You may be thinking: How can I save money by shopping online when I have to pay for shipping? Think again—numerous online shopping sites help you save money vs. shopping in stores. Many of these sites offer items at a discount because the online retailers don't have to pay store management, staff, or other overhead and operating costs.
Here are sites you can use to navigate the online shopping world.
comparison shopping sites
Many websites specialize in helping you find the lowest price, saving you both time and money. Just type in what you want to buy, and the site shows you where you can buy it and what it will cost. Try these:
- Bizrate.com lets you search by category to find the best deal for a certain item. Click on the "Coupons and Deals" tab to find soon-to-expire deals at popular department stores.
- Shopzilla.com, which also operates Bizrate, is one of the largest online shopping networks. It compiles the best deals from various vendors for everything from patio furniture to computers.
- Shopping.com compiles the best deals on items from popular online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. You can browse the different categories and sort by price.
- Sign up for e-mails from your favorite stores.Click on the "Shopping" icon on the Yahoo! home page to enter shopping.yahoo.com. This site allows you to compare prices on items by retailer. Yahoo! Shopping also offers articles and shows the latest deals from different vendors.
- Overstock.com lets you compare prices for items from different retailers. You can find anything from home supplies to cars to the best real estate prices in your area. Overstock also hosts auctions where you can bid for items online, and offers promotions like clearance items and shipping deals.
- Dealio.com lets you compare prices; it also offers coupons and shows you the best deals at popular stores.
Online markets offer thousands of products from various sellers. They are great sites to use when you know exactly what you want to buy.
- Ebay.com is primarily an auction site that allows buyers and sellers to trade virtually anything. Bid on items or take advantage of the "Buy It Now" option, which allows you to purchase some items at a fixed price. This site also offers daily deals and shows you classifieds in your area.
- Amazon.com is one of the largest online retailers, selling everything from books to gourmet food to furniture. The Amazon Marketplace offers both new and used items.
- On Etsy.com, you can buy or sell handmade goods, commercial or handmade crafting supplies, or vintage items 20 years old or older.
smart online shopping
Now that you have a tool belt full of helpful sites, here are three tips to follow when shopping online:
- Collect coupons—Sign up for e-mails from your favorite stores, collect coupons for things you might buy, or sign up for affiliate programs from places you frequently shop.
- Wait for sales—Stores host sales from time to time that could end up saving you money if you wait for them. Promotions like free shipping are well worth the wait. Also, don't wait until the last minute to buy what you want; scan online sites daily to keep track of deals to ensure you get the best price.
- Sign up for rewards programs—Rewards programs can offer big savings. For example, MyPoints.com gives you 10 points to a dollar for shopping at places like Target, Overstock.com, or Barnes & Noble. You also can join free-shipping clubs, where you pay to join and then receive exclusive coupons and discounts, as well as free or reduced shipping.
other helpful sites
These sites are not necessarily online shopping sites, but they offer helpful shopping tips, in-store promotions, and coupons you can use in popular stores:
- Don't buy anything until you've visited FreeShipping.org. The site offers free shipping codes to many stores. It also provides price comparisons powered by PriceGrabber.com.
- RetailMeNot.com gives you printable in-store coupons for popular stores, as well as grocery coupons.
- Join Ebates.com to earn cash back on online purchases from popular retailers.
- SecretPrices.com shows you the top promotions going on at various stores, and it offers current promotional coupons.
- GasBuddy.com directs you to the best gas prices in your area.
- Kayak.com lets you compare prices on popular travel sites like Hotwire.com and Expedia.com all at once. Just type in where you're going and the site will compile the best deals on hotels, flights, and transportation.