Online Shopping

I buy around 95% of my Christmas gifts online.  I also have a bench absolutely crammed full with birthday gifts, baby shower gifts and even just for fun gifts that I have been able to stockpile on a fairly low budget.  How is it possible?  Read on.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Okay, you don’t have to plan that much.  I do keep a list on my computer of all the birthday gifts, possible shower gifts, anniversaries and holidays that I may need to buy for in the upcoming year.  I do this simply by sitting down with my calendar and copying over dates.  This way, if a spectacular deal comes available, I check my list to see if I could use the item or not.  I don’t care how great the deal is, if I’m not going to ever use it, why spend the money or waste my time?

Comparison Shopping

If you are in search of something specific, don’t buy the first thing you come across online.  Do some comparison shopping.  There are some awesome sites out there that will compare prices across multiple websites, doing the work for you.

I use Google Shopping quite a bit (directly off Google Homepage) and I also use Swagbucks.  Swagbucks is super easy!  Sign up for a free account here, download their search toolbar and search for your item.  You’ll earn Swagbucks when you search for certain items and you can cash in your “bucks” for rewards.  It’s that simple.  The rewards are pretty decent too.  For example, 450 Swagbucks will get you a $5 gift card!  Some other comparison shopping sites are PriceGrabber and Bing.

Coupon Codes

Now that you have found your target price, don’t reach for your credit card yet!  Never buy online without checking for a coupon code first, such as percentage off or free shipping.  When you are shopping around for prices, make sure to include shipping in your total cost, as it might seem lowest at a certain site, but when you tack on shipping, it might become the highest.

You can simply Google what site you are looking to shop at, such as “ coupon codes” and see what comes up.  Your other option is to check out actual coupon code sites like Retailmenot, Coupon Mountain, Coupon Cabin or  Never buy anything online without doing this first!

Cash Back Sites

You’re almost ready to purchase.  You found your target price, what website you want to buy from and some great coupon codes for 80% off and free overnight shipping (wouldn’t that be nice?).  Your last step is to check out through an online rebate site, such as Ebates, ShopatHome or Upromise.

Ebates and ShopatHome are both cash-back sites.  They’re super easy!  Set up a free account, type in what store or website you are searching for and it will show you coupon codes and a percentage back amount.  If you click to the site through Ebates or ShopatHome, you will get a percentage back from your purchase.  For example, both sites are offering 2% back on purchases made at Victoria’s Secret.  Doesn’t sound like much, but if you are making the purchase anyway, seems silly not to, right?  It takes a few days for the cash back to post to your account and it’s very easy to track.

Upromise is basically the same idea.  Click through to a website from their site after signing up for a free account and you will receive a percentage of your purchase back.  This will be automatically posted to your Upromise account and you can do one of three things with it: put it into a 529 account to grow tax free for college for you or your child, link your student loan and use it to pay that down or request a check to help with college expenses.

Happy shopping!

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