Even if you’re thousands of dollars deep in student debt, you still need to buy things. After all, you can only use your collection notices as paper towels so many times. When you have to shop, just be smart about it. Check out these eight tips for saving money shopping online.
1. Rebate Sites
Rebate sites such as BeFrugal and Ebates partner with retailers to offer you anywhere from 1% to 15% cash back on purchases. Just start shopping from their portal, double check terms, then see the money arrive into your account a few days later. You can request a check once your account reaches a certain threshold, which will feel like a mini payday.
2. Shop For Points
Let your money do double duty by shopping for travel points. Most hotel and airline reward programs have associated online shopping portals (check out Southwest’s or Hilton’s as examples) that allow you to earn travel points for each dollar spent at online stores. You’ll buy what you need and reduce future travel expenses.
3. Coupon Search
Using coupons online isn’t just smart, it’s easy. Here’s how you do it: before you buy anything online do a quick Google search for a store coupon or promo code. Sites like RetailMeNot compile coupon codes that you can easily copy and paste at checkout.
4. Buy Used
The ratty clothes you lived in for college classes won’t cut it for long in the real world. If you need new attire, consider buying pre-owned items from sites like Tradesy and Poshmark. If the idea of wearing someone else’s leftovers weirds you out, some items are new with tags, while used items go for around 70% off retail—good motivation for going used. Bonus: you can sell items yourself for side income.
5. Get Refunded
There’s no punch in the wallet like buying something only to find it on super sale a few days later. CamelCamelCamel and Paribus are two companies that monitor your purchases on popular shopping sites, and take advantage of refund policies to get you cash back if a purchase price drops.
6. Just Ask
More and more sites are adding live chat functions to give customers immediate access to support reps. Take advantage and follow the old adage: it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you’re considering buying a product, use live chat to ask for a discount or free shipping.
7. Abandon Your Cart
Retailers know that a customer who is close to purchasing can usually be coaxed into hitting “confirm” with just a little extra incentive. Try putting items in your virtual shopping cart then leaving the site. Chances are you’ll get a follow-up email from the retailer within a few hours or days offering you an additional discount.
8. Set Up A Shopping Email
Signing up for your favorite retailers’ email programs is an excellent way to stay informed about coupons and sales. But all those marketing emails can clog your inbox and get easily lost. To save yourself time, headaches, and money, create an email account that you use solely for shopping. Have all retailer emails sent there, so you can easily search for deals when you’re prepared to purchase.
With these tips, you can get what you need, while putting a little extra money away toward your financial health.