Christmas is coming and with that comes a flurry of shopping. As most of you know, I’m all about keeping it simple. I think we’re often guilty of over-materializing this holiday to the point that the true meaning can get buried underneath all the wrapping paper and bows. If you’re already starting to feel stressed about Christmas, take a deep breath, step back, and go read this post.
If, on the other hand, you’ve got your Christmas budget in place and your gift list made and you’re ready to begin shopping, here are a few ways to make your money go farther when shopping online:
1) Don’t pay for shipping. When I order online, I pretty much refuse to pay for shipping. It’s just not worth it to me to have to pay high shipping prices–even if the online deal is spectacular.
I’ve found, though, that if you’re willing to look around and be patient, you can almost buy just about anything online without paying for shipping. Many stores offer free shipping year-round on a minimum order or they offer free shipping codes at various times throughout the year. Check FreeShipping.org to find free shipping codes and offers available at thousands of stores online.
It’s best to shop when an online store is running a free shipping special which requires no extra code so then you can not only get free shipping, but you can also get a percentage off your order by using a coupon code (see point #2).
2) Use a coupon code. I learned this tip from my blog readers and I’m ashamed to say that up until a few years ago, I never even thought to look for a coupon code when I ordered something online. Now, my husband and I both have a policy to never purchase anything without first finding a coupon code to use.
I’ve tried a lot of different coupon code websites and I’ve also tried Googling for coupon codes, but nothing compares to RetailMeNot.com. They are the best coupon code website in existence so far. All you have to do is go to their homepage, search for the store you’re planning to shop from, and ta-da! you have a long list of coupon codes which have been rated by their large community of users.
It is very rare that I’m not able to find at least one coupon code from the long list which works for me. And for possibly 1-2 minutes of effort, that coupon code will usually save me at least 10% off my order–sometimes even as much as 25%!
3) Shop through a cashback site. This is a no-brainer, but this is also something I only learned about in the last few years.
Cashback sites work with online stores to offer you a percentage–usually somewhere between 3-6% of your total purchase–back as a rebate. While 3-6% might not seem like much, it can really add up over time. And if you’re already going to be making the online purchase, you might as well get a little kickback, too, right? After all, it’s essentially “free” money. And none of us are opposed to that, are we?
There are three different cashback sites available that I personally have experience with. Each one offers a little different rebate structure and their specials and percentages back change all the time:
Ebates–One of the oldest cashback sites, Ebates has an easy-to-navigate website and, in my personal view, the best cashback program. You only have to earn $5.01 in rebates in order to get a check or Paypal payment. You get a $5 bonus upon sign-up, so with just one purchase, you can reach payout.
However, payments are only sent every three months, so you have to wait awhile to get your rebate. Go here to sign up.
Mr. Rebates–A smaller cashback site, Mr. Rebates still offers a pretty good payout: you get a $5 bonus when you sign up and you can choose to request a check or Paypal payment as soon as you’ve received $10 in rebates. Go here to sign up.
When you are ready to make an online purchase, go check with both of these sites to see which one is currently giving the highest percentage of cashback and then shop through that one. To ensure your cashback is credited to your account, make sure to search for the store on the cashback site you’re using and then click through the store link. This should guarantee that you are credited for your purchases.
By combining free shipping, an online coupon code, and a cashback rebate on all of your online shopping purchases, you will make your money go a lot farther this Christmas–and you’ll likely have a much easier time sticking with your budget. In turn, this will make Christmas much less stressful and more enjoyable this year!
Do you prefer to shop online or in-store? What are your best techniques for saving money when shopping online?
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