10 Money Saving Tips For Holiday Shoppers

Category: Finance

In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people will purchase something online. Online sales will total $3.5 trillion dollars worldwide, up more than 21% from the previous year. As online sales have soared, a number of tools have emerged to help consumers find the best deals. Shopping online for Christmas, Hanukkah (or any time of year) is easy and convenient, but when you use the right tools, you can also save a lot of cash. Here are some money-saving tips for the smart online shopper...

Try These Online Shopping Tools

Shopping online is a two-step process; first, find the product you want, and then find the best price for it. A lot of factors may come into play, including sales tax, shipping fees, and the availability of discount coupon codes. Here are three nifty tools that will try to help you get the lowest price when shopping online…

TIP #1: Look for rebates and rewards BEFORE you shop. Loyalty programs such as Rakuten (formerly called Ebates) offer shoppers rebates and other incentives to purchase from stores where they already shop. Rakuten offers up to 25% in cash rebates when you shop online at popular stores like Amazon, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kohls, Macy's, Old Navy, Target and 1000 more. This week, you'll get double cash back on Pre-Black Friday Deals. Even better, Rakuten will pay you $10 when you open a new Ebates account and spend $25 or more at your favorite store. It's a win-win-win-win... Rakuten is free to join. You get a $10 gift card. And you get paid to shop!

TIP #2: An Amazon Prime membership may save you money. If you use Amazon.com frequently, that $129 flat fee gets you unlimited free, 2-day shipping on products delivered by Amazon. If you haven’t been to Amazon lately, it’s no longer just a bookstore. Amazon also offers music, movies, electronics, home & garden, health & beauty, toys, clothing shoes & jewelry, sporting and outdoor goods -- just to name a few categories. Also, take note of the prices offered by Amazon affiliates on both new and used items; they are sometimes lower than Amazon’s price. Amazon is also a great shopping research tool. After searching for the item (or type of item) you’re after, Amazon will help you compare brands, prices, and retailers. You can also see what items and accessories other customers bought.

TIP #3: But the truth is that free shipping isn't always free, and Amazon's price for a given item is not guaranteed to be the lowest. WikiBuy tries to solve those problems by finding discount coupons, and shopping around for the seller with the lowest price, factoring in discounts, sales tax, and shipping charges. It even helps you compare shipping dates and estimated delivery times of multiple sellers.

Save money with online shopping tools

WikiBuy is “an unbiased source you can trust before you buy - powered by the community,” according to its own description in the Google Chrome store. WikiBuy extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox browsers. It runs automatically when you shop at Amazon, and pops up offers from other sources when a lower price is found. At other shopping sites, Wikibuy will offer to try all known discount codes on the checkout page. WikiBuy members also earn loyalty rewards from participating sellers, including Macy's Walmart, eBay, and Needless Markup – er, Nieman Marcus. Rewards are applied automatically when you buy from a participating seller.

TIP #4: Similarly, Honey automatically finds coupon codes for you while you are shopping. Just register at Honey’s site and install the browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. Then, when you add an item to a site’s shopping cart, click the Honey icon to display the coupon code that saves you the most money (or learn that no coupons are available). I tried the Honey extension for desktop Chrome. But I found that this thing tries too hard to become my one and only shopping assistant, which is sometimes annoying. An animated “happy guy” pops up at inconvenient times, obscuring information I would rather see. Honey, I don’t want to be your friend; just do your job and stay out of my way. That said, over 100,000 of the 17 million users Honey claims have left mostly positive reviews. The coupon codes provided by Honey work most of the time and save users considerable amounts of money. PayPal recently acquired Honey for $4 billion, so obviously they think it has value.

TIP #5: The Camelizer extension shows price histories on Amazon. It provides a shortcut to the CamelCamelCamel database of historical prices, presenting charts that show how the price of an item has varied over time. Amazon prices, along with new and used Marketplace sellers’ prices are plotted on a single graph. At a glance, you can see the volatility of an item’s price and which sales channel you should choose. If an item’s price is pretty stable, you may as well buy it now. But if it has fluctuated significantly in the past, you may want to set a future date on which to check the price again. The Camelizer accommodates these options. The Camelizer works with a slew of national retailers, and is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Internet Explorer and Edge users can use a bookmarklet in lieu of the Camelizer browser extension.

TIP #6: Use price-comparison sites to find the best deals. Google Shopping is a good place to start. Just type in what you’re seeking, such as "60 inch HDTV" or "cordless drills" and up pops an assortment of vendors. The initial results are displayed sorted by "relevancy" but I recommend that you re-sort them by price from low to high.

TIP #7: Before you buy, look for coupons that can reduce your final price. RetailMeNot has thousands of digital coupons and discount codes from many well-known and obscure online sellers. A little known trick is to use Google’s search function to find coupon codes buried on blog pages. Just use "coupon" and the name of the brand, merchant, or product that you are seeking as your search term.

TIP #8: Don’t forget eBay, especially if the item you seek is a staple rather than a fad of the moment. Because it's an auction site, the price you pay items (both new and used) tend to be very reasonable. And if you prefer to skip the drama of a bidding war, look for an item with a "Buy it Now" option. Oh, and here are two eBay Ninja tricks that’ll save you money every time. First, start your search at the eBay home page. When you get the list of matching items, refine your search by checking the "Completed listings" box under the "Show Only" header This will tell you what the item has actually sold for in recent eBay sales or auctions. And second, use BidRobot to boost your chances of winning the auction.

TIP #9: Take advantage of group buying power. Group-buying services such as Groupon are geared mainly towards local, face-to-face merchants. But Groupon has inspired a slew of "daily deal" offers from many online sellers, too. Subscribe to email lists to receive special limited time offers from your favorite stores.

TIP #10: Skip the Warranty Are you buying a mobile phone, tablet, computer or TV? Read [SCAM ALERT] Gadget Insurance and Extended Warranties to find out why these are almost always a waste of money.

BONUS TIP: The Wisdom of Others It's smart to take advantage of the experience of others, especially when it comes to considering big-ticket purchases. Sites like TrustPilot and Bizrate offer actual consumer experiences and reviews of products. Consumer Reports and PC Magazine are also good places to look for professional ratings and reviews.

Do you use these or other tools to save when shopping online? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "10 Money Saving Tips For Holiday Shoppers"

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

I installed the WikiBuy extension in Chrome, and it does find better deals when you are shopping in Amazon and if you are focusing strictly on the price of the product, but there are other considerations that have to be taken into account (taxes, shipping costs, what vendor the product is being purchased from,etc). So far, I have found that the only “deals” are through some vendor on eBay. Unfortunately, I really don't trust eBay and will gladly pay a few dollars more to purchase the same product through Amazon instead.

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
27 Nov 2019

And if you use Paypal to pay for your purchase, unless you already know the seller, do NOT use Paypal "Friends and family" option, even if the seller asks you to.
This option has the benefit of no fee being charged, but the counterpart is that you then have no recourse through Paypal if your purchase never turns up, is not what you had ordered, is defective, etc.

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

I tried to install Wikibuy on Safari on my iPad, but it says it only works on Mac. I have a PC laptop but when traveling I only use iPad

Posted by:

Hardie Johnson
27 Nov 2019

Shop.com offers discounts and cash back. It is worth checking into since it is free and installs in your browser to find lowest prices.

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

# 10 We concur. Warranties used to be worth buying but no more.

Three years ago my son camped outside Walmart for two days in the cold and snow to get an amazing deal on a large TV, which was discounted by 70%.

We bought the warranty.

The TV stopped working in year two and they valued the warranty at the super low price we had paid.

They refused to give us a Gift Card to put toward a new TV with the features we wanted. They told us our only option was either walk away with nothing or accept a TV of "similar cost".

They shipped a real piece of junk TV with absolutely no features, that was selling at Walmart, at full price, for way less than the price we had paid for our discounted TV.

No more warranties for us.

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

Best Buy sell open box electronics at their eBay Store at super discounted prices.

We have always been happy with our open box purchases from them.

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

Re: #10...I should clarify my post about warranties. It was not Walmart itself that we dealt with, but a third party warranty company that is quite likely to provide their product to many companies.

Warranty buyer beware!

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

Yes, Best Buy CAN give great discounts on "open box" items.... BECAUSE they have ABUSIVE "restocking fees" I recently bought an on sale Blu phone for $52 but it wasn't the 2GB model the salesperson said it was, so I took it back the same day to exchange it for one with 2GB. Imagine my SURPRISE when they said that I would have to pay a $45 (that's Forty-Five US dollars) restocking fee to either return it or exchange for a different model. Return the $52 phone and walk out with $7 or just keep it and NEVER go back to Best Buy, ever in my life!

Posted by:

27 Nov 2019

RE: warranties....consider the item and the user in your decision. If you are buying an iPhone for a 20something, the AppleCare+ is probably worth it (at least, it has been in my experience, with a son who eschews phone cases and screen protectors!) I should have bought AppleCare+ for my MacBook Pro that developed 2 design failures about 2 years in, and Apple refused to do a thing. I ended up having to buy a new laptop that would have been fixed for a small amount if I had the coverage.

But, TVs are so inexpensive these days, it doesn't pay to insure them, same with vacuum cleaners, etc.

Happy shopping!

Posted by:

30 Nov 2019

Another BEWARE, particularly with AMAZON and EBay--Fraudulent Knockoffs & methods of payment. Go to oYVO.org/theagenda and read/listen to the first item for Nov.29!!!. TVO is TV ONTARIO. For Canadians at least the safest payment options is CREDIT CARD= Visa/Mastercard-- not PAYpal.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2019

my bad. The link should have been TVO.org sorry about that

Posted by:

02 Dec 2019

I'm concerned about that comment about PayPal.
I assumed that since PayPal uses one of my credit cards to make the payment, that I would have the coverage of the credit card plus whatever coverage PayPal provides.
Am I mistaken?

Posted by:

02 Dec 2019

Walt: I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that PayPal itself offers buyer protection. So does ebay, and ostensibly Amazon - I've had to use both PayPal and ebay's protections before with positive outcomes; I've never had to use Amazon's, but it does concern me to see the sheer number of comments on their website from people who claim that they were unable to get their promised protections honored.

As an aside: this is why I won't use Rakuten - I've used them to shop before, and when a seller sent me a different item than what was in his listing, Rakuten basically told me "tough - it's between you and the seller". That's fine for craigslist, but if you're making money off of the transactions, you'd better be providing some sort of assurance that both parties are going to get what's agreed upon.

Posted by:

03 Dec 2019

Thanks Karena!

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