We know it’s tough to resist a good sale. What’s even tougher? Seeing something you already bought … for a better price somewhere else. This winter shopping season, we’re going to help you stay within your holiday budget and avoid the disappointment of a missing out on a good (sale) opportunity. Instead of choosing to spend more money or spending more time in front of the screen, try out these tactics for pinpointing the best online deals in a pinch.
1. Download a browser extension.
Instead of spending hours hopping from site to site comparing deals or combing through your email for non-expired coupon codes, download a browser extension to do all the tedious work for you. They’re easy to use and you have tons of options to choose from. Popular extensions include Honey, Rakuten Cash Back Button, Fakespot, The Camelizer, InvisibleHand, and Ibotta.
Some scan your cart at checkout for any relevant discount codes, others let you know if you can find a better deal elsewhere. You can even get extensions that help you earn cash back, identify fake product reviews, find Amazon’s best deals of the day, or scan a product’s price history to identify the best time to make the purchase. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this tool is sure to be a time (and money) saver.
2. Give Google Shopping a try.
As Google ramps up its e-commerce abilities, you can now easily compare items from several retailers in one spot. All you have to do is head to Google’s “Shopping” tab and search the item you want to buy to see a myriad of options. You can sort by price, popularity, brand, and more. It’s a simple way to get a bird’s eye view of what’s out there and narrow down your options to the best prices available.
3. Find a price match guarantee.
Many big-box retailers, like Target or Walmart, department stores like Nordstrom, and digital retailers like Overstock, have price match policies to help ensure you are getting competitive pricing. That typically means if you see an item listed for a discounted price somewhere else, these stores will lower their price to match. And if you buy an item, only to see it on sale the next day, some price match policies allow you to request a refund for the difference in price. Always check for a price match policy, and if you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
4. Skip shipping costs, buy local.
Let’s be honest. We’ve all added one more (often unnecessary) item to our digital shopping cart just to hit a seller’s free shipping threshold. But while free shipping may sound like an enticing discount, it isn’t always the money saver it masquerades as. If you want to cut costs, look for options that let you buy online and pick up in store. Even better, see if any nearby small businesses sell what you’re looking for so you can skip the shipping and support your local community.
5. Use your email to your advantage.
If your heart is set on a specific purchase, but you can’t find a deal anywhere (even with a browser extension), look for rewards or membership programs that offer discounts. Many times, retailers will give you a 10 to 25% discount on your first purchase just for signing up.
Added bonus: In addition to the initial discount, you’ll likely get specialized, members-only sales and discount codes periodically sent right to your inbox.
6. Go digital, stay personal.
Online shopping will be a go-to for most of this holiday season. But just because you’re purchasing digitally, it doesn’t mean that you can’t add a personal touch to your gifts. If you buy online and ship your gift directly to someone, many stores allow you to write a short note to the receiver. And if you are holiday shopping for a loved one far away, consider ordering their gift from a local favorite shop of theirs, rather than a big-box retailer or Amazon. These are simple ways to add a little extra thought to presents you won’t actually get to see in person or send yourself.
If you’re ordering gifts online for friends and family who you’ll see this season, opt to skip the generic store gift wrapping and do it yourself. The gesture of taking the time to wrap a gift, as well as adding your personal flair through wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons, is sure to be recognized. (Not to mention, you’ll probably save some cash on those extra gift-wrapping fees.)
The internet has just about any holiday gift you could want to shop for this season — but with all the options, wide price ranges, and fluctuating discounts, it’s enough to give anyone online shopping fatigue. Use these tips to find the best online deals so you can shop smart, not hard, and enjoy the season for all it’s worth (and skip the holiday spending hangover).
Organize your holiday budget the smart way, by using Ally Bank’s savings buckets, courtesy of our Online Savings Account.