with no receiving the order or some return that went wrong.
Other sites like Dealcatcher, Gottadeal and DealNews provide daily deals for specific products from most major retailers. These sites are usually updated throughout the day.
As an added benefit, most of these sites get a jump on Black Friday ads, so you can download a scanned pdf copy of just about every retailer up to a month before that crazy day.
Another site called Slickdeals has daily deals but they differ from the others because the deals on the main page are driven by the user ratings who vote on the site. It also has one of the best forums of active users where hundreds of deals are posted daily by other users. Each deal has a thread about the product including other hacks to lower the price further and any issues they have with the product or company.
Use Ebates to Save Money
Look for Online Coupons and Promo Codes
Some sites offer promo codes for savings on other sites or simply provide a link to another site which acts as a referral, such as Ebates. They do not offer specific product sales, but they offer a rebate to hundreds of online sites for whatever you buy on that site after you link off. They get a referral commission and they pass part of it on to you. Whenever you want to buy something from any online site, all you have to do is go to the Ebates site first, and link off of it to wherever. Then whatever you buy generates a rebate and you will get a check in the mail or via Paypal if you prefer. You do have to register for the site to get the rebate of course.
FatWallet is another site that offers cashback deals, plus they have an active online forum with advice for saving money in all areas of retail and life.
Couponcabin offers online, printable and grocery coupons for more than 3,000 merchants. They say they test the coupons several times a week to ensure they work. They also seek out exclusive deals with retailers and stay connected with retail forums and blogs updating the site’s listing several times a day. Online coupons show when it expires and when it was tested last.
My personal experience with online coupons was not a positive one. Some scanners do not recognize the bar codes your home printer prints, so this may be an issue for you as well. The one I printed out did not work at the store and there was no code on it for the cashier to type it after the scanner would not read the bar code. However, this probably had to do with a printing error on my end. If you have a good printer with enough ink at the time of printing, these should work fine when you use them. I believe my issue was low ink.
However, no matter what site you are on, always look for promo codes on the site itself, or within advertisements they have mailed to you either via email or snail mail. Often times, if you do not have a promo code for a specific website, you can do a search with that sites name + promo code and you will get a list of some that may or may not work.
Great Deal on Small Laptop for Travel
Amazon Price: $199.99 $189.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 13, 2016)
If you aren’t aware of it yet, everyone tracks everything you do on the internet. If you are signed into Facebook and go and search for something on Amazon, an hour later you are likely to see an ad for that same item on the side of your Facebook page. Why is this a problem?
I wouldn’t say it is a problem necessarily. It can actually be useful because a site can gear its offering specifically toward what you have searched for before or similar products. However, they can also use that information to manipulate the price that they show you. Not always of course, but I wouldn’t put anything past them.
For instance, if they know you always such for a particular product and routinely buy it online, they might jack up the price a few cents if they know it is you coming in since they know from your history that you are likely to buy the product. Sounds shady right?
Well, it does happen. You can try using the private mode in your browser so that it will not recognize the cookie (essentially your identity) already on your computer. It makes for an interesting test if you ever want to try search for something logged in and incognito on another device at the same time.
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 13, 2016)
Consider Refurbished or Open Box
The first desktop computer I ever bought in 1998 was an open box Compaq with a whopping 233 AMD processor and 4 GB hard drive for $900 plus tax. What a deal!
Actually, it was considering the same thing in a box was about $400 more. I used that computer until 2002 when I upgraded again. No issues whatsoever and it still boots up. My point is, just because it is an open box doesn’t mean it is defective. Chances are it was simply a display model or someone bought it and returned it after a few days.
With refurbished products, the was probably an issue at some point that led to its return, but most reputable retailers send those back to the manufacturer to be certified as working properly, sort of like how used cars are “Certified Pre-owned” because they go through ha rigorous inspection and parts replacement process before they are put back on the lot.
Online Shopping Tips
Shopping online will likely save you money no matter what you do because you do not have to pay for the cost of a Best Buy or other store’s overhead costs. After all, it costs a lot to rent all of that area for large stores, plus heat and cool it, plus high enough people to cover the floor and stock it. So that is what you are paying for when you see difference in prices between retail and online products. Brick and mortar stores are trying to become more competitive on price, but they can only go so far before becoming a strictly online retailer themselves.
If you want to find the best price for anything online, or find ways to save money before you buy, using the tips provided in this article are guaranteed to help you save money.
In fact, they are so useful and effective that I have said before we are all going to online shop our way out of having any place to actually go shopping in the future because these stores simply cannot compete on price.
I still miss Circuit City and CompUSA. However, industries move, technologies change and brands fade away.
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 13, 2016)