Maybe it’s because I live rurally, but I rarely shop for clothes in person anymore. The deals are just too good online for me to justify driving 80 miles to purchase clothing for myself and my kids. Add to that the fact that online shopping allows me to browse in my PJs and avoid crowded stores, over-zealous employees, and endless clearance rack sorting.
I find that, quite often, the deals I find online rival or beat those found in stores. Considering the amount of money and time I would spend chasing in-store deals, doing my shopping on the internet is a no-brainer.
There are a few steps I take to make sure I always get the best prices when making online purchases.
- Use a cash back website
Both sites work similarly in that they give you a percentage of your total back in cash when you make online purchases. For example, when I want to make a purchase at Children’s Place, I check both sites to see which one is offering the highest percentage back. I use that website’s link to take me to Children’s Place, where I make my purchase just like I normally would.
Within a few days, the site will credit the cash back to my account. On average, I earn between 3% and 7% back on purchases. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s more than I’d earn by shopping in the store, and it only requires a few extra seconds of effort on my part.
- Find a coupon code
More often than not, the best sale prices online aren’t available without a coupon code. Sometimes finding that code is as easy as checking out the website’s home page. Other times, though, you have to look a little.
Both ShopAtHome and Ebates will provide you with coupon codes for the site you’re shopping. Other great resources include Retail Me Not and Coupon Cabin. If you shop frequently at a particular store, you might also consider signing up for their email updates to receive the latest codes as soon as they’re released.
- Make a list
Internet shopping provides an illusion of disconnect that makes it easy to overspend. To avoid breaking your budget, try making a list of the items you need before you even turn on the computer. Not only does making a list keep your budget on track, it helps keep your time on track, too. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for can keep you from endless browsing and time-wasting.
- Think outside the (shipping) box
Don’t forget to take into account the cost of shipping when you’re making online purchases. If the shipping and handling charges make your purchase no longer seem like a good deal, you don’t necessarily have to walk away from the purchase.
This obviously isn’t an option if you’re shopping a store that doesn’t have a retail location in your area. If there is a location nearby, though, and you just don’t have the time to make the trip, consider alternatives. Do you have a friend or family member who lives or works near the location and would be willing to pick up your order?
Don’t let a great sale sucker you into paying an arm and a leg for shipping charges, but don’t be afraid to get creative with site to store options.
Shopping online can be a great way to take advantage of deals when going to a retail location isn’t the best option. Follow the tips above to minimize your out of pocket expense and make shopping work for you.
I want to know: what are your tips for scoring the best bargains online?