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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spending Smart: Online Shopping

With Christmas fast approaching I know that many of you will be doing online shopping. I personally shop online all throughout the year and use the tips, not only at the holiday season, but whenever I'm shopping!


Tip 1: Use a Rewards Card! As you know our family uses many of Dave Ramsey's strategies for spending smart...however, one "rule" we break is having a credit card. I do NOT recommend this tip unless you are confident in your ability to resist over-spending on the card. However, for us, we put ALL of our purchases on one credit card, pay it off in full each month, and enjoy the benefits of the rewards plan it offers. Our card is a Citi Card and I LOVE the thank you rewards! We get points for every dollar we spend and are able to redeem them for airfare, hotels, gift certificates, etc.

Pre-Dave Ramsey I was also the QUEEN of store credit cards. Since it's actually not good to cancel cards I've just kept them all and enjoy the benefits of them. With having store cards I get tons of coupons which is great. I also will use the cards only at the stores they represent where I usually get additional discounts. Again, not recommending this strategy unless you already have the store cards! Children's Place, for example, gives me an additional 5% off all my purchases with the card, even combined with coupons. Gap and Pottery Barn are my favorite store cards. Gap earns rewards points for each dollar spent and they mail out awesome "Gap Cash" where you can use it in addition to other coupons and with no minimum purchase amounts. I do a lot of shopping at Gap family of stores so this is a great benefit! They also will send me notices in the mail for times where they will give massive amounts of points for buying gas or groceries on their card. Since it's a Visa card I will just buy one tank of gas on it and get me a free $20 to use at Gap ;) The Pottery Barn one does a similar rewards as Gap and when I bought my kids furniture from them with the card (again, paying it in full) I earned enough rewards to get their bedding for FREE!

Check out all the cards you have. Look into their rewards and be sure to take advantage of what they offer! As long as you have the money in savings to pay for the purchase, and pay it off in full each month, then you are able to get FREE stuff from them ;) Many of the cards include free shipping too which is great for online shopping!

I just recently took advantage of the Target Red Card. Did you know you can do it as a debit card? I totally didn't know it! But by having their card you save 5% of ALL purchases AND get free shipping online (which their shipping is ALWAYS so high to me so this is a big savings).

Some places also offer FREE rewards cards that are NOT a credit card. ToysRUs has a wonderful reward program and at the holiday season you earn back a percentage of what you spent back in coupons!!! I know many, many other places do as well. Take advantage of these opportunities! For example, Hallmark has a great free program. I always buy my cards from Hallmark. I buy the 99 cent cards but when you buy three cards you earn 100 points in their reward program. And when you get a certain amount of points they mail you certificates that can be used like cash in their store. I probably earn more free money to spend in the store than I actually spend in the store out of my own pocket haha I also get fabulous coupons from them and use them all the time on gifts and such in their store!

Tip 2: Shop through a Rewards Site. With our citi card we have a thank you site we shop through. I can shop from the stores listed on the site and earn extra points per dollar. Whenever we have to book a hotel I shop through the thank you site to hotels.com and I pay with my citi card for the room. I not only get a great deal on a room (and hotels.com has their own reward program where I earn FREE hotel nights just for using their site) but I also get the regular 1 point per dollar from using my card, AND get an extra 3 points per dollar for shopping through the thank you site! That's a lot of freebies for booking a room I'd have to book anyway!!!

Not all stores are listed on my rewards site for our credit card so I also use other rewards programs online for shopping. If the store I want isn't on my thank you site then I try mypoints or upromise. Both are free to join and both allow you to earn points/money by shopping through their sites.

Mypoints is a points based program and you can also opt to receive their bonus mail emails which will earn you additional points...however I just earn mine through shopping on the site. Then the points can be redeemed for gift cards and such.

Upromise is a cash back rewards program aimed as a college savings. You can also put your credit cards on the site and earn money whenever you use your card at certain places. Publix also does the Upromise program and you can get a rewards card to use when shopping there. It's not a LOT of cash you earn, but every little bit helps. And the best thing is...you don't have to use the money for college ;) I redeemed mine back when Zach and I bought our first house. It was nice to have access to some extra cash that didn't cost us a dime to earn!

Tip 3: Site Deals. I love the Gap family of brands because they almost ALWAYS have daily discount code going on! So do several other sites and be sure to always look for it when shopping. Also be sure to shop the discount sections of the site. I never, ever buy things full price. My goal is to always find it on sale AND be able to use a coupon. If I can't do both, then I don't consider it a good deal haha.

When shopping clearance though be mindful about it. Sometimes they trick you and the clearance stuff can't be discounted any lower with a coupon. Sometimes it's actually smarter to buy something at regular price because you can get it cheaper than the clearance item once you apply the coupon code!

Also places will typically offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount at their site. If you don't have a free shipping coupon code, then do the math on what you plan on buying vs. buying enough to earn the free shipping. For example if you have $38 of stuff in your shopping cart and shipping cost will be $8 but if you spend $50 you'd get free shipping then it may make sense to add $12 worth of stuff to your cart in order to save the $8 in shipping. It's like you're getting $12 worth of merchandise for only $4 ;)

Tip 4: Coupons. I don't clip coupons for groceries...yet I am HARDCORE about coupons when it comes to retail purchases. You can ALWAYS find a coupon. And most sites allow you to stack them. Meaning you can use multiple coupon code for a single transaction.

I am leery of a lot of coupon sites because I know some have been linked to viruses and such. The one I trust the most is RetailMeNot. Typically if you do a google search for a store coupons (like search "old navy coupon code") RetailMeNot will be one of the top results on the page. Most often they have all the recent codes available for sites! I typically find that if RetailMeNot doesn't have a coupon code listed for a site then no one else will have one either!

Tip 5: Bargain Hunt. I love Zulily. I can find GREAT stuff there for much cheaper than other places. I recommend checking it often but their shipping prices totally stink so I only order if I have a good bit of things I can buy at once to justify the shipping cost. And since they give you free shipping for 24 hours I always check back to see their newly listed stuff during that time period!

My favorite, most used, site for shopping is Amazon. I joined Amazon Prime and it's SO WORTH IT. (You can also split the cost with 3 family members and all share the same Prime membership). I get free two day shipping on so, so many items and often Amazon will be the cheapest price around! Anytime I'm making a purchase I ALWAYS price compare to Amazon before buying! Since it's rare to get coupons from Amazon, sometimes it's cheaper to buy the item from the retail sites due to coupons and discounts and such though so always price compare!

I also am a fan of Google. I will do a google search for any item I'm buying to price compare and make sure it's not offered cheaper somewhere else. One of the big gifts Kye wants this year for Christmas I found $20 cheaper by Googling it. A random site came up with it as the lowest price, and they had free shipping, AND I could shop through my thank you site and earned four extra points per dollar :) Great deal!

Tip 6: Share! Several sites ofter rewards/store credits for referrals. Got a deal you love? Share the deal with your friends! It benefits your friends b/c they can take advantage of the awesome deal...and it benefits you because you're able to earn credit for the referral! I share Zulily quite often and have earned well over $50 in free stuff just by sharing! I have also bought several things from sites and deals people have posted on Facebook. If my friends trust it, then I do too!

Tip 7: Bargain Buy. I don't give my kids toys and such throughout the year but I am ALWAYS looking for a good deal on things. If I see something that I know is a GREAT price, I will go ahead and get it. I keep a stash of gifts for my kids in our attic (and an excel spreadsheet with all the items listed so I don't forget what I bought!) and I also keep a "gift box" up there too. It's filled with toys that I find on super sale throughout the year and I know will make great gifts for birthday parties or other times a random present is handy ;)

I also bargain buy when it comes to my kids clothing. If there is a great price on something, I'll buy it in multiple sizes. For example Britt has a bathing suit I got from Old Navy and paid $1 for it so she has it in three different sizes. I always shop off season and I always buy sizes in the future (post to come about shopping specifically for kids clothes, but it will be referencing back to this post as well as I use all these tips too!). When shopping online for clothes I am sure to look for both of my kids and always check the clearance even if there isn't anything specific I need!

Tip 8: WAIT. If there is something you want but it's not on sale. Or there isn't a coupon for it. Or you can't find it cheap enough to fit your budget. Then WAIT. Pretty much everything goes on sale. Even if it doesn't go on sale you may find something else that will work for your needs that is a good price. Or you may realize you don't "need" the item after-all. Or you may be able to find a way to still get it for less. For example, we decided to get an Elf on the Shelf. Those things are $29.99 everywhere. Never on sale. However, Pottery Barn was selling them and I had the rewards coupon from their credit card AND I had gotten a coupon in the mail because I'm a card holder with them. So I basically got the Elf on the Shelf for free :)

I knew I wanted to get Britt a Snow White dress for her to wear to our big Disney trip next year and I knew they would go on sale after Halloween. Sure enough, I found a $40 dress for only $8 and got free shipping! Can't beat that! Waiting is ALWAYS worth it!

With the holidays I made a list of the items I wanted to get for my kids and then I waited and shopped around. I didn't buy them a SINGLE gift for Christmas (or their birthdays) unless I got it on sale/with a coupon. I knew I wanted to get Britt a Bitty Baby from American Girl so I joined their email list and checked RetailMeNot often until a coupon came up for it and I was able to get it $10 cheaper than retail and able to get free shipping. I do this with ALL of my kids stuff! And gifts for others as well! Being patient always pays off!

I like to start my shopping early for Christmas but I've learned through the years that it makes sense to wait for some of the popular kid items. I have a list of items I haven't been able to find coupons for or that haven't gone on sale and I'm hoping they get discounted for Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals! (Which, btw, if you are an online shopper I've found Cyber Monday is NOT worth waiting for. The best deals tend to be Black Friday. I shopped online the night of Thanksgiving last year and finished out my list!).

*Bonus Tip: KEEP TRACK of your rewards and coupons!!! Often they EXPIRE!!! Be sure to use them before they do or else you're wasting the free deals you worked hard to earn ;)

Do you have any tips for getting GREAT deals online??? I'd love to hear your tricks!!! Today is also Tips and Tricks Day with Babywise Friendly Blog Network. The topic today is Christmas so be sure to check out our Pinterest Board for many Christmas ideas! 

As an added bonus we're doing a giveaway:

 We’re giving away two copies of the eBook Charlie and Noel, An Advent Calendar Story! This is a story about a young boy awakening to the real meaning of Christmas. The eBook contains the story along with discussion questions for the family to talk about after reading each chapter of the story. It also includes links to activates you can do with your family! 

The giveaway will go from today (Tuesday) until midnight on Saturday night, November 30th. Enter to win by visiting this post! If you don’t win, you can purchase Charlie and Noel, An Advent Calendar Story by clicking here.

3 comments:

  1. I wrote out a long response that I lost

    Target - online coupons
    - cartwheel by target app (can be used with manufacturer and target coupons
    - shop kick app earns your points when you walk into Target to earn gift cards
    -target app has coupons

    Staples rewards- coupons and earns you $2 per recycled ink cartridge which you can use to help buy school supplies

    Ebates

    Online frugal sites on FB will share great deals & lots of freebies

    Zinio is an app that through your local library's website you might get magazines for free...not shopping but a money saver

    Christi... Ps signing in as a guest because disqus is not working on my phone

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is a very smartly written post about online shopping tips. Also the information you add in this post looks very informative. Thank you so much for sharing such nice post.

    online gifts india

    ReplyDelete
  3. I couldn't agree more on Amazon Prime, I've just signed up but I'm really happy with it, I think it's totally worth its price. I must say that I buy almost everything on Amazon, this is also the main reason I've been looking for a way to manage better my purchases and I recently found out about a new web app, a sort of Amazon tool called Unioncy (www.unioncy.com). Basically, it's a platform focused on keeping product related papers (receipts, manuals, certificates, warranties, serials etc.) as they automatically turn uploaded/forwarded receipts into an index of useful 'product cards' with all information in one place in the cloud. It's working pretty fine so far, I think you should give it a go =)

    ReplyDelete

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