I like shopping online - it's easy to do, secure (pretty much all credit cards have online protection guarantee and unless you're shopping in shady online places, you're very safe), and best of all - no driving to the mall or shop! You simply can't beat the selection of products available online and the prices are usually much cheaper given online stores' lower overhead cost. You'd have to pay shipping most of the time, but think of all the gas and time you're saving.
But how can you make online shopping better? How about with online coupons: many stores have "coupon code" or "promo code" during checkout that will give you discounts, free shipping and even free goodies. Given the highly competitive nature of ecommerce, these coupons can be very, very good.
The problem is how do you find these coupons? Most online stores give them to existing their customers to promote return business, but that doesn't mean that you'd have to buy something first to get a better deal later.
With a little legwork (fingerwork?) you can save a lot with online coupons. Simply go to these "coupon aggregator" websites:
You can browse by merchant and categories in CurrentCodes.com, though it's best if you know exactly what you're looking for. For example, selecting coupons for computers bring up hundreds of available coupons, which will take quite a bit of time to sort through.
If you know what you're looking for, say a specific product, then it's easy to find the keyword using your browser's search capability (CTRL-F for Firefox, CMD-F if you're using a Mac)
Guy King, the founder of BugMeNot, an online repository of username and passwords to bypass registration on otherwise free websites, started another venture in 2006 called RetailMeNot. The website lets users post and retrieve web coupons from 40,000 stores.
While a lot of online coupon sites concentrate on US retailers and etailers, RetailMeNot lets you browse for coupons from retailers in UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, France, and the Netherlands.
FatWallet.com was started in 1999 by Tim Storm as a single page listing coupons for a handful of retailers. I suppose it resonated with cheapskates everywhere since it has since grown to be one of the largest websites on the Net!
- Ask Deal
Ask Deal is a new service by Ask.com, aiming to become the premiere search engine for deals, coupons, bargains, and sales. Ask.com doesn't host the coupons themselves - instead, they aggregate such information from the websites above and many others. You can even find local coupons in your area (by zip codes).
Bonus: Black Friday
There's shopping and then there's Black Friday shopping. In the United States, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. Competition is cutthroat and therefore retailers offer unusually good doorbuster and loss leader deals to draw people to their stores.
If you don't mind waking up really early in the morning, standing in line for hours before the store open, and jostling with hundreds of people for a few select products, then shopping on a Black Friday can save you a lot (and I mean a lot) of money. But keep the kids at home - people have literally been crushed and trampled to death by shoppers desperate for cheap goods.