Simple Ways to Get a Discount When Buying Gifts Online

Simple Ways to Get a Discount When Buying Gifts Online

I love a great hand-made or experience gift, but there are plenty of occasions that call for a tangible thing made by someone else. (For example, this year my husband and I are getting each other winter coats, after ten years of trudging along in the same old outerwear.)

But just like any other frugal mama, I hate to pay full price. Here are some ways I found to trim my shopping bill — and barely lift a pinkie.

Get Cash Back

My new friend, Kara, told me about Ebates. (I love how meeting new people makes life better — and can save money too.)

With Ebates (and similar sites like Extrabux and Mr. Rebates), all you have to do is stop there before entering the website of the store you want. If you buy something, they’ll send you a check for a percentage of the purchase price (up to 26% but usually around 3 to 5%).

Over a thousand stores that you probably shop at anyway are part of the network (including non-traditional vendors like eBay, Travelocity and, and signing up is free. (The only thing is you will start getting a bunch of promotional emails — just unsubscribe to turn off the noise.)

What I like about these rebate shopping portals is that I basically get something for nothing. All they do is add a one-second stop to a shopping trip I would have made anyway; the store and products are completely up to me. It’s like everything being on sale!

My first purchase via Ebates was pretty hefty: a $150 down coat from Lands End. At 3% cash back, $7 is not a huge rebate, but as my Italian husband would say, it’s better than a kick in the pants! And it will start adding up. I’m bummed to think of how much money I could have earned if I had been using this site since it came out in 1998.

Get an Instant Discount

As I mentioned in How to Conquer the Downsides of Online Shopping, the glory days of coupon codes are over, as many retailers have gotten wise to this kind of under-the-table discount-sharing. Still I am amazed at how easy it is to get free shipping or 15% off with a one-minute search on RetailMeNot.

Forget the name of the coupon aggregator? Just type into your search engine the store name and “promotion code” or “coupon code,” and you’ll get a whole slew of consumer-submitted coupons at various promotion code sites.

Don’t assume that these discounts only apply to big names. Even random places like Northern Tool & Equipment have discount codes floating around the internet that you can grab. I got 10% off a firewood carrier and stand that I would have bought anyway by using a promotion code I found.

I love online coupon codes because they’re so low maintenance.

Get Notified When Something Goes on Sale

Let’s say there’s a high-quality sled that you wish cost a bit less. (I’m noticing a theme here. Can anyone tell we just moved to Syracuse?) Or you can only find a pair of favorite jeans at full price.

Let Shopping Notes know that you want to be notified when the item goes on sale, and you’ve just bought yourself a little peace of mind for free. No need to remember to keep checking the store’s website, or to worry about missing out on a limited time sale.

Have you used sites like these? I’d love to hear about your conquests.

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