Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

Frugal Friday – Smart Shopping Online

There are tons of places to shop from online.   How do you know if you are getting a good deal?    Shipping can get expensive and there are SOOOOO many choices.   It can be paralyzing!

First of all, if you are looking for something in particular (like a particular model of electronic, a certain toy, or a book), the best place to start is a price comparison site.   This usually works best for expensive items as many lower priced items are within pennies of one another due to transparency.   There are several sites that do this:

Also, when you shop, use a site that gives you cash back for shopping there, if possible.   This is usually only possible with the major retailers.   You can earn rebates on your purchases from most major retailers such as Staples, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Old Navy, etc.   There are a lot of websites from which you can earn rebates.  Since I do not believe in debt, I’m not advocating this, but if you use it anyway, you can get a double percentage back by using a credit card that gives you cash back AND a website that gives cash back.  Neat!

My personal favorite, because I earn money for my children’s college education, is Upromise.    Not only can you earn a percentage back when you shop online via their shopping page, but if you register your store loyalty cards from participating stores (such as Meijer, Publix, CVS, etc.), you can get a contribution when you buy participating products (again, usually big brands).   And recently they’ve added eCoupons.   At the beginning of every month, you can activate coupons you think you will use and attach them to the store cards.   When you make a purchase of the coupon you’ve activated, it will deposit that amount in your Upromise account.

Other options include:

You can also go to MyPoints and earn points for shopping (as well as emails).   It seems to be comparable to the percentage that cash back sites give you.

One of the keys do doing well with these type of sites is to pick one and then stick with it.   Most sites have the same stores and approximately the same percentage.   Sign up for them all if you want, to compare, but just pick one and go with it.   It is also helpful if you find one that has a toolbar to install pointing out earning opportunities.  People who install one typically earn more because they don’t forget to use the site.

Next, take a few extra minutes to find a coupon code to go with your rebate!    Websites like RetailMeNot offer coupon codes for merchants big and small and have a  handy search feature to help find them.    This is a great resource for finding free shipping and $$ off codes.  Many times they will have  coupon codes provided by people just like you.   They also have GREAT forums.   Not only are sales and coupons frequently updated, but you can earn money for the ad revenue on the threads you start via a AdSense account.   How cool is that?   You get to help people save money, keep up on getting good deals AND you earn money to boot.

Another way to find coupons is to sign up for the newsletters of a handful of merchants that you use the most.  Not all of them, they fill your email like mad!   But maybe 5 or 6 and filter those messages to a folder in your email.   When you want to buy something from them, look at that folder to see if they’ve sent you a coupon lately.

So in short, the best way to save money by shopping online is to:

  1. Find the website with the best price…
  2. That you can get a rebate at…
  3. With Free Shipping.
  4. Find a coupon code to go with it (for a % or $ off, a free item and or free shipping).

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Frugal Friday | , , | Leave a comment

Frugal Friday – No Spend Challenge

Being frugal and getting the most bang for your buck takes a lot of work.    There are so many ways to get more for your time and money.   There are rebate sites, point earning sites, coupon-clipping, the CVS/Walgreens games, and a myriad of other ways to do it.

nospend_challenge-726776 I read a post a from MomAdvice in my reader (via $5 Dinner Mom) about the No Spend Challenge she is doing in February.   I desperately need to do this.   In the midst of the move and getting things to prepare, make life easier in a small space and such, I have been getting extremely sloppy and need to get back to telling my money what it’s doing.    So as of today, I will not be spending any money in February.

So what does this mean for us?

I will buy groceries only, try to use the small pantry I have created in the last 2 weeks, only one “snack” per trip (weekly).

We will only eat out twice in February (including Valentine’s Day).

We will limit spending on gas by only driving when necessary and reducing the number of trips to shop out of boredom :).

We will buy nothing for the house, no clothing, no books, no CD’s, no iPhone games, etc.

How about you?   Care to join in the challenge?

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Frugal Friday | , , | Leave a comment