So you want to save a bit of money and never leave your living room (actually, you have to walk to the door to get your packages). Well, aren’t you picky? You just want your cake and you want to eat it too! That’s perfectly fine. With all the new breakthroughs in shipping and with package delivery times steadily declining, you’ll soon be ordering groceries online (if you aren’t already) along with everything else. They already have apps and websites that will do your grocery shopping for you at the click of a button (for a monthly/yearly fee of course). And with the recent advancements in the shipping industry with electric, driverless trucks, you can expect to see the cost of shipping come down dramatically. If you have Amazon Prime, do you even think about shipping? Probably not. The key is to be wallet conscious. There are too many options out there. With the value of advertising and the way the tech companies track up these days, we’ve targetted content shoved in our faces all day. And these advancements are merely going to make it easier to feed our need for shopping! Let me share with you a few tricks I’ve picked up over the years when shopping online for good deals.
Stay Secure, Never Buy From Unknown Sites
When you’re browsing a website for the first time, whether you came from an advertisement or by recommendation from a friend, there are a few things you can do to help stay secure.
- Always look for “https” in the website domain. HTTP stands for Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol, the “S” stands for Secure. Most modern browsers display a green lock or a security logo at the top left when you have a secure connection. This means that intruders cannot intercept your data because it’s encrypted. This creates a direct private link between you and the web server you’re dealing with. Most modern sites enable and force HTTPS by default (also called SSL – Secure Socket Layer). I never enter my credentials or personal information on a website that’s not SSL secured.
- Paypal in this day and age is a necessary evil. I’ve personally been the victim of seemingly random account closure and freezing of funds by Paypal, so why am I recommending it? It’s gotten a lot better and recently got a whole new website design and workflow. The best thing about Paypal is you enter your bank account information on one site and can use it on millions of online websites worldwide. This is great because it means you only have to trust one company to keep your information secure instead of tens or hundreds. Paypal is great for small businesses and large corporations alike.
- Research, research, research. Are you thinking about purchasing from a site you’ve never bought from before? It’s worth it to do a bit of searching. Simply entering the website name in Google will return some forum posts and article topics from angry customers if the website is a scam. Also, I’ve found this nifty tool from Norton, the popular antivirus company. That tool will let you know if the website is insecure or has any known viruses or malware. Many websites are created every single day with the sole intention of stealing your credit card information or steal your money. Always be careful. I have a prime example. My mom was shopping for Christmas gifts a few years ago when she found a great deal on Ugg boots. Not doing her research, she entered her card information and was given an expected delivery and thought nothing of it. Caught up in the chaos that follows Christmas time, she didn’t realize the boots never came until a month later. She tried to get in touch with the site’s customer support but didn’t get any response. She then Google’d the website and saw many other customer complaints, all saying they had the same exact experience. This website was a complete scam and never had any intentions on delivering the goods. Luckily my mom was able to get a refund from her card company, but this could have all been avoided if she had simply done her research up front. Don’t forget the old cardinal rule, if a deal is too good to be true, then it’s probably not true.
Enough Nonsense, Give Me The Deals!
You’re now bored to death with my ‘staying secure on the web, 101’ spiel. I hope that resonates with you, it’s no fun when someone online gains control of your credit card or email address.
- RetailMeNot – this is an amazing site and you should probably bookmark it. It boasts 500,000 active coupons at over 50,000 stores worldwide. It specializes in online promo and coupon codes. You’d be amazed at what you could’ve saved over the years if you only had this site available at any time. They have printable coupons you can take to the retail store as well as digital coupons you can pull up on your smartphone at any time. I use this every time I go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I can always find a 40% off coupon code to both of those stores. I usually don’t even think about until I’m walking to the register to check out. I whip out my phone and search RetailMeNot for the store and boom, 40 – 50% off!
- Slickdeals – Oh man, where do I start. I LOVE Slickdeals. I have it bookmarked and check it at least once a day. The deals are submitted by the community and upvoted by other members of the site. This helps keep the most popular and best deals on the front page so you see them on the front page. They seem to specialize in electronics and gaming related stuff, but they have a little bit of everything from Christmas trees to lawn chairs. The list is never the same, so you have to check back often to find the latest deals. they are pretty quick to take down any coupons that don’t work or have expired.
- Amazon Prime is pretty much a necessity these days. With free 2-day shipping and all the deals you can get, it’s hard to beat. $99 is tough to cough up once a year, but it’s worth that and then some, especially around the holidays. It comes with Amazon Video which is their version of Netflix where you can stream tons of movies and shows. It also comes with a music streaming service, similar to Spotify, but not as good in my opinion. If you have an Amazon Kindle you also get access to tons of free Kindle eBooks. And if you’re interested in gaming you can get free Twitch Prime, which is a video game streaming service where you watch others play games.
- Brad’s Deals – They have some pretty neat deals. I personally prefer Slickdeals, but it depends on what you’re interested in. It doesn’t hurt to bookmark both. The website is modern and easy to navigate, but they don’t have the community involvement. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s worth it to stop by Brad’s Deals to see what offers they have.
- Wish – Wish started as a smartphone application, but they also have a pretty full-featured website. Most of the items on Wish are lower quality and come directly from China, so they take up to 30 days to arrive at your doorstep. If I’m shopping for quality or name brand goods I’ll skip over Wish, but if I just need something temporary or for cheap I’ll give wish a shot. You can find really good deals on almost anything. I’ve found nice watches for under $10 shipped as well as toys for the kids for under $5. The shipping takes so long I usually forget I ordered them and am pleasantly surprised when I find a sweet package in the mail with Chinese letters all over it.
Well, that about wraps up my knowledge of finding steals online. I hope this can save you a few bucks. Remember, be safe and stay secure. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it (unless your wife says it’s ok, then go ahead and get it). Please let me know of any sites I may have missed or don’t know about in the comments below. I’ll keep this post updated as they roll in.