As the Christmas deadline gets nearer, many people hop online to scoop up those last-minute gifts. While shoppers can find lots of great sales this time of year, there are also a number of other ways to save online. Here’s a rundown of my favorite online tactics to help you find all the gifts on your list – for even less than you had planned on spending.
Don’t pay for shipping. Pick up larger items in-store, or add on a few small items to reach the free-shipping threshold. However, don’t blow your budget on items you don’t need just to achieve free shipping. If you’re shopping at a site that allows free returns, order in multiple sizes and colors to make sure you’re getting what you want, then return the rejects.
Shop Wednesdays through Fridays. These are the days most retailers roll out sales and coupon codes.
Abandon your cart to lure a deal. If you know you want something but aren’t sold on the price, put it in your online shopping cart and then close your browser. Companies will often reach out when this happens and give you a discount. But this ploy works only if you have an account with the merchant and are logged in when you leave your cart.
Clear your cookies to keep discounts available. Often when you visit a site for the first time, an offer for first-time shoppers will appear, only to be nowhere in sight when you’re finally ready to buy a few days later. Clearing your cookies and browsing history will bring those offers back.
Don’t forget the coupon codes. If you’re not already checking sites like Retailmenot and Brad’s Deals for current discounts, change your habits immediately. You’ll be able to see how recently codes have worked for other shoppers.
Consider a cashback program. Ebates and Swagbucks lead the pack when it comes to sites that let you earn money as you shop, but there are many more. Make sure it’s worth the extra time and hassle before signing up, though – and beware that using a cashback site often makes coupons invalid.
Love Amazon? Track its pricing changes. Camelcamelcamel is a site that lets you know how prices are fluctuating on the retail megastore.
Request discounts directly. If a customer service chat window pops up while you’re shopping, don’t be shy: Ask if you can get a lower price.
Use a different email address to sign up for rewards programs. This way, you can keep your regular email uncluttered and not feel guilty about signing up for yet another online newsletter. You can also use this account to follow your favorite retailers on social media, where daily deals and coupons pop up for fans.
We have done most of our holiday shopping online for the past several years. For our extended family we buy only for kiddos and usually come up with a theme. We have done custom books, pajamas, board games, knot blankets, and this year I think we are going to do slippers. This allows us to find the best deal for those items, buy online, and be done!
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.