Finding the Best Deals Online

Doing your shopping online can be a great way to find good deals and save time, if you know what you’re doing. Simply browsing Amazon.com or going to the website of your favorite brick-and-mortar stores, however, is unlikely to turn up any out-of-this world bargains. Here are my top tips for saving money online:

  1. Know what you’re looking for.
    Window shopping, even online, is going to result in buying things you don’t need.
  2. Know how much the item costs locally.
    It’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal when you don’t have a comparison point, especially since online shopping adds shipping fees.
  3. Start with Google Shopping.
    You can enter any search term, and find a list of stores AND auctions that have the item up for sale. You can then sort by price to find out who is offering it at the steepest discount.
  4. Check Reviews.
    Many online stores now have a place where consumers can rate the products they buy. Read them. It is a great way for you to know the pros and cons of a product before you buy.
  5. ALWAYS search for a coupon.
    Online stores are constantly running promotions, but they aren’t going to tell you about them on their front page. There are dozens of web sites where people can enter in the discount codes they receive via special mailings and share to the rest of us. These discounts vary from percentages off, to free shipping, or reduced rates for subscriptions. Just type in terms like “Bed Bath and Beyond Coupon” or “Barnes and Noble Discount Code”. I find a coupon for the vendor I’m purchasing from at least half of the time.
  6. Use in store pick up.
    There are a few stores that are beginning to offer services that allow you to buy online and pick your item up in the store (several photo printing services, The Container Store). This is a great way to save on shipping if you’re buying from a store with a physical location nearby.

Have any other great tips for saving money online? Tell me about them in the comments section. Tomorrow I’ll be adding a list of my best online sources for deals on home goods. Happy shopping!

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