Saving $ shopping online...

Discussion in 'Budget & Bargains' started by AuntJamelle, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    As we head into the final lap of our journey to the holidays this year I was thinking it might be nice to start a thread to share general tips and tricks for saving money when shopping online.

    Obviously there are a TON of websites out there that specialize in posting great deals, etc.

    It can be overwhelming! I thought I'd share a few ways that I've been able to get more bang for my buck and see if anyone else wanted to chip in for good measure. :)

    I'm going to break the info I have to share up into a couple of posts. There turned out to be a LOT!

    Please feel free to jump in and share thoughts, comments, suggestions! How do YOU make your dollar work harder online?

    I am a big fan of shopping online as much as possible for Christmas! What do you do?
  2. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member


    I signed up for a free Ebates account a year ago and didn't do a whole lot with it. But I've made some purchases recently and am expecting a good check in the mail next month!

    I just have to remember to go to Ebates site first, then lookup the store I want to shop at - like - and click the link to get there.

    TIP: I’ve noticed that on the same screen that I click the button to link to the store site – there are online deals and coupon codes listed for that store if I take the time to look at them. Often there are tons and tons as I scroll down. I’ve saved quite a bit by taking the time to look here and then entering a coupon code in the checkout screen of the store website.

    Right now everything I buy at gets me 7% cashback on my Ebates account. Which is great! Different stores have different cashback percentages.
    You can choose different ways to get your rewards $ but I have chosen to have them mail me a check. They only mail them out every few months or so. And they will only mail a check once you’ve earned at least $20 in rewards.
    But the rewards don’t seem to expire quickly so they can sit there and accumulate over time. I had $2.74 in rewards on there from last year that are still there and will be part of the check I get next month.


    I think we’ve talked about this website on MHH before. I’ve been using it a LOT this year. Unlike Ebates where you actually get a cashback percentage of your purchase, Swagbucks awards you points.

    You have to get so many points to be able to claim a reward. For example, I’ve gotten many, many, many $5 Amazon eGift Certificates by earning 450 points and cashing them in.

    Money Saving Mom has a great series on Swagbucks that covers all the ways you can earn points online. For example, if you search the web via Swagbucks site (or their toolbar) you randomly earn points. I just earned 9 points for searching “Money Saving Mom” to look up this link!

    It really is a matter of personal preference of course, whether a site like this is worth it to you. But between searching the web and points awarded for shopping via their site AND by using coupons I’ve printed from their site (they are just the coupons) I’ve managed to earn a steady points “income”.

    There are plenty of other ways to earn – these are just the ones that fit the best with my life right now!
  3. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Ebates vs. Swagbucks vs. Something Else

    I imagine there are a score of other websites similar to Ebates or Swagbucks out there now. These are just the two I’ve used so far. I honestly can’t keep track of the ins and outs of more than these two babies right now.

    Whenever I go to make a purchase online I check for the store in question on both sites. Sometimes the store is an option via one site but not the other. Makes the decision real easy.

    Other times it is a matter of deciding whether I would rather earn immediate points via Swagbucks or bank some cashback $ at Ebates. I compare how much $ back I would get to Ebates to how many points I might earn via Swagbucks and make a judgement call.

    This is an ongoing learning process for me for sure!

    Discover Credit Card

    Let me just say, I am NOT a fan of massive credit card use. That being said, I have had good success with Discover card’s cashback reward programs.

    Every three months they run a promotion. You log into your account online and “sign up” for said promotion. For example, Oct through Dec this year, I can earn 5% cashback reward for every purchase I make ONLINE. I can earn up to $1500 in rewards this way.
    5% isn’t a whole lot, really, but it can add up slowly over the months.

    If you are planning to make a lot of Christmas purchases online anyway, it might make sense to use Discover and then just pay it off.

    My rule of thumb is, I have the $ in checking, I put the charge on Discover – wait for it to process and then pay it off. I avoid accruing interest this way but still get my rewards.

    NOTE: You can only redeem Discover rewards in certain amounts - $25, $50 and so on. So if you’ve only earned $24.99 you can’t cash it in until you’ve earned more.

    The points roll over from period to period though.

    Who knows what the promotion will be at the beginning of next year, but at least right now they have my interest!

    Coupon Codes

    Do we all know about coupon codes? Because I just LOVE THEM! There are many, many ways to find them.

    The main thing is to train yourself to ALWAYS search for a coupon code before you check out of any online purchase!

    I’ve googled “sears coupon code” or “kohls coupon code” or whatever and found them that way.

    As I mentioned above, Ebates seems to be a great resource for various codes.

    STOCKING STUFFER ALERT: I have been buying my makeup online via Sephora’s website for a few years now. I budget ahead and spend at least $50 at a time. That is usually for a foundation and one other big item, foundation primer or powder or something like that.
    By spending $50 I get free shipping.

    And then I can almost always find a coupon code that gets me a free sample of something.

    Free beauty samples = stocking stuffers for my sisters.

    Store Rewards Programs

    So many stores out there today have rewards programs. You sign up for free. You earn points/rewards for purchases made. We all know this.

    I have a Sears Shop Your Way account that I use when I make any purchases, in store or online, at Sears, Kmart, Land’s End, etc. The reward system isn’t major, 10 pts for every $1 spent. Right now I have earned 732 points which equals out to $0.73 in rewards. You apply that amount to a new purchase to save a little money.

    The key is consistently using your store card to let the rewards build up over time.
    Sephora is another GREAT place to have a rewards card. I have to buy makeup anyway, but by using my Beauty Insider account every time I make a purchase in store OR online I earn points.

    You can cash out points on small sample items or let them bank forever like I’ve done and eventually get a bigger item for free.

    You get a free gift for your birthday every year. AND when you buy something online, you almost always get the chance to pick about 3 samples for free – as just a bonus with your order. The screen will show you 10 or so things and you pick the 3 you want.
    Once again – STOCKING STUFFERS!
  4. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member


    The thing I’ve learned about all of these various methods I’ve listed so far is that none of them are going to save you’re a TON of money on each purchase on their own.
    What does have more of an impact is 1.) Consistently using them over time to let points/rewards build and 2.) STACKING THEM!

    If you are familiar with couponing, you know that the biggest bang for your grocery dollar comes when you stack a coupon with a sale item.

    I’m finding that the biggest bang for my ONLINE BUCK is stacking these programs!

    EXAMPLE: Today I purchased foundation and primer from Sephora. I went to Ebates site and found that in the month of October they are offering dbl cash back points for Sephora purchases. That means 8% cashback. Awesome!

    So I clicked through to the Sephora website from Ebates. I signed into my Beauty Insider account. I searched for the items I wanted and added them to my cart. Because I chose $50 in items shipping was free. During the checkout process I was prompted to select 3 free samples, which I gladly did!

    I almost ALMOST clicked “Place Order”! BUT WAIT – I hadn’t checked for a coupon code! Whew! That was close!

    So I flipped back over to my Ebates window (still open) and scanned that screen. I found a nice coupon code that got me a sample set of the same makeup I use normally.

    So I went back to the Sephora screen and plugged that in and got more for free!

    Then I used my Discover card to pay when I checked out.

    So the cost breaks down like this:

    - I got what I intended to buy plus 3 free samples + a free sample set of the makeup I use anyway
    - Sephora Order Total $53.50 (with tax)
    - Ebates 8% Cashback = $4.28
    - Discover 5% Cashback = $2.68
    - Sephora Beauty Points Earned = 50

    The key for me is that I had to buy the make up anyway, but I’m making my $ work harder.
    If I use a combination of these methods, consistently over time, I see the results.
  5. Ahorsesoul

    Ahorsesoul Santa's Elves

    I'll have to remember these tips. tis
  6. luludou

    luludou Well-Known Member

    great tips AJ! need to restart Swagbucks
  7. sloanmama

    sloanmama New Member

    Thanks for posting this. Such great tips! And who doesn't want to try and save a little cash anytime during the year, but especially during the holidays.

    I use Ebates every time I order online. I love it and I love getting my "big fat check" in the mail from my cash back offers. You are right, you must remember to scroll down and check to see if there are any coupon codes working on whatever site you are buying from.

    I used to do swagbucks but I'm not consistent enough with it for it to matter much.

    We also have Amazon Prime membership which gets me FREE 2-day shipping on most things on Amazon. Yes, it costs money (an annual fee) but the $79 annual charge for Amazon Prime includes FREE Two-Day Shipping, Prime Instant Video (which we use like you might use a Netflix account... only Amazon is cheaper per month), and the Kindle Owner's Lending Library (for Kindle lovers).

    I check out Money Saving Mom website regularly for deals those types of websites always seem to have the inside track on. And another favorite of mine is Hip2Save. I check out those two sites several times a day.

    That's mostly what I use. If I think of anything else, I'll post it here!
  8. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    I'm a big fan of Hip2Save and Money Saving Mom too! :) LOVE 'em!

    I also went ahead and purchased the Amazon Prime membership at the beginning of this year and I have been loving it!

    Another thing I thought to share is kind of a combination real store/online shopping thing...

    IF you have a Kroger grocery store in your area with a gas station - please, please check out their gas rewards program! Called "Fuel Points"

    Every $ spent at Kroger earns you a point. Prescriptions filled at Kroger earn 50 fuel points each. Gift Cards purchased at Kroger earn dbl fuel points for every $ spent. So at $25 GC = 50 points.

    Every 100 points = $0.10 off per gallon of gas/up to 35 gallons

    The reason I bring it up in this thread of online shopping is this. If I know I am going to make an online purchase, I try to remember to pop into Kroger and buy a gift card for the store I am going to be using online.

    That way I earn fuel points, plus I still get the other benefits as stated previously, Ebates cashback, store rewards programs, etc.

    What is really nice is that on a regular basis Kroger will make the deal even sweeter. For every gift card you buy you get 4X the fuel points for each $ spent.

    So right now a $25 gift card = 100 points

    I'll buy gift cards for upcoming birthdays and/or Christmas when the deal is that good!

    For that matter - I buy them for McDonalds or Subway or places we eat out at frequently! Or my FAV - Starbucks! :)

    Just be sure to sign up for Kroger card! Register it online - their customer service is great if you run into trouble - and then load the digital coupon that gets you the 4X the fuel points.

    Right now the deal is only good through 10/5 but they will more than likely run the deal again before the holidays!

    The list of gift cards you can get is LONG!
  9. Sugarplum

    Sugarplum Well-Known Member

    Wow, what a great system!

    My only online savings trick is to order early so I can get the free shipping from Amazon and not worry about it being here on time for Christmas, lol.

    I like the fact that if you need to buy something anyway, you might as well get rewards for doing that.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

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