Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My best suggestions for online shopping

A few of my family members, who've never shopped online before, were looking for some pointers about how to get the most out of their Christmas shopping. I came up with a few tips, and figured I'd share them here too:

1) Never JUST shop. This means, don't just go to the store and buy something through them. Use a referral program. There are 2 types of referral programs: charity (yay!) and selfish (also, yay, but it's the season of GIVING, people!). I use two main referral programs, and have just signed up for a third. All three are easy to use, and have great benefits.

For charities, I use IGIVE:
Change Online Shopping for Good -
You sign up with your e-mail addy, and then pick a cause (I shop for the CFIDS association of America). And a percentage of your purchase - depending on the merchant - goes to the charity.

For Myself, I've always used MyPoints:
My Points
With MyPoints, they send you e-mails to earn points, and you earn a specific # of points per dollar at each store. And then your points add up and you can trade them in for gift certificates to retailers. And the vicious cycle continues.

And I just lately have heard about Jellyfish
I've only just signed on, but Jellyfish says they give you a percentage of your buy (looks to be about average 3 or so %) right back to you. In $$, not points. I haven't used it yet, like I said, but I do have Xmas shopping to do, and will let you know how it goes.

So, we've got that, right? Don't just shop: make your shopping work for you! (This can sometimes be difficult if you're clicking through other sites ... listed in #2 or #3, but try to remember that you want to go through these sites.)

2) Always look for coupon codes. Seriously, if you are shopping online and don't look for coupon codes, then you shouldn't be shopping online. WantNot is a great site, Mir will post any deals she knows about, and then you know about them and ... UGh... then you want to buy something through that deal, even if you don't need it. The sites I regularly check for a specific retailer's deal (Say, my Old Navy bag is filled up to $200 and I think "Maybe I should see if there's any deals to be had here?") are Slickdeals, and - in the interest of earning stuff - I do searches through Blingo. You can win prizes & stuff. I have not won anything yet. But if you sign up, make sure you say my e-mail referred you; so that if you win, I win too, and then we'll have DOUBLE PRIZES!!!

3) Comparison shop. If there's a specific item you're looking for, type it into
Cnet, Froogle,Nexttag, Shopping or Shopzilla and you'll get all the competitors prices for that one item. If you need a specific price range, you can usually narrow that down too.

4) E-bay is not the only way. Ebay is great, but it can get expensive pretty fast (see: stupid vintage playpen that goes for $200;) You probably already know about Craigslist, but there's also Freecycle,(which isn't exactly barter, but close enough) & Freesharing. These are probably not your best bet this close to the holidays, but might be useful at other times of the year, when you're not in such a rush.

5) Don't forget Shipping & Handling: sometimes it's cheaper to browse online, and then get it at a store. Or use the website's (like CircuitCity's site) to reserve one at your local store before you go.

5b) Don't forget that Shipping takes time. If you want these things at your house by a certain date, you may have to pay more, and you still risk not having it in time if you don't order it soon enough. So get started, already.

How bout you guys... any tips to share?

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