Americans spent $210.6 billion purchasing products on the Internet in 2013, according to Statista, but could that figure have been significantly lower had they done everything they could have to save? Online shopping is typically a money-saving move in and of itself, but there are tactics that you can use to keep even more cash in your pocket. Unless you are debt-free with a finely tuned budget and not a financial care in the world, read on for ways to save extra cash while shopping on the Web.
1. Avoid Shipping Fees
For $99 per year, an Amazon Prime membership gets you free shipping on all of your purchases, plus a great video streaming service. Additionally, if you group your purchases together on other websites you can usually surpass the minimum dollar amount needed in order to avoid costly shipping fees.
You can also do a quick Internet search and find coupon codes for free shipping. Furthermore, many retailers are now offering an in-store pick-up option. Although they might not seem like much, shipping costs add up over time, especially if you tend to do a lot of online shopping.
2. Deal Sharing Websites
Websites like Groupon, Half Off Depot, and Woot, offer stellar deals on both products and services. You can either buy the product directly through the website or print a voucher for a particular service, usually good for 50% off or more. FatWallet, a website essentially run by members who post deals and discounts for a variety of Internet purchases, is also worth a try.
3. Use the Best Credit Card and Research Cash-Back Deals
Some credit cards offer up to 5% cash back for online purchases made in the last quarter of the year. Just look for the best cash-back offer you can find. There are also “deals” which can usually be found by logging into your account. If a deal is listed, signing up for it can get you some serious cash. For example, you might purchase $75 worth of goods at Office Depot and receive a $15 statement credit in return. There is nothing better than scoring extra cash with just a few simple steps – so be sure to do so if you own either of those cards.
4. Use Coupon Codes
The websites RetailMeNot and Savings.com are both great for scoring online coupon codes. There’s no sign-up process required – simply search for the retailer in question, copy the code, and enter it during the checkout process. If you find a 10%-off code and you’re purchasing a $600 laptop, then that right there is an additional $60 you can deposit into your bank account.
5. Discern What Is and Isn’t a Deal
Make sure you know what is and is not a deal. Just because Groupon says it’s selling a camera for $80 when it normally costs $199 doesn’t necessarily make it true. Your best bet for cross-checking prices is to use the websites eBay and Amazon. In plenty of cases, a supposed deal isn’t a deal at all.
6. Make Sure Your Online Payments Are Safe
There are a lot of ways that cyber-criminals can steal money from your credit card. One careless transfer can cost you more than you’ve saved on online purchases for a whole year. For this reason, it is critical to be cautious and aware when online shopping. The best way to be sure your payment is safe is to use some protection.
Let’s say you saved $50 by getting a product from Groupon, received $30 cash back by using the right credit card, and kept an extra $20 in your wallet by avoiding shipping fees. Instead of letting that $100 stew in your checking account, put it towards the area of your finances most in need. For example, you could make an extra payment on your credit card balances, set aside some extra money toward your mortgage, or even beef up your emergency fund. Saving as much as possible on Internet purchases is important, but what you do with that money deserves significant attention, as well.
What ways can you think of to save more money on Internet shopping?
Bruce Perry writes about online shopping, money management, and technology tips.