Monday, November 29, 2010

Your guide to Online Holiday Shopping


Happy Cyber Monday alll!!!!
I just wanted to re-post this.
Check out all the sites for rebates, discounts and price comparing while you
are looking around today


As I told you on Monday, myself and the other Mommy Bloggers here in Knoxville are doing a
series of posts over the next few weeks to help you all save a little(hopefully a lot) of money during the Holidays.
If you missed Monday's post from Melissa of Frugalissa Finds about Black Friday you can see that HERE.


With all of that being said, let's get down to business.
If you have been reading Knoxville On A Dime for any length of time, you know that I
am a huge fan of shopping online.  If I could use coupons to buy groceries online I absolutely would.
I am very much a fan of shopping online during the Holidays as I find the combination of crowds and two small children to be nerve racking.
I want to share with you some of my tips to make the most of your money when shopping online
during the Holiday season.

Make a List and Make a Budget
This is a tip that really goes without saying.  At this point in the year you probably have a pretty good idea
who you need to buy for and about how much money you want to spend.
This really needs to be a written(or typed) list, not just a mental note.
Think about it like a grocery list, you tend to spend less and be less impulsive if you have a list with you.
Start at the top with children or spouse and work your way down.
Don't forget about teachers, coaches or others you may want to buy a small gift for outside of your family.
You can end up impulse buying and going way over budget if you save these purchases until the last minute.


Comparison Shopping
There are so many ways to comparison shop online.
You can Google an item, use Swagbucks and earn points when you search for items,
you can also use one of the price comparison sites out there like BizRate, NexTag or PriceGrabber.
These sites search online merchants for the item you are looking for and list where to buy it and how much it is. 
The best thing to do is have your list with you while doing this and jot down the price and where it is because next you will want to check for coupon codes and free shipping offers.

Shipping
Here is what I think is the biggest concern with online shopping -
How much will I pay to have this shipped to me?
Unless I am getting an item for free, I will very rarely be willing to pay shipping.
There are a few ways around it.   You are already reading the blogs so you are in the right place to find about free shipping offers and discount codes and we will keep them coming.

Amazon.com this year is offering a free 3 month membership to Amazon Mom,
you can sign up HERE and get 3 months of free 2-day shipping on any item sold by Amazon, and you do not have a minimum spending requirement.

Target.com offers Daily Deals that change each day, all of these deals offer free shipping.
Even if you do not get a Daily Deal, you can get free shipping on most orders over $50.

Walmart.com has free Site-to-Store shipping on most items they sell,
you will have to go get it from the store but Walmart is not usually too far of a drive for any of us.

Another site that I am super excited about is FreeShippingDay.com.
On Friday December 17th over 1,000 online retailers (and the number is still growing)
are offering free shipping and guaranteed Christmas delivery.
You can go HERE to see the participating merchants.

Discount Codes
Here is the part I love.
Hopefully you have already planned your free shipping attack,
next you want to see if you can get the price down a little.
I love, love, love Retail Me Not.
If there is a discount code out there, chances are they will have it listed,
even if all you want to do is order a pizza online.
Another way to get discount codes is to sign up for a retailers email updates.
Often after you register they will email you a code for free shipping or a certain percentage off.
These codes are usually unique so you will not find them anywhere else.

Another site that I also sing the praises of on a daily basis is Ebates.
Ebates is teamed up with more merchants than I can count and they offer not only Ebates exclusive discounts and promotions but you also get cash back on your purchases...anywhere from 1% up to 30%
If you do not see a merchant listed on Ebates, you can also try Shop At Home
Shop At Home is the same as Ebates, one is not any better than the other I am just an old Ebates girl.
When you sign up for either site you will get $5 in your account just for registering.

Other Gifting Options
This is one suggestion that may or may not be a viable option for the person you are buying a gift for.
I have been so excited this year to see all of the Group Buying and Daily Deal sites take off.
I have saved so much money on dining out, online merchants and local services by using these sites.
If you are buying for a frugal friend or family member I think that these vouchers make great presents.
If you are buying for someone who is not a fan of coupons then I would skip this section.

You can use sites like Groupon, Living Social, Half Off DepotEversave, Jasmere or
Flutter Today(Knoxville Only) to buy restaurant vouchers, trips to the spa, national retailer vouchers and vouchers to specialty sites and stores.  You can purchase these vouchers or gift certificates for 50% off or more and if it is for a place that you know someone loves then you know they will actually use it and not let it sit in the closet.
It is also great for the person who says "Don't buy me anything"...we all have one :)

Cyber Monday
Last but not least, it's Cyber Monday.
This is the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend.
It is the online worlds version of Black Friday.
Yes you have to get up early for the deals, but you don't have to get dressed and freeze in a line for 3 hours.
It is still too early to know exactly what will be offered, some sites claim to know but I haven't found
anything very specific yet.
If you are looking for big ticket items then you will want to keep your eyes on the big retailers
(Target, Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, etc)
over the weekend of Thanksgiving.
You can also check out CyberMonday.com HERE, over the next week they will get some specific deals updated.
You can find your deals and still shop through Ebates or Shop At Home to get the deal and still get the cash back, you have to be quick though, the offers sell out fast.

So, the good news is that there are still plenty of shopping days until Christmas.
You have all sorts of time to shop around and find the best deal.
It may take a little extra time to shop around but the returns are well worth it.
If you buy something online and it goes on sale a week later, send an email.
99% of the time they will refund the difference.

My favorite new thing to do this year is take advantage of having a smart phone.
You can actually compare online  prices with what is in the stores while you are standing in the store.
There is an app called Christmas Shopping List (it's free), you can put in your list and budget and track it all season.  There is also Scan & Shop ($0.99), it is a bar code scanner. You can scan any bar code and Google Shopping will search for the item online and tell you where the lowest price is whether it is online or at another local store.

This is definitely the buyers year for Holiday shopping, retailers are giving big discounts and really competing for your business, whether it is in-store or online.  There is still plenty of time so don't rush to buy if you don't have to.
A little bit of planning and researching will save you big bucks over the next 6 weeks.
I am really looking forward to Couponing in Critical Times post on Holiday entertaining for less..I need help in that area.
Hopefully you will find this and the remainder of the Knox Mommies posts to be helpful.
We will all be featuring the guest posts over the next few weeks.
Check out my fellow Knoxville Gals if you have a chance

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