Online shopping is no longer a thing of the future. It is now the everyday, normal practice and shopping experience for nearly every household. I know that I prefer to shop online for pretty much everything. Between Amazon, Kohls, Walmart Grocery (order groceries online and pull up and they load your car), Vitacost, Tropical Traditions and Zaycon Foods, I am covered for every category in my home.
Physical store shopping has actually become my “mom just needs some time out” plan. It’s not even my normal plan anymore. I do it all online. And I am not the only one! It is what you do in this day and age.
But doing all of my shopping online doesn’t only save me time and headache (from loading kids in the car and running around town); I actually find it to be cheaper because of the plethora of ways to shop and guarantee my best prices.
How To Guarantee The Best Prices When Shopping Online:
Step #1 – Read Reviews
So this first step might not actually save you money immediately. But both Alex and I find this to be an absolutely crucial step to ultimately saving money.
For years, we struggled to know the balance between being thrifty and being cheap.
After many bad buying experiences of cheap stuff (e.g., purchasing wireless phones at Sam’s Club that actually state on their website [we found out later – with no fix] their phones continuously lose signal from their base) and ultimately spending lots more money and headache, we learned that being thrifty is being a smart buyer – not a cheap buyer. Understanding this balance and this concept will save you loads of money in the future.
So this is where the reviews come in. Reading reviews online will help you determine whether there is a reason a certain product is selling for such a cheap price. And sometimes, though not always, we have found that spending a few extra dollars up front will save us a lot of money later from not having to replace a broken/not working product.
Ever since we have taken on this perspective, we find that we rarely have to replace items we have bought, or at least not replace for a long while. Reviews will help you spend your money well and wisely.
A simple Google search will often yield great results, but what we prefer and normally do is head to Amazon and search and read the reviews. These are from real customers and real reviews on a product and we have found the reviews here to be the most helpful.
Step #2 – Compare Prices (and price match if you have a preferred store)
This is EASY to do when shopping online, unlike brick and mortar shopping. There are many apps and websites that you can use to compare the best prices. The most obvious is Google Shopping, as this gives you everything (including used and on eBay), but you can filter the results to show new and other options to help eliminate every unrelated option. Price Grabber is another place to check.
Step #3 – Always Use an Online Coupon
After you have read reviews and determined which model, variety, and/or type will fit your needs and budget best and after you have hunted down the target price, next is the all important step of using coupons.
This just means your order drops by even that much more. There are so many online coupons and so many ways to find online coupons. The best way is to use a site that posts the coupons from all of the online sites out there and in one spot to make it easy to find. A site like Frugaa does this. In fact, they have over 44,000 online coupons listed on their site currently and they add dozens of new ones each day as they become available.
Don’t worry, it’s super easy to find what you are looking for. All you have to do is search by store name and the coupons you need will appear.
Step #4 – Get Cash Back Every Time
The final step is to get cash back on your purchases. We have used three main resources for this over the years that we can rely on and trust: TopCashBack, Ebates and Swagbucks. I actually compare their cash back offers on all three sites to decide which to use as their rates vary. Whichever is offering the most, that’s the one I choose!
Step #5 – If you can, wait for a lower price.
If you don’t need the item now, but can wait, simply enter the product into sites like CamelCamelCamel or PriceZombie and they will watch the price for you and email you when it drops. You can even set your target price. We’ve done this many times.
And then, once you get that alert, use an online coupon and rebate to save even more = lowest price + coupon + cash back = guaranteed lowest price.
I want to share one final tip that we have done and continue to do quite frequently. That is, purchase gift cards at a discount. The nice thing about a gift card is that it is the same as cash and does not affect being able to use coupons, price-matching, price comparing, etc. So, if time allows you to, get a gift card and pay for it with a gift card. But don’t get just any gift card, get a discounted gift card.
We buy ours through Cardpool or Swagbucks. We are able to buy gift cards for at least 3% off, but most of the time, it’s 5%, 6% or more! That just means a little extra savings in our bank account. If you can’t wait or if you would rather have gas rewards – always buy a gift card at Kroger and sister stores. Yes, they are not discounted, but you will rack up points a lot quicker for some nice gas rewards. An easy extra $0.10 off per gallon of gas means a couple of dollars saved! Costco and Sam’s Club will have some small selection of discounted gift cards too!
It might not seem like a lot in the end, but if you save 5% from price comparing, 15% from an online coupon, get 5% of your purchase back and pay for it with a gift card that you bought for 5% less, this all adds up to some pretty great savings in the end (not to mention the sales prices you are going after in the first place). Yes, all of this combined is truly above and beyond those…all for the lowest price guaranteed. 🙂