Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Saving Money on Christmas Shopping

With Christmas just around the corner and Christmas shopping getting underway, I thought I might share some of my favorite money saving tips. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but since trolling freebie forums and deal websites is a daily hobby of mine, I feel that I have something to offer. Even if only one person manages to make use of information from my blog, I'll consider it a success. All I ask is that you post a comment letting me know if you were able to utilize any of it!

Today's Tip: Cash Back or Rebate websites.

There are a lot of different ways to be savvy when you're shopping. In this post, I'll be focusing on rebates from online purchases. I'm certain I lost some people with the word 'rebate' because the first thought that comes to mind is clipping UPCs and mailing them in. There will be no clipping involved in these rebate programs.

As many people are aware, several credit card companies, such as Discover, offer cash back programs. What a lot of people don't realize is that if you click thru the credit card's website, you can get additional cash back bonuses. As an example, online purchases with Barnes & Noble get a 10% Cash back Bonus when the purchase is initiated through Discover's website. Depending on what level of cash back your card offers, clicking through the website could mean substantial savings above what you would typically receive for the purchase alone.

As an alternative, if you're planning on doing a lot of online shopping, it might be worth it to check out
Ebates. There are several online retailers listed (upwards of 800 at the moment) – each with a designated Ebate Cash Back percentage along with coupon codes for additional discounts. Starting at Ebates, click through their link to a designated retailer. Once on the retailer's website, purchases are made in the exact same manner as if you went directly to the retailer's website. The only difference is that there is a trackback on your purchase. Ebates credits your account for the qualifying purchase and you can request your rebate payment via check or Paypal. Back to the Barnes & Noble example, you can click through Ebates to earn 4% Cash Back plus find coupons for things like free shipping. As a bonus, each day the folks at Ebates double the Cash Back percentage on one of their top sites (like Target.com as it happens to be as I write this post). Keep in mind that these rebates are in addition to cash back bonuses offered by your credit card. There are a variety of websites offering these types of rebate programs, Ebates and FatWallet are the two I am most familiar with. As a heads-up, Ebates is running a referral promotion where if you sign up through the link I provided, you'll receive $5 in Cash Back.

When I'm ready to make a purchase, what I typically do is go directly to a site to determine what kind of promotion I can get and what my final purchase price would be. Then I go thru one a few different online rebate sites or my credit card site to figure out the final price and calculate what the rebate would be. I also check out other coupon websites to see if there are possibly better coupons available, but that's a subject for another post. Whichever site offers the most benefit gets my click-thru for the purchase. I'm loyal to a few different programs, but am not afraid to jump between sites to find the best offer on a case by case basis. It might not be a huge savings, but as I have said before - Every penny counts in my book and the savings add up.