When Shopping Online, Think and Save Outside The Box

I am a big fan of saving money when I make purchases.  I don’t like paying retail and I really don’t like paying for shipping online.  I make it part of my checkout process to find a coupon or promo code in order to bring down the bill total.  When I am shopping for goodies, I first check Amazon, because I am part of the Amazon Prime program.  Who doesn’t love free two day shipping?  Yes, I know that I pay yearly for the program, but I also use Amazon Instant Video and I make a good amount of purchases via Amazon, so it pays for itself.  I did the math.

After I got out of credit card debt, I decided to look at different ways to score some savings when shopping online.  I don’t care if it is a one-time deal, a money savings program, or sweet coupon database.  I will try and find neat ways to save money when I am doing my shopping.  I get irritated when I pay retail price and I think it is unnecessary.  Recently, I have looked into a few different ways in order to save some serious dough with online purchases.  Here are some that I think are promising and I am sure you are using a few of them.

  • discount gift cards

    Courtesy of

    Discounted Gift Cards – Who doesn’t love getting a gift card?  I know I really enjoy getting them because they allow me to purchase things that I really want.  I don’t like wasted money on gifts.  Sometimes I don’t know what I want, so I would like a gift card.  Gift cards are what I usually gift to others because they are so simple, yet can really provide the best value.  As stated above, why should you pay retail for a gift card?  Yes, you can go walk into a store and purchase a gift card, but why not jump online and save 20% when buying the card?  I would recommend trying for discounted gift cards.  They have the largest marketplace, where you can buy and sell gift cards.

  • Groupon Daily dealDaily Deal Sites – We all know these as they have grown in popularity since Groupon and Living Social came onto the scene.  Daily deals can be a great way to save 50% on something that you want.  Now, not everything on a daily deal site is going to be something that you want, so you will need to practice patience here.  I would recommend signing up for deal alerts, so you can score the best deal on items or services you are actually looking for.  One tip is to not sign up for too many daily deal sites.  That can end up creating a lot of junk mail in your inbox and no one likes that.  Just pick some of your favorite daily deal sites and sign up for those alerts.
  • penny auctions

    Courtesy of

    Penny Auctions – Penny auctions are relatively new to the auction scene.  eBay pioneered the online auction, but since then, there have been many different variations of auctions.  Penny auctions are the current rage in the online space at this time.  If you haven’t tried it before, you can really score some serious deals.  You have to be vigilant of the auction process as it is a pay-to-play type of auction.  You pay in order to bid and then you have to pay for the item, but you can get some stuff at a serious discount.  I have pulled off a few where I saved about 75%.  Now, that is a win to me and the product was legitimate.  One tip here is that you need to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate website.  You don’t want to deal with trying to purchase fake products because there is no fun in that.

These are the few ways that I am working with to save with my online shopping.  Yes, I do still love my coupons, but I wanted to think outside of the box and try a few other things.  I am on a discount gift card kick right now and I am enjoying the savings.

What unorthodox or different ways are you saving money when shopping online?

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Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.


  1. July 3, 2013 at 6:59 am — Reply

    I would love to buy more stuff from amazon, but other than books it is just too expensive when compared to local sites in Australia.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:35 am — Reply

      I am sure that you won’t save much with Amazon compared to the local sites. The shipping has got to be too much.

  2. July 3, 2013 at 7:03 am — Reply

    Daily deal sites are big for me, though you have to learn to resist the urge to buy things you don’t need. If you have a list of things in mind that you will buy eventually anyway, it can really save you money! I saved over $100 on a closet wardrobe for our guest bedroom by waiting until Brad’s Deals posted a really good deal on one.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:36 am — Reply

      You really do have to be careful. I don’t really look at all of the emails because some can be enticing.

  3. July 3, 2013 at 7:46 am — Reply

    We also like to buy stuff off of Amazon, but right now we just don’t buy enough to justify the Amazon Prime charge. However, I love the idea of discounted gift cards! I”m gonna have to try that STAT!

    • Tara
      July 3, 2013 at 10:04 am — Reply

      I don’t have Amazon Prime either but my brother does and he lives locally so I can mooch off of his account. 😉 I will add though that for some people, the Amazon Prime account is worth it just for the access to the TV shows alone. It’s become better than Hulu and almost a competitor for Netflix. Amazon got exclusive rights to air Under the Dome and it’s free if you have Amazon Prime.

      • July 5, 2013 at 10:37 am — Reply

        I am with you on that Tara. This can really be great for some.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:37 am — Reply

      I love me some Amazon Prime, but you have to justify it. I can because I use Prime to watch movies, but I also make a lot of purchases via Amazon.

  4. July 3, 2013 at 8:29 am — Reply

    I always try and look for coupon codes. A lot of the time when we are buying something online, it is a big purchase (such as a car part) and there are almost always coupons for 10% off.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:38 am — Reply

      Coupon codes are a must, but I also like the other ways of saving money.

  5. July 3, 2013 at 8:30 am — Reply

    Like Holly, we’ve not taken the plunge into going with Amazon Prime yet. I can’t justify the cost on it right now. I always wish we had it come Christmas time, but other than that are pretty limited on the spending there. I will have to check out the discounted gift cards though, that’s a hard deal to beat.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:39 am — Reply

      It is not for everyone, but I think you will enjoy the discounted gift cards.

  6. July 3, 2013 at 8:31 am — Reply

    I usually buy gift cards at my supermarket because they offer 4x fuel points. So a single $25 gift card will save me about a dollar and a half at the pump.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:39 am — Reply

      Nice work Edward. I have done that a few times.

  7. July 3, 2013 at 8:42 am — Reply

    I used to get the groupon daily emails, but I honestly found it more annoying to have to look through and delete them each day than I found it useful. I do check those sites out around the holidays though, as they can definitely offer some great deals.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:40 am — Reply

      They can really be a PITA if you get too many.

  8. July 3, 2013 at 8:46 am — Reply

    I looked at Groupon but never got into it. The gift card site sounds like a great deal. I’m gonna bookmark that one. Thanks Grayson!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am — Reply

      Glad I can provide something new for you Brian.

  9. July 3, 2013 at 9:18 am — Reply

    I second that comment about the penny auctions. I’ve read so many scams in that arena that it’s hard to know which sites to trust. Do your homework!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am — Reply

      You really have to do your homework, but if you find the right one, it can be a real winner.

  10. July 3, 2013 at 10:51 am — Reply

    I have tried penny auctions but always for high demand items, like computers, and never won :(. There has to be a few great deals, just never managed to find them!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:42 am — Reply

      When you are dealing with high demand items, you will almost always lose out. I don’t do penny auctions for anything in high demand.

  11. July 3, 2013 at 11:44 am — Reply

    I forgot to cancel our Amazon Prime trial so we ended up paying for the year. I haven’t really done the math to see if it’s really benefited us. We don’t use the instant video that much but we do make a lot of Amazon purchases.

    I was recently introduced to this website, I’ve never used it but it sounds like another interesting way to save money on items.

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:43 am — Reply

      Thanks for the link, I will have to check that out. Sorry about your Amazon trial, but if you make a good amount of purchases, then you can cover the cost soon enough.

  12. July 3, 2013 at 11:55 am — Reply

    We are amazon prime members, and we get our moneys worth. I didn’t know about the gift card site. Thanks!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:43 am — Reply

      Glad to hear about Amazon Prime working for you and hopefully the gift card site will be a good resource.

  13. July 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm — Reply

    Whenever I shop online I search Google for coupons. Usually I’ll just find a free shipping coupon. I’ve never looked into Groupon or Living Social, but I wouldn’t mind signing up for the daily deals!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:43 am — Reply

      I do the same thing. Coupons are a must when shopping online.

  14. July 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm — Reply

    ” I did the math.” LOL! Of course, you did! I’m a prime member too and I love it. (and yes, I did the math too!) I admit that I’m not a big coupon cutter but I always look for coupon codes when I shop online. I think it’s the ease of doing a quick search. I do buy a fair amount of gift cards and need to start buying them at a discount. I got in the habit of just picking them up at the store but what a great way to save a few extra dollars. Happy 4th of July!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:44 am — Reply

      Well, I just wanted to make sure that people knew that I did the math, so they wouldn’t have to say it in a comment. I am not a big coupon cutter either, but online coupons are so easy.

  15. Rita P @Digital Spikes Frugal tips
    July 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    I love amazon. Earlier I use to shop on Ebay but I find Amazon better and secure. I am big coupon fan and always make sure to search around on net to find good deals and discounts when I want to shop online. Amazon prime provides good benefits but for now I don’t have it but plan to have

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:45 am — Reply

      I like Amazon better than eBay, but it depends on what I am looking for. I have scored some deals on eBay before, but Amazon has a better feel to it.

  16. July 3, 2013 at 6:57 pm — Reply

    Amazon prime is awesome. Tons of people use it to watch shows etc. now. I didn’t even know that was possible!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:46 am — Reply

      Oh yes, they have a pretty good catalog, but it is still far behind Netflix. They have won some good rights for shows from Netflix.

  17. July 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm — Reply

    Wise advice. I’m still trying to make it part of my process, but taking the two minutes to check for coupon codes can easily save you hundreds of dollars a year!

    • July 5, 2013 at 10:46 am — Reply

      It can really add up. I went online shopping last night for contacts and with the coupon code, using Upromise, and my credit card ,I saved over 15%.

  18. July 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    I knew vaguely about discounted gift cards but I had no idea where to look for them – thanks for the tips!

  19. thepotatohead
    July 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    I hate shipping costs as well, often they can be as much or more then the item you are purchasing, especially if its bulky. I usually try and buy used things rather then retail, so amazon, craigslist and ebay are my first stops for purchasing online as you can usually buy stuff used at a great discount.

  20. Zeeshan Naveed
    July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am — Reply

    yeah grayson, you are right. there are so many shopping sites, which offers very cheap price and we can buy any product online at low price than retail price

  21. Jenny Smith
    August 28, 2013 at 3:02 am — Reply

    Discount coupons is nice way to attract people towards online shopping. I prefer online shopping rather than walking into stores. And yes, you can choose the best deal among all available options. Great!!!

  22. September 11, 2013 at 3:23 am — Reply

    When you just cant resist buying a product and there are no disocunts on it, you can also search online and see if there are any coupon codes available for it.

    • September 11, 2013 at 9:48 am — Reply

      That is true.

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