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- Frugal Living
How to Get the Best Price Online
I am a “Research Shopper”. Now, I know you’re wondering what that means right? Well, it means that I research my purchases before I buy them. So now you’re thinking to yourself, “Well of course! Who doesn’t do that?” Well, I’m not just talking about researching cars and electronics you plan to buy or doing a quick price comparison between websites. What I’m talking about is using the tools available to you through individual retailers to get the best possible price from any online retailer for the EXACT items you want (not just what the retailer is willing to put on sale). Now, I have to warn you, this takes some time and effort. However, the fruits of your labor will be sweet! Here is the game plan from the time you first visit an online store to the point of making a purchase.
1. Pick a Store, Any Store
This method works with any store online, especially the big chain stores like Target, Macy’s and Wal-mart. I’ll use Sephora as my example as they have something for you to use in every category except coupons and store cards.
2. Join The Store’s Mailing List
By joining the mailing list you get to find out first about any upcoming or ongoing sales. Plus you may get a coupon or two.
3. Join the Club
This is different than the mailing list. The Club is whatever special program that retailer offers. For example, Sephora’s program is called VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider, don’t ask about the extra I). In Sephora’s program you’ll get invitations to special store events, discount shopping events, freebie offers, discount offers and free gift cards at the end of the year. You will not get these offers if you only join their standard mailing list. Lot of other retailers also have programs like these. Make sure you’re looking at the banners at the top and bottom of the retailer’s home page to make sure you’re aware of any special Clubs.
4. Get the Card
Now, one word of caution, this is not right for everyone, nor is it right for every store. For example, Sephora does not have a store credit card. However, if you take a store like Target you can get a “mock card” which is a store debit card that looks like a Target card but actually does not require you to open up your credit file to Target but you still get the benefits of a Target card. For other stores, like Kohl’s, you have to get their card or you can expect to pay about 20-30% for their merchandise if you don’t use their store card. And then there are others, like Nordstrom, whose card benefits are so low they're almost non-existent (you get a $20 gift card for every $1000 you spend, yes that's 3 zeros). So, depending on how good your credit score is (and your personal financial situation) and how much the card can benefit you this is a viable course for getting the best price from an individual retailer.
5. Make a Wish-list
Most retailers will allow you to create an online “wish-list” of items that you would like to have. If there’s not this option you can also create a registry and open it up to your family and friends or keep it private. The idea behind these online lists is to keep track of the price of the items you want. For Sephora I keep a pretty extensive wish-list because makeup is seasonal just like clothing and accessories. In the summer time people want self-tanner (so don’t buy that in the summer time!) and in the winter time they want moisturizer. Every few weeks I’ll check my wish-lists to see what’s on sale. If something gets to a price that looks pretty good I’ll usually snap it up. Plus by using the wish-list feature I eventually cull out items that are going to cause me Buyer’s Remorse.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Inbox
You want to make sure that you keep an eye on your email inbox. Every day you’ll get notifications from your favorite retailers about sales, coupons and free shipping offers. These emails will be the basis of finally purchasing from your favorite store. I especially like the ones where the sale doesn't require a code because then you can search the internet coupon sites (I like couponcabin.com and retailmenot.com) for additional coupons to add on to the sale. For Sephora you can usually get some kind of a freebie with a small purchase, plus you get notification of new items that are coming out.
7. Make Every Sale a Combo Sale
A Combo Sale is where you use a coupon on marked down items. A lot of times you can also get free shipping as well. For example, at Target they have a sale on furniture right now. If you buy one piece of furniture you get the second one 50% off. Plus if you buy at least $50 you get free shipping. AND THEN if you use your Target card or mock card you get an additional 5% off. Now that’s a sale!
8. Use a Rewards Site
When you finally purchase an item make sure you're stacking your rewards. Use a rewards credit card or store card and use a Rewards Site. What's a Reward's Site? It's a site that retailers pay to drive traffic to their retail sites. Some popular ones are Memolink and UPromise. Memolink gives you points per dollar that you can then exchange for gift cards or cash back. UPromise actually puts a percentage of your purchase in an account that can either pay off a current student loan or be saved towards a new student loan. I'll write a separate Hub about rewards sites. But, in order to get the most out of every purchase you should be using a Rewards Site.
These are just a few techniques that I use when trying to stretch my dollars. Hope they help you make the most out of yours too! For more information sales and unique items, please visit my blog at: http://theangryshopper.blogspot.com/.