Unless you’re swimming in cash, I think we can all agree that money saved is money earned, amirite? Of course, the best way to save would be to not shop, period, but let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that’s not going to happen, even when pigs can fly.
So if we’re going to shop, the least we can do is be smart about it and get the most bang for our buck. As a shopaholic extraordinaire™, I’ve got 11 tips I’d like to share with you on how you can save some serious $$$ when shopping online:
- Sign up for Ebates, and shop online whenever possible. Ebates gives you cash back – anywhere from 1% to 16% – whenever you shop through their links or app. In the 2+ years I’ve been using them, I’ve gotten $786.21 back! With most stores now offering free shipping, there’s really no reason to shop in store (though Ebates is now offering limited in-store cash back as well).
- But do visit stores to sample/swatch/try on products. You know, so you don’t end up with something that turns out to be a total dud. It may seem like extra work, but I make a note to do this if I’m already at the mall. Yes it’s hard to resist the instant gratification of buying the products then and there (especially when I’m in Sephora), but I remind myself of the potential 8% cash back online and it’s worth it.
- Add your favorite stores to your Ebates account, and sign up for the double cash back emails. Ebates rotates the stores with these deals, so adding your favorite stores to the list will let them notify you when one of them has double cash back! To prevent impulse purchases, limit these to stores you actually shop at or need something from.
- Sign up for your favorite stores’ newsletters using a separate email account. You don’t want these emails spamming your main account, but at the same time, it’s the best way to get notified of sales and deals. Plus many of them offer a 10% – 20% coupon code for your first purchase! The key is to only sign up for stores that you regularly shop at and not buy something just because it’s on sale. To help me focus and prevent impulse purchases, I…
- Keep a list of all the products you want to buy and why you want to buy them. I do this regularly when I read blog reviews or when I’m browsing online. Currently I’m using Giftry, which comes with a browser extension, mobile app, and mobile browser extension so I can save products on any device. Here’s my embarrassingly long wishlist in case you’re curious.
- Sign up for the store credit card if you shop there regularly. I know some people get iffy about signing up for multiple credit cards, but if you shop at a particular store regularly and you always pay your bills in full and on time, the rewards are totally worth it. I have the TJMaxx/Marshall’s/HomeGoods card and I regularly get $10 coupons in the mail thanks to their generous 5% cash back reward. If you’re a regular Ulta shopper you might want to check out their card that gives you double points per purchase!
- Take advantage of your credit card perks and rewards. One of my favorite credit cards, Chase Freedom, offers 5% cash back on rotating categories like department stores or drugstores. Pair that with the double cash back from Ebates (see tip #3), and you can get 15% – 20% back for your purchases! Throw in a coupon that you got from the newsletter (see tip #4), and you’re looking at 30%-50% saved.Or if you have an American Express, they offer free ShopRunner memberships, which guarantee free 2-day shipping and returns for 100+ stores! Definitely check out your card to see what the perks are, and if there are none, consider signing up for a better one (I could write a whole post on maximizing credit card rewards…let me know if you’re interested)?
- Put your student email to good use. If you still have access to your university email address, I highly recommend signing up for StudentBeans and Unidays for some coupon codes that give you an extra 10% to 20% off your order! Unfortunately these discounts usually don’t stack with store-wide sales, but any discount is better than no discount.
- Don’t limit yourself to local stores. Being in the US, we’re fortunate to have local access to brands and products from all over the world. However, you can save significantly if you chose to shop from an oversea store, many which offer free shipping. Mili from Sharmtoaster has a great post on the cost difference of buying Omorovicza products from CultBeauty, and I’ve confirmed the same significant savings for Oskia and By Terry products.If you’re looking for Taiwanese or Japanese brands, I recommend checking out MyHuo (store review here) or BGO (on Google Translate if you can’t read Chinese). And unless your order exceeds $800, I wouldn’t worry about duties. A credit card with $0 foreign exchange fees would be perfect in this situation, and really one worth having if you do any type of international traveling.
- Take advantage of price tracking and price matching. Places like Amazon constantly fluctuate their prices, so a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel let’s you know if you’re buying at a peak and will notify you if prices ever drop. For other major retailers, you can use PricePinx instead. In case the price drops after you’ve already ordered, it never hurts to ask the retailer to price match, especially if it’s within a 2 week window. Many credit cards also offer price protection, so check with your issuing bank!
- Don’t be afraid to complain to the store and to your local consumer protection agency. Obviously I’m talking reasonable complaints here, but if a store fails to deliver on the quality of their products or service, you need to speak up. I’ve extended my Amazon Prime membership by almost a year for free due to them repeatedly missing their 2-day delivery date. If contacting the store doesn’t work, try the Better Business Bureau (US and Canada) or a local consumer protection agency. 9/10 times the store has responded favorably when I complained via BBB #justsayin
And this is how I manage to keep my spendings within budget, despite my seemingly frequent shopping trips. The great thing is that most of these require very little effort, yet the savings can be huge when you add them up. If anything, the most effort spent would be in the waiting – waiting for the sales, waiting for the coupons, and waiting for the double cash backs. However, I find that as a result of the waiting, I’m able to thoroughly think through the items I want to purchase and drastically reduce the number of impulse purchases.
So let’s all shop smarter and save more, yes? Let me know what your favorite money saving tip is, or if you’d like to see more dollar-stretching posts in the future! As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great week ahead :)