I’m a huge proponent for shopping online. Not only is the process much easier than it used to be, but I don’t have to drive around looking for a store, parking, and dealing with people in the store. Then don’t even get me started on going through checkout. Have you shopped at Walmart lately? I would rather go to Walmart.com than walk in their stores.
While I can’t shop online for everything (almost thanks to Amazon!), I want to make sure I’m saving the most money I possibly can when doing so. I use a method called “stacking,” which is a pretty common practice (at least with other personal finance bloggers). This is basically a method to make sure you keep more of your money. Here is how I rock the savings stack when shopping online, or anywhere for that matter!
What is Savings Stacking?
I’m not really sure if this is the “real” term for it, but I’ve been doing it for a long time and I can’t stop now. I’m addicted!
For many, when they shop online, they just head to their favorite online store or head to Google. They search for what they want and see if it’s in stock. Others might take it one step further and compare prices using sites like Shopping.com or PriceGrabber. Once they find a good price, the savings process is stopped. Unfortunately, that’s really just the bottom stack!
Savings stacking involves bringing in multiple methods of savings. You are building a savings funnel to make sure the money you earn stays with you. The more stacks you have, the better off you will be. Here are my methods for stacking savings when online.
Block #1 – Price Comparison
To start your savings stack, you need to have the base. We will already assume you know what product you want to buy. If not, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Stacking savings doesn’t help if you have no idea what you want to purchase.
After you get an idea of the product you want, it’s time to search for the best price. This is actually quite easy to do online. Whether you just look at the multitude of sellers with the product on Amazon, find it on eBay, or go with a shopping aggregation site like mentioned above, you need to compare pricing to make sure you’re getting a deal.
Once you find the price you are willing to pay and the store you trust with your payment, then we can move to block number two!
Block #2 – Earning Cash Back
I’ve told many people about my love affair (sorry to my wife 🙂 ) with Ebates. It’s a free, cash-back site where I start my online shopping adventure each and every time.
The reason I enjoy the service so much is because they make it super easy to earn cash back. I really only have to make a few more clicks than normal to get it. Just check out how I saved 23% with a few extra clicks because of Ebates. It’s that easy!
Now, there are a number of cash back sites out there, like FatWallet or Mr. Rebates. They are all free and give you the opportunity to earn cash back on every purchase you make online. There is nothing easier. Some even have browser plug ins which allow the cash back to be activated when you are browsing an applicable store. You don’t even need to log into the cash back site. Just WOW…
Depending on the store and what you are buying, you can earn up to 40% cash back into your account. When you want the money, they will send it to you. Cash back is a beautiful thing!!
OK, we have a great price and cash back, let’s go to block three.
Block #3 – Grab those Coupons
One of the easiest ways to save money online is to use coupons. With the digital age, there are hundreds of thousands of new coupon codes online. You can find them almost anywhere.
Debt Roundup has a coupons page where we list some awesome digital coupon codes, but you can also check out sites like RetailMeNot and thousand of others.
I make sure to seek out a coupon code (if the retailer allows them) before I go through with a purchase. You never know what you might find and I’ve saved a lot of money that way.
PS. Did you know Amazon has instant-clip coupons?
Make sure to take a few extra minute to look for applicable coupon codes for your purchase. There are so many stores that offer them and you don’t want to waste the savings opportunity!
There are even browser add-ins to pull up any applicable coupons for the store your visiting. It’s almost full-proof. You really just shop and ensure you’re saving by using these.
Block #4 – Pay with a Cash Back Credit Card
Yes, I used to be in a lot of credit card debt, but I’m a reformed spender. Actually, I’m really a saver who spends some here and there. Credit cards don’t scare me and I’ve been able to handle myself right (minus one snafu) since I paid off my cards almost four years ago.
There are a number of reasons I like to pay with a credit card, but it really boils down to two things. I like the security and the rewards. If you have a high credit score (here’s how you can get one), then you get the ability to earn rewards on your purchases.
Before you jump around and say the rewards don’t outweigh the interest, I will say that’s right! People who succeed with credit card rewards are those who don’t let their balances grow beyond what they can pay. If you pay off your cards each month, then you don’t have interest accruing. It’s a pretty simple process. You should ONLY do this if you can pay off your balance every month. Playing the credit card rewards game is stupid if you don’t follow this simple rule.
Anyway, when I’m going through the checkout, I use one of two credit cards. One gives me travel points on every purchase (I’m a fan of this card). It’s not cash back, but travel rewards can be lucrative. The other gives me cash back, but it can be more depending on where I’m shopping. My Upromise credit card can offer me a 5% cash back opportunity if the site I’m shopping at is a member. This enables me to push my cash backup if I combine Upromise.com and the Upromise card.
If the store isn’t a member, then I will probably just use Ebates instead and then use my travel rewards card as my fall back.
That’s My Savings Stack!
There you have it friends. That’s how I stack savings when shopping online. Depending on where I’m shopping, I can add to the stack by finding alternatives or used products (think Amazon warehouse deals).
When I’m on a stacking roll, I can easily save up to 30% off the price I would have normally paid. Sometimes you don’t save much at all, but those are few and far between. Stores want you to shop with them, so they offer discounts. Really, these discounts are offered to be competitive, but also because their prices are already high. I almost never pay retail and haven’t paid for shipping in some time either. Free shipping is almost a standard online now.
This is an easy process to keep your money in your pocket and get the items you want. Stacking is easy and doesn’t take too much time. I would recommend you try it out!
Have you ever “stacked” savings before? Any other tips out there?
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, a good credit score can affect your ability to get a job, a place to live, and will save you money whenever you need to borrow. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get yours free at Credit Sesame. It’s 100% free with no credit card required to signup. I’ve been using it for years to monitor my credit score.