Since my "How to Coupon for Normal People" post went a little nuts and is still riding the "pin it" train on Pinterest, I figured this is obviously a topic people are interested in! I can certainly understand why. When I first saw the Extreme Couponing TV specials, I was hooked. If other people are getting things for free, I don't see why I shouldn't be too! Today I'm going to give you three easy tips on how to save money online. There are a LOT of options in internet land, so you might want to take one step at a time until you feel pro enough to combine ALL these methods to save even more.
1. Cashback Portals
The first and easiest way is through portals. How easy are cashback portals? So easy that I've trained my husband to do it before he makes his online purchases. You just need to remember to do it. Sticky notes on your monitor are great for this. Try "SPEND LESS MONEY" or whatever motivates you :)
What is a cashback portal? It's a website where you make a typical log in account and use it to direct you to the websites you're already shopping in. When you use their links, the portal rewards you by giving you a certain percentage of cash back. So they might be offering 5% cashback on Amazon purchases, so long as you click the link to Amazon from their website. A pretty small price to pay for some extra money. And it adds up fast if you make a lot of online purchases.
There are a lot of cashback portals. For a while, I thought Ebates was the only one. I was not doing my research. Shame on me. Ebates is a great one, but it's not necessarily the most rewarding.
Evreward is a great website that lets you search for the store you're shopping in to see all the ways to maximize your money there. Here's an example scenario for you... let's say I want to buy something from Target.com.
I start off by searching "Target" on Evreward.
Notice in the yellow box on the right that they are suggesting that I shop at these other similar stores. If I'm buying a blender at Target, odds are that Macy's has it too and since it looks like Macy's has a better savings right now, I should probably go check them out. But we'll stick with the Target example for now.
If I'd just blindly used Ebates, I would have earned 2.5% cash back, whereas if I do it through ShopDiscover, I'll get 5%. That's good to know. And since I'm currently earning American Airlines points, it's nice that this website shows me how many points I'll earn from that as well (though at Target, I'd probably use my Target credit card for an additional 5% savings instead).
2. Coupon Codes
Still on Evreward... below the portals and credit card point offers, you have your good old fashioned sales and coupon codes. The bread and butter of online savings. If it says "NO CODE REQ'D" that just means it's a sale and they'll link you to that page of the website.
I find it very handy to have all this information in one place. I used to hop around from portals to coupon code sites like Retailmenot.com, but this is much more streamlined.
3. Gift Cards
Now, hold your horses. Before you assume this is a cop out trick, I'm not talking about gift cards that someone buys for you and now you've saved money because someone else spent it instead. I mean, earning your own discounted gift cards.
Raise.com is a great website that I only recently discovered for buying and selling gift cards. I used to use Ebay to buy gift cards and coupons for less than they're worth to save money (the Bed Bath and Beyond employee was stunned when I not only had a coupon for every dish in our dining set, but that I'd gotten the coupons from Ebay for a couple dollars that wound up saving us over $100). But something about Raise.com feels more official to me. I never had any issues with schemers on Ebay and they do have buyers protection, but Raise has a great selection and is really easy to use.
All you do is search for the store you're shopping in. Last week I made a lot of purchases at Home Depot, so I bought one of these cards for 8.2% savings. You can hunt around too and see if Lowe's has a better option for you. It's usually easier to find coupons for Lowe's (go to your post office and ask for them) so even if their gift card savings are lower, it might be worth it.
I like how Raise does "egift" cards. When I purchased mine last week, they'd emailed me the gift card code in about an hour. I used it on the Home Depot website, selected "pick up in store" and went out and picked up my purchases from the store so I wouldn't have to wait for a delivery.
Make sure you're using a rewarding credit card to purchase these gift cards to maximize your earnings! For the longest time, Erik and I used an Amazon Chase card to earn points on Amazon, but since we're planning a trip to Europe next year, we've switched to travel reward cards.
These are just a few ways to save money online. Try them out! Not one of these things is difficult and soon enough you'll be combining all three methods to save as much money as possible.
If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments!