Deal, sale, special offer, buy now, all of these phrases are words that are meant to grab our attention and click the “Buy” button. Between Amazon, Walmart+ and retail shops all around us, it’s easy to impulse buy as soon as you think something is a good deal. The reality is quite different after a few minutes of research. This article will help you out and tell you if something really is a great deal. Read on to learn whether you should jump on a low price or keep waiting.
- 1. Integrate Cashback into Your Browser
- 2. Never Pay Full Price
- 3. Use a Price Comparison Tool
- 4. Look for Coupons First
- 5. Save Money with Discounted Gift Cards
- 6. Add Items to Your Shopping Cart and Wait
- 7. Follow Discount Sites/Deal-Hunters
- 8. Wait for Specific Times to Buy
- 9. Check for Veteran, Education, and Other Discounts
- 10. Search a Deal Website First
- 11. Using the Right Credit Cards
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Integrate Cashback into Your Browser
The concept of cashback isn’t anything new, but the ways to get it have become simpler than ever. There are sites that make money by having you shop through their site, and by doing so, are able to offer you “cash back” on every purchase. Two top examples of these kinds of sites are Topcashback and Rakuten.
But instead of manually going through those sites, seeing if they have cashback, perhaps comparing the best rates between two different cashback sites, you can do something much faster. Get the respective Chrome extensions for Topcashback and Rakuten (which also work on Edge, Brave and other Chromium-based browsers), sign in, and just browse as normal. You’ll get notifications on whether cashback is available on a given site, and even be able to compare their rates in your Google search results!
Don’t take those cashback rates at face value. That “up to 25%” from Topcashback, for example, only applies to certain products, so once you’re on the site click the extension to get a rundown on the cashback rates that apply to different items.
Both TCB and Rakuten link out to a huge number of sites – everything from electronics to clothes at retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s are all available. If you pair this cashback with the below tips and find a great deal, it’s a win-win for you.
2. Never Pay Full Price
Do you know that you don’t have to pay full price of the item most of the time? With rare exceptions, regardless of the product, it’s going to go on sale at some point. Between coupon codes, lightning deals, holiday specials and regular sales, there are very few products that go an entire year without some type of discount. The bigger question isn’t when something will be discounted, but how much.
If what you need isn’t time sensitive, then add it to your cart or shopping/saved list and wait for a deal. Chances are there will be one coming up. Tools like CamelCamelCamel (and other price comparison tools) will show you prices from the past year so you can gauge when a sale is imminent.
Some retailers also employ an “abandoned cart” workflow (see strategy #6 below) that will work to your advantage. It also helps prevent impulse buying, which can be quite costly.
3. Use a Price Comparison Tool
One of the best tools to quickly compare prices online is Google Shopping. It’s not an all-encompassing shopping experience but should give you a very strong sense of which retailer is selling a product and for how much.
It’s super easy to determine which store is offering the best deal and whether you can pick it up today or need to ship it, and if it’s the latter, for how much. If you don’t want to use Google, Yahoo Shopping offers a similar tool that helps you find the best pricing between various retailers.
On the flip side, understanding when something is at its lowest price is equally, if not more, important.
In the case of Amazon, you can use CamelCamelCamel to look at historical pricing. Using the line charts, you can quickly determine whether something is at its lowest or highest price. There are not many comparable sites for non-Amazon retailers, but using this site is a fantastic guide – even if you don’t shop or buy on Amazon – as it gives you an idea of what to aim for with brick-and-mortar retailers.
4. Look for Coupons First
Part of the fun of shopping can be locating appropriate coupons or discounts. In this case, there are plenty of options. One of the most popular is Honey, which will help you find and apply coupon codes across more than 30,000 sites that can be used online.
RetailMeNot is another fantastic option that offers similar coupon finds as Honey but adds in-store coupons and discounts to the mix. Input the name of the site, and you’ll get instant results for any valid coupons. Sometimes all it takes is a minute or two and to find tens, hundreds – or in rare cases – thousands of dollars in savings.
Additionally, many websites offer discount codes in the form of a percentage or dollar off if you sign up for text or email notifications. DSW, a popular shoe retailer that offers both a retail footprint and website, will offer you $10 off your first purchase after you sign up with your email. Kohls offers 15% off your first purchase, Old Navy offers 20% and so on.
5. Save Money with Discounted Gift Cards
This is a great strategy that not enough people take advantage of. Between retailers and dedicated gift card sites, taking advantage of discount gift cards is a great way to save.
For example, Target runs a once-yearly promotion around the holiday season offering up to $500 in Target gift cards that you can purchase for up to 10% off. That’s $50 off with no extra action on your part. On top of that, Discover offers 5% back on Target purchases, so that’s an extra $22.50 in your pocket. That’s essentially $72.50 in savings.
On the other hand, stores like Dollar General frequently offer discounts on gift cards upward of 10% to 15% off. Likewise, sites like CardCash.com allow you to purchase gift cards they have acquired from other individuals at a discount. For example, a $350 Target gift card may only cost you $337. Over time, these savings can add up in a big way.
6. Add Items to Your Shopping Cart and Wait
Another strategy is to benefit from an online retailer’s “abandoned cart” workflow. For this strategy to work, you will have to create an account with the retailer or even marketplace (e.g. eBay). Simply add items you want to purchase to your shopping cart while logged in but do not check out.
Some retailers will send you a reminder that you still have items in your shopping cart and in most cases offer a discount to complete your purchase. It won’t be a huge discount, likely 10% to 15%, but you will still end up saving money.
7. Follow Discount Sites/Deal-Hunters
Another option many don’t consider is to follow discount sites or deal-hunters through social media. Twitter in particular has been incredibly helpful for many people to find discounts. For video games, users like @Wario64 have an outstanding reputation for tweeting video game deals. Websites and their respective apps like “The Krazy Coupon Lady” are also great ways to quickly learn about deals as they happen so that you can move quickly to take advantage.
8. Wait for Specific Times to Buy
Knowing when the best time to buy is can be part guesswork and part science. Everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday Week and Green Monday. Of course, in the U.S., other holidays also play a role, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. However, and this is where the sciences come in, data actually points to January and February being the best time of year to buy a new television.
Right before the Super Bowl is when retailers are offering the biggest discounts and strongest offers. When it comes to Amazon, Prime Day is when there are some of the best deals of the year, even more so than the end of the year.
When it comes to buying technology, understanding the upgrade/product cycle is also very important to sourcing a good deal. For example, Apple is known to follow a very specific product life cycle and most Apple products will go on sale just before a new version is released. MacRumors has an excellent buying guide to help with this.
9. Check for Veteran, Education, and Other Discounts
Yet another overlooked way to find a great deal is to look and see whether you qualify for a discount. For military veterans in the U.S., many retailers like Target offer discounts. The same goes for AAA members. Many full-time employees of big and small corporations are also potentially qualified for discounts from big-name retailers.
Apple, one of the more notorious brands for not discounting, has an Employee Purchase Program that your employer might take part in. It’s best to ask your HR department to see if you qualify.
10. Search a Deal Website First
There is no shortage of websites dedicated to helping you find the best deal. In fact, we’ve already covered quite a few here. SlickDeals comes to mind as the peak of deal-hunting communities. Its popularity and ability to source the best deals is second to none. Sure, other sites like DealNews do a great job, but when it comes to finding the best deals online, SlickDeals is the only site you need.
Not only will you find out about a deal, but community members will also jump into the conversation with other methods to save, such as credit card offer stacking, additional coupon codes, etc. Ultimately, SlickDeals is a one-stop destination for all of the best deals in nearly any category you can think of.
11. Using the Right Credit Cards
This is yet another often overlooked aspect of shopping that too many people do not consider. Discover and Chase for example offer 5% cash back in rotating categories every three months of the year.
For example, as of the fourth quarter of 2021, Discover is offering 5% cash back on any purchase from Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com. Stack the Amazon discount on top of a lightning deal plus potential cash back from Rakuten and you could see your cash back quickly add up. Best of all, it adds maybe an extra minute or two of shopping at most to take advantage of Rakuten.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Amazon deals any good?
Too many people only focus on these deals around the holidays or Prime Day, but lightning deals or Epic Daily Deals happen every day. They are available in a variety of categories, like top brands, Amazon devices/brands, fashion, computers and video games, toys and games, kitchen and so many more.
Each deal has a limited window, sometimes as long as 24 hours or as short as 6 hours that the price is discounted. Once an item is added to your shopping cart, you have a limited amount of time to purchase, generally around 15 minutes. Best of all, you don’t even need to be a Prime member to take advantage of Epic Daily Deals but Prime members will receive early access to price drops.
Amazon also runs multi-day deals on multiple different kinds of products year round and will offer coupons that you can “clip” to save even more. If you’re shopping on Amazon, always check out the multiple deals offered first.
Should you ask for price adjustments?
Absolutely! Most stores, especially around the holidays, have price matching policies that include not only their own website and retail locations, but lists of competitors. Target, for example, will match prices at Amazon, Apple, Costco, Sears, Walmart, Wayfair, Chewy, CVS, HomeDepot and many more. As long as the item is in stock, and in the case of Amazon, shipped and sold through Amazon, price adjustments should be relatively painless. Just make sure you keep your original receipt.
When should I hold out for a better discount?
This really is the crux of the question around all of the strategies to find a great deal – how do I know if a better deal is coming? Realistically, you can’t. That said, if you are looking to purchase a new TV or video game console in October, waiting until the holidays is likely going to help you find better pricing. The same goes for kitchen appliances, clothes, etc. If you are looking to buy a big ticket item on Amazon, holding out for Prime Day is also something to consider.
Ultimately, using a site like CamelCamelCamel in the case of Amazon will help you recognize if a bigger discount is possible. Does the item go on sale frequently? If so, wait until it does.
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