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14 Easy Ways to use the Internet to get the best Shopping Deals!

March 7th, 2008

Now that most people are relatively comfortable shopping online, the Internet has become a bargain hunter’s dream. With just a few keystrokes you can compare prices, order a product, and have it arrive in a mere one to two days. Sounds easy, right? By spending just a little bit more time utilizing the following tips, you can save even more than you ever imagined.

The following tips are in no particular order, and not every tip is suitable for all products, so please use your best judgment when shopping online.

    Google Dollar
  1. Search engines are a bargain hunter’s best friend. Many of the popular merchants you shop with probably offer a coupon discount. Generally, a coupon discount is a string of letters and/or numbers you enter into that little text box titled “Coupon code:” or “Promo Code:” at the bottom of every checkout page. Well, even if you don’t have a coupon code, finding one is easy. Just go to your favorite search engine (I prefer Google) and type in the “Merchant Name” + “Coupon” or “Merchant Name” + “Promo Code.” The search results should contain various coupon sites with the coupon or promo code you are looking for. I’ve found coupons good for up to 40% off computers, free shipping, and even buy 1 get 1 free offers.
  2. Sign up to merchant newsletters. Sure you might get a few extra emails in your inbox, but often these merchants also include coupons and offers which are not available to the general public. Moreover, the online coupons are sometimes “one time use,” so you can’t even Google for these offers.
  3. Use a price comparison engine to compare prices from dozens of other merchants. This is especially effective with consumer electronics and computers. Before I even start hunting for coupon codes, I will usually check the price at a few of my favorite price comparison sites like Pricegrabber, Shopping.com and Bizrate. One word of caution: make sure you check the merchant ratings before you buy. Some of the merchants may have the lowest price, but they will only have a few dozen reviews. I always shop with merchants that have at least a few hundred to a thousand positive reviews.
  4. Shop Girl PNGUse a rewards site to earn cashback on your purchases. Some coupon and deal sites out there offer cash back on your purchases. All you have to do is register with one of their sites, and use their links to do your shopping. There are many cash back sites to choose from such as Fatwallet.com, eBates.com and more. A few words about cash back sites: most sites require you to reach a minimum in cash back earnings before you will get paid. Also, cash sites are prohibited from providing certain coupons because they are already offering cash back. A non-cashback coupon site might be a better choice for some of your purchases, depending on the coupon offer as compared to the cashback percent you earn.
  5. Don’t be afraid to buy refurbished electronics. That’s right; don’t thumb your nose at these deals. It’s a little known fact that most consumer electronics are more prone to fail within the first 48 hours of their use. Some refurbished warranties are shorter than new product warranties, but since you are usually covered for at least 30 days, you get past that initial failure rate. For example, if you are shopping for an Apple product, you will get a superb deal if you buy a refurbished product direct from Apple. Apple offers refurbished iPods and Macs for a substantially reduced price, sometimes as much as 30% off, and they offer a 1 year warranty! Every Apple product I’ve ever bought has been refurbished, and I’ve never had a problem.
  6. Watch out for Dynamic pricing! Dynamic pricing is used by merchants to offer different prices to consumers who come from various marketing channels. Basically this means that you could get a different price depending on which route you took to get to the site. I see this often with Dell Computers. If you’ve ever received their catalog in the mail, they tell you to go to specific web addresses to get the catalog deals. These prices are often higher than what you get going through the affiliate channel of a deal or coupon site. Another example is if you come from a price comparison engine –sometimes the price comparison engine price is higher to compensate for the cost of advertising with the comparison engine. To avoid this, you might want to clear your cookies after clicking through.
  7. If you insist on going to a store, you can still use the Internet to save money. Many sites offer printable coupons for all of the popular merchants. Again, I go back to Google and do a search for “Merchant Name” + “Printable Coupon.” If your search doesn’t yield anything, you can try visiting popular coupon sites like wow-coupons.com and val-pak.com. Of course, you should always check your local newspapers, which are still a fantastic way of getting printable coupons for local merchants.
  8. Use a cash back credit card when making any purchase! Just find a credit card that earns you points or awards, and then put all of your purchases on it. The key to using cash back credit cards is paying off your entire balance at the end of the month to avoid finance charges. Finance charges can quickly offset any savings you earn from rewards.
  9. Check the clearance schedules of your local stores. Most merchants have a predictable discount schedule. Target is known to discount items after holiday sales. The sale prices get progressively better the longer you wait after a big shopping holiday. So the first day after Christmas, the discounts might only be 50%. But as Target has more difficulty clearing their inventory, they will incrementally slash prices even more. You need patience, which is an essential virtue for bargain hunters.
  10. Overloaded ShopperUse merchant price matching guarantees to get an even better deal. Merchants like Staples and Circuit City sometimes offer 110% price match guarantees. So if you are at your local Best Buy and find a killer deal, you can bring that price in the form of a receipt or advertisement and get a price match from Staples, sometimes even earning an additional savings. Make sure the item is identical to the product sold by the other merchant. Additionally, merchants may lower the price on an item you just purchased days ago. In this case, you can come back to some merchants and ask for a price match. Amazon offers a 30 price guarantee on purchases. So if you make a purchase at Amazon, and the price goes does down with in 30 days, you are eligible for a refund on the difference.
  11. Watch the shipping prices! Some merchants may advertise the lowest prices, and then go and overcharge for shipping. Compare shipping prices and search Google for free shipping coupons. Many merchants offer free shipping if you reach minimum spending threshold. Amazon is famous for offering free shipping on orders over $25. Sometimes they price items at $24.99, but you can get around this by purchasing a filler item. In fact, there are sites dedicated to filler items, just search “amazon filler items” in Google.
  12. Shop around because some merchants charge sales tax for online purchases if they have a business presence in your state. Depending on the price of your purchase, this could make or break a good deal. Price comparison engines are now displaying tax information if you supply the engine your zip code.
  13. Curb impulse purchases! This especially goes for those who order the latest Apple gadget 5 minutes after Steve Jobs whips it out of his pocket. It pays to wait, often over-hyped gadgets do not meet expectations, resulting in excess inventory. This is where you come in and buy the same gadget at 50% off the original price. Electronics are the most prone to this effect, but I’ve seen the same things happen with designer clothing, cars, and homes :)
  14. BuxrVisit your favorite deal sites. We’ve talked about how coupons enable you to save on just about any purchase. Hot deals websites aggregate the hottest shopping deals every day from hundred of merchants. They are great for browsing to see the latest price drops on just about anything. Moreover, deal sites often find the lowest price on items, regardless of whether they come with a coupon or not. In fact, many of the best deals involve rebates, which are a great way of saving money (just remember to follow the rebate instructions carefully, and mail them in!!).

Saving money online and in-store is easy if you do your home work. Remember to research your product and the various discounts before you make any purchase. And remember there are many other aspects to consider than just price. Make sure the merchant is reputable, find out what the return policy is and always read the fine print.

Happy Shopping!

Photos via Flickr

Entry Filed under: Shopping

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Festival of Frugality #11&hellip  |  March 26th, 2008 at 6:38 am

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  • 2. Dmitriy  |  August 5th, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Live Search now offers a great cash back service.

  • 3. Weekend Reading - 8/16 | &hellip  |  August 16th, 2008 at 7:00 am

    [...] 14 Easy Ways to Use the Internet to Get the Best Shopping Deals – by Buxr – Deals are good! [...]

  • 4. Cameron  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 6:44 am

    It really is a shame the Circuit City went out of business. Shows how quickly internet information can change.

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