Welcome to Ways to Save, a new weekly series where we will drill into different frugal living or money saving tips in more depth. This week we will look at how you can use shopping online as a way to save more for your family. If you have topics you would like to see addressed in a weekly Ways To Save edition please email those to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it in the comments section below.
It took awhile to convert me to an online shopping fan. I did not mind an online purchase here or there, but I like to touch, feel, examine, try on items before I purchase them. I am notoriously bad for not returning items that I purchased online if they do not work out (in fact I do not think I have ever returned anything I purchased online). However, all of the free money out there this past year, in the form of sign up credits, has converted me. I now LOVE to shop online. What I have found is that for me personally, the benefits outweigh the negatives.
- Ease - shopping from your own home, and at whatever time is most convenient for you. Taking my time to make a decision has been great. I can add an item to my basket, think about whether I really want or need it, and make a purchase later without having to run back to the store.
- Cost Savings – This is the biggest benefit right now, and its what sold me. There is tons of free money floating around these days. Companies are using promotions via social marketing networks as a way to promote themselves. This means that rather then paying for traditional marketing, in many cases they are offering up incentives through Facebook, twitter, blogs and more. This kind of promotion works for you, the shopper, in that:
- There are lots of free credits being given out (this is essentially free money that you can use on a companies website). If you have not joined any of the sites listed below, you could get over $100 today, just by signing up for free (now its not $100 on one site, but spread across different deal sites).
-Daily deal sites are popping up all over the place, and are negotiating deals on your behalf.
- Giveaways and free coupons for products are becoming very popular on Facebook, and we will likely start to see them used more on Twitter too.
- Can’t try things on items, or inspect them in detail before purchasing.
- Can get lost spending too much time online (so much info out there).
- There can be a cost in returning items.
- It requires patients (it can be up to two weeks or more from some of the deal sites before you receive your items)If you are buying vouchers for services you need to manage them well so you do not let them expire and lose money!
- Flexibility. This is both a pro and a con. (You may find more flexibility in when you want to make your purchases as I describe above or you may find more restriction. For example, Target.com just had a promotion where you could get a shirt and pair of jeans for just over $5. Those items sold out quickly, you would not have been able to wait until next pay day to purchase that deal.)
Tips for getting the most out of shopping online:
#1 Tip – Grab the FREE Money!
Often times free credits may be available for a limited amount of time, so grab them while they are free. I have included a list of some free credits available below.
The best part about this, is that some of these companies keep giving free money! I just received a $10 off $10 purchase from one earlier today, and a few earlier this week. The trick is that you have to be signed up with them, and then pay attention to their emails (especially if they say something like “We’ve Missed You”)!
#2 Tip - Organize your vouchers from daily deal sites, consider using a service like City Pockets (Free).
The more you shop daily deal sites, the more valuable you will find this service. It allows you to:
- store all of your vouchers on one site
- get notifications when they get close to expiring
- gift your vouchers (which is one way to deal with items close to expiration date that you will be unable to use)
- view many of the daily deals available from different vendors all in one spot (called their marketplace)
#3 Tip – Shop combined sales.
Often times the best deals I have gotten online is when I use multiple deals. Some examples I like to use:
- ‘Free Shipping’ promos may tip the scales as to whether I make a purchase or not. There are some sites like Modnique and Amazons Subscribe and Save option, that always provide free shipping.
- Sales from deal site vendors. Some of these daily deal sites offer special mark down events. These usually take place on Sundays, and you can get merchandise that was already marked down, for even less. Hautelook usually has a Sunday night Stylethon. I just purchased a top that was originally $90 for under $10 as part of that event. Rue La La is another vendor who will do this.
- Take advantage of promo codes, especially if you can stack them. Lately there have been alot of these available. Sometimes a vendor will allow you to use the discount towards shipping, and often you can use them on clearnance items. Kohls.com and Target.com (Target also offers Daily Deals with free shipping each day), and Childrens Place are great examples of these. You can often shop their clearance items, use a promo code and get free or low cost shipping. When you take advantage of all of these deals in one purchase, you will see significant savings. Best way to stay on top of these deals is to subscribe to their emails, or follow the blogs posting about them.
Free Money Resources & Some of My Favorite Deal Sites To Shop ~
Jetsetter.com - Free $25 credit towards travel - $25 is a big free credit. Jetsetter offers great deals on high end hotels around the world! Jetsetter has been known to offer $75 off promo codes too (I just got one from them a few weeks back). My family enjoyed a night at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland and a free cruise, and had to pay only taxes on this deal after the free credits that Jetsetter made available. Grab the $25 credit now and wait to see if another $75 credit comes around.
The Foundary – Can get up to $10 by inviting friends. You get $1 for each friend who submits their email address, up to $10, - no purchase necessary. The Foundary has many home type items. Items for the kitchen, outdoors, decoration, games, kids products, pet products etc. They have a reasonable flat fee rate and I have found their products to be of great quality.
Zozi – Free $10 when you sign up. Zozi offers deals through cities all over the country. They provide a variety of deals from events/entertainment to products and services.
Living Social – Free $5 One of my favorite deal sites. You can get city specific deals, depending on where you live. They also offer escape deals for hotel and vacation offers, food deals, events and more.
Tippr – Free $5 when you sign up. Similar to Living Social and Groupon. They offer many local entertainment and retailer deals.
Totsy – Free shipping for new members. They have been rocking the baby deals lately. You were recently able to get 3 piece baby outfits shipped to you for around $10 shipped to you! If you have little ones, you will want to pay attention to this site.
Eversave – Get $3 free when you sign up- Eversave is also offering a free $5 promo code through 10/27, so you can get $8 in free merchandise if you are a new member!
Mamapedia (Free $5). Mamapedia focus’s on kid and family friendly deals. When you make a purchase through them 5% of your purchase prices goes to a school of your choice.
Plum District – Free $5 when you sign up. This site has some family friendly and kid friendly deals, and they have been offering some great promo codes lately. The free $5 credit is good for purchases made within 7 days of signing up (and not valid toward steals) so you will want to wait until you know you want one of their deals.
No More Rack - Free $10 towards a $20 purchase. Once you have signed up enter code P1070 (Under My Profile select Redeem Gift Card to enter code). They offer deals that start at 12pm Eastern time each weekday. They offer around 6 items per day at steep discounts. You have to be able to log in around the time they go live with their daily deals to get best prices. Shipping is a flat free of $2 and they will add additional credits to your account on holidays often!
Gilt City offers 20% off your first purchase for new members. They offer higher end deals to local events, restaurants and stores.
Groupon – credits not currently available- probably the most famous deal site. Groupon now offers not only daily deals, but also what they call buy now deals. To use their Buy Now deals you put in your zip code and see what restaurants or services are offering deals for that day near you. You usually have a window of time that day that you can use that offer. Its a great way to get a deal on eating out if you want to head out that day.
Modnique – credits not currently available when you sign up for a new account with them. They also offer free shipping on all orders in the US, so this $5 will get you a great deal if you wait for the right item (recently you were able to get racer back tank tops for $2 after credit, as an example).
6pm.com - This online shoe retailer has some great shoe deals (sometimes as high as 90% off). Right now they are offering Free standard shipping on all orders (limited time), and you can score some crazy shoe deals and have them shipped for free!
What are your favorite sites to shop to score the best deals? Do you have more tips on how to maximize your savings while shopping online? Please share!