Online shopping has become big business, especially this last year. I love shopping online because it saves me the hassle of dealing with crowded shopping malls and difficult people. It also often saves me money. But how do I know that I’m really getting the best price? It can be hard to tell, but there are a few simple steps that help.
If you are buying an item that is available through many vendors, look at the prices at a few places before you decide where to buy. For example, my contact lenses are available at a lot of online retailers. I check the prices from at least five sites. It only takes a few minutes, and I often find huge differences.
For example, I just spent two minutes and found these different prices at the first three results for “cheap contact lenses”:
– $25.99 per box, with a significant discount if I buy 8 boxes, bringing them down to $19.75 a box. This company offers free shipping.
– $17.95 per box, with a $1 discount for 8 boxes, bringing the price down to $16.95 per box. Also, free shipping.
– $19.99 per box, down to $17.99 per box with an 8 box purchase. Free shipping!
As you can see, two minutes of effort found prices at nearly $25 less than the first place listed on the internet search.
Lance Cothern from MoneyManifesto.com recommends that you “always search for a coupon or promo code on Google before you check out. If you find one, it’s an easy way to save money!” I absolutely agree – coupon codes can bring down the total cost significantly. It might be for a percentage off, or a dollar amount discount, or free or upgraded shipping. A quick internet search for the name of the store, followed by “coupon code,” should bring up a variety of options.
Keep in mind that many of the coupon code aggregation sites are terrible at keeping their codes up-to-date. I spent over a half-hour last night trying to find a good coupon code for my new planner purchase.
Another way to obtain coupon or promo codes is through the company’s email list, Facebook page, or Twitter account. If they’ve posted it on Facebook, you might be able to see it even if you haven’t liked their page. However, email and Twitter require you to take some action. I usually try to reserve this for companies with which I do a lot of business.
You’ll usually have to add the coupon codes to the prices you’ve found in step 1 to find the true lowest net price. This shouldn’t take too long, though, and the savings are worth the effort.
Use Shopping Rebates Sites
Once you’ve found your coupon codes and worked out the lowest possible price, you should see if you can get any rebates or cash back for your purchase. I almost exclusively use Rakuten, but I still check at CashBackHolic.com to see if any other site is offering a significantly better rebate. These rebates can be significant – I received $70 back on the purchase of some domain names this year! (And you can get a $20 bonus on your first rebate with Rakuten!)
As a bonus, many of these cash-back sites also feature coupon codes, for a double win.
Using these three steps will ensure that you never pay too much for your online purchases. It might take a few minutes to start, but eventually the process will become part of your shopping routine. Your wallet will thank you!
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