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Five Ways to Save Serious Money Online


If you're familiar with the "extreme couponing" craze, you'll know that there's quite a bit of work that goes into it: saving coupons, finding sales, and so on. If you'd like to save some money but you're not quite up for all that goes along with the extreme couponing lifestyle, then this article is for you. In this article, we'll hear from Alayna Frankenberry, a budgeting expert who has found five different ways to take advantage of online coupons and score the kind of bargains that most of us only dream about. We'll hear about finding coupon codes, shopping for the same thing at different sites (and possibly scoring huge savings), and finding the homemade alternative to a pricey item.

What does extreme couponing look like?

A train of shopping carts overflowing with French’s mustard. A van full of toothpaste. A basement stuffed with two-ply toilet paper. When you're an extreme couponer, this is what happens when you go to the grocery store – and it's pretty awesome. But while the rest of us may admire the dedication it takes to fill a two-car garage with free mouthwash, our shopping trips don't usually involve a forklift operator's license. Luckily, online shoppers can get a taste of discount nirvana by adopting these five online money-saving habits (no paper cuts required).

How do online coupon codes help?

Before you buy online from a major retailer, take a detour to the land of promo codes. Sites like So Not Retail allow you to search for discounts by brand or by category. If you’re in the market for video games or a new laptop and you type in “electronics,” you'll find applicable codes that save you big at the checkout.

How can a simple Web search help you find a better deal?

You've just stumbled upon a pair of shoes that you clearly can’t live without – but how can you be sure you’re getting the best price? If the shoe has defining features, search the Internet using descriptive keywords at your favorite search engine. If not, zoom in on the product photos to see if you can read the brand name, then look online to find a better deal. For example, I fell in love with Jeffrey Campbell shoes on ModCloth, and after a simple search I found them for $79 less at Urban Outfitters. That’s a huge discount, and it took less than five minutes to find!

What about those social shopping sites I'm always hearing about?

When you sign up for Groupon and LivingSocial to receive local daily deals in your inbox every morning, you'll do more than save major cash. You’ll also discover new restaurants and events, all over town. You've probably heard people talking about these sites, and no doubt you've idly wondered how they work. Well, why not go and see? For anyone who loves finding new ways to save, daily deals bring new surprises every day.

Are online rewards programs worth it?

Most online shops have a rewards system, so don’t submit an order before you have explored your options. Paying an extra $10 to reach the free shipping limit could save you $20. Yes, work those rewards the right way and you can basically score free items. Sometimes, you don’t even have to buy anything – like when you use OpenTable to make restaurant reservations. Every time you keep a reservation, you earn points that you can spend on restaurant gift cards.

Are there cheaper alternatives to designer items?

Falling in love with designer jewelry and accessories is easy. Falling in love with their price tags? Not so much. So the next time you find a designer item you adore, try searching for its homemade cousin on Etsy. Example: a white howlite bracelet retails at Neiman Marcus for $250. On Etsy you can have it for $17 – and they throw in earrings.

Is it worth it to search for good deals online?

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your spending, but you don’t have to become a career couponer to do it. All you need to do is put your online time to better use. So the next time you’re shopping online, try one of these tips. Better yet, try them all. Remember, every time you say “no” to that stack of paper coupons, you add 20 minutes to the life of a checkout girl. If you won’t do it for your wallet, do it for her.

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