wheelin’ and dealin’ with online purchases
If you haven’t seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, it’s worth watching it just once to see what crazy clipping (and hours spent on the internet researching these deals/filing coupons/shopping at multiple stores) looks like. When I lived on my own, I was an avid clipper because our local Ralph’s had double coupons… and who can pass up yogurt for breakfast when it’s only $0.25 and your rent for your studio apartment in Brentwood is $1100!
I still check the coupons every Sunday, but only clip for products we already purchase and use in the household… not for new things or extra things. That way I know we’re actually saving money, not just spending less on something else.
Now online spending is different because I NEVER make a purchase online without checking for two things: rebates and coupon codes. In fact, I just saved an additional $30 on an upcoming hotel stay for booking smart through a site that offered rebates just by checking! [p.s. if this sounds familiar, you may recall an old post about my travel deals two years ago]
Rebate services provide a monetary kick-back for shopping at an online store through a specific gateway website. It’s usually a percentage of the end purchase price (i.e. 3%) or a static amount in dollars (i.e. $2 per purchase). Your kick-backs accumulate in a virtual account until the amount of money hits a certain threshold, and then it’s sent to you!
The most popular rebate sites are:
Ebates (Awards available 30 days later. $5 min cashout – automatic every 3 months)
Mr. Rebates (Awards available 90 days later. $10 min. cashout)
Lootzi (Awards available 90 days later)
FatWallet (Awards available 3-4 months later – min of $10 (check), no min (paypal))
BigCrumbs (Awards via Paypal – Every month – No min)
You know what these are! The awesome codes that are constantly enticing you to shop at certain stores and are often sent via email mailers. You may know certain codes, but did you know that certain companies will send better offers to certain customers? It’s always best to check and see if there’s a better coupon out there!
Putting it all together
This is where I spend my extra 5 minutes before I hit “checkout” at a store. I check a couple of sites to make sure that I’m not missing out on any free money that I could collect with a few extra clicks.
evreward.com – This site provides up to date coupons and current rebate offers, but excludes a few as well.
CashReporter – this site provides all of the rebate link offers, but doesn’t include points programs or other rewards or coupon codes.
Retailmenot.com – easy to find coupon codes for most sites… another great site is CouponCabin.com
And finally… if I really really really need a great deal that might be hidden, I head to the HOT DEALS forums on fatwallet.com and see what I can find!
Almost all of my online retail purchases end up going something like this…
1) Browse to the top rebate site
2) Find the business in their directory and click through
3) Checkout from the store using a coupon code
4) Enjoy the happiness that comes with saving money that you weren’t ever planning on saving!
Have any more handy tips I can add to my methods? Better deal aggregator sites?? I’m ready to hear!!!
I don’t buy anything online without trying to find coupon codes. I was ordering new contacts and saved almost $100 when I was able to combine offers. I was so happy. I haven’t used the sites you posted so I usually just google store name + coupon code and try everything until something works. It is really worth the little bit of extra time to be able to save money.
Oh my, I though I was doing good with ebates and googling coupons/ retail me not… Now I see I can do much better! I will definitely be checking out some of the sites you listed. Thanks for sharing!!
i need to remember to click through the provider’s website for the rebates. i always forget and go directly to whatever store i need to buy from. sigh. hopefully this will get me into actually saving some more money!
I’m with Liz. I need to do better. i am loving you get cash back from Ebates on Groupon purchases!
You have great timing! I’m looking for a good deal on hotel rooms in San Francisco, and I completely forgot about eBates. Thanks for the reminder (and the additional tips!)
New follower from the Alexa blog hop :)
Good information…though I wish I was as meticulous as you! I check for a couple of things and then give up! :)
If it is a smaller company, potentially en ETSY seller, or a specific product I am looking for, I also do a Google Blog search. Usually I go a few pages in to get past all the coupon sites, and you can sometimes find some great deals that people have posted on their personal blogs.