Thrifty Tip: Shop Online

 Posted by on July 28, 2008  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Jul 282008

Time for the next installment of my Thrifty Tips You Can Use series!

Today, 75% of people in the United States have access to the internet, and online shopping is common. I shop online for many reasons:

1) It saves gas.
2) I can often find better deals and a greater selection online.
3) I despise shopping. I would much rather sit on my behind in front of the computer, click a few things, and be done with it!

Here are some of my favorite tips and places to shop online:

1) If you like to buy books, check out BookFinder or FetchBook. These sites will search used and new book dealers, such as Amazon, Alibris, and Abebooks, to find your book at the lowest price, including shipping. When I buy books, which is rare because I use the library so much, I always check these sites first.

2) eBay is a great source of new and used goods. Just remember to factor in the shipping costs before you buy. Sometimes the cost of shipping can make the overall price higher than what you would pay in a store. I’ll talk more about buying on eBay as I continue my eBay for Beginners series.

3) Check Amazon Grocery for deals on bulk food and household supplies. Shipping is free, and they have a very good selection of natural and organic foods, as well “green” cleaning and paper products. Be careful, and compare unit prices! You must buy in bulk, and often the prices are still higher than at my favorite grocery store. However, they typically run specials that bring the price down. For example, I purchased 16 boxes of All Free and Clear laundry detergent last year, because they were running a special, which brought the price down below the cheapest price I had recorded in my price book. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience!

4) Before you buy anything online, google the store name to search for coupon codes. It’s surprising how often you can find at least a free shipping code posted on one of the many coupon sites. Once, I was buying a photo calendar for my Dad from Snapfish, so before I checked out, I googled “Snapfish coupon code,” and found a 20% off code for gifts. It saved me $4.00!

5) If you’re looking for a gift card to a certain store, visit Card Avenue. On this site, people buy, sell and trade gift cards from popular stores, such as Barnes and Noble, ITunes, Target, and Sears. You bid on the card you’re interested in, and you can often win it for quite a bit less than its value. I won a $150 Sears gift card for $118. So, I basically got $32 to spend at Sears for free.

6) Try shopping search engines like Shopzilla or to comparison shop for big ticket items like cameras, furniture or appliances.

7) If you aren’t opposed to buying used CDs, DVDs, and books (including textbooks), check Amazon and for significantly reduced prices.

8) Before you buy toys for your kids, check out Toy Swap. For a small transaction fee, this site allows you to swap the toys you have for toys you want. The transaction fee is waived for the entire summer, so head on over there!

9) If you love magazines, or want to give subscriptions as gifts, visit Discount Magazines for tons of popular magazines for only $5.95 for a year’s subscription! Some available titles include Family Fun, Country Home, Parents, and Working Mother.

10) Sites like Clark Color and Snapfish offer quality photo finishing at great prices. They often have free shipping coupon codes, and free offers for new customers. Clark Color had a 15% off code, and 20 free prints for new customers. Even with shipping, I got a lot of digital prints for about 8 cents each -far less than I would have paid at Wal-Mart or Wal-greens.

11) Visit Free Mania to find great free product samples! I also wanted to share a link to Wal-Mart’s free sample site.

12) Remember to always factor in shipping, and compare unit prices to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible! Most importantly, take safety precautions, and always pay with a credit card! If you want to read some helpful tips for safe online shopping, the American Bar Association has an excellent article here.

I’d love to hear about your favorite online shopping sites!