I have never been much of a mall guy. Even as a teenager I never saw much point in standing around in malls. If I am not going to buy anything, what's the point? So I was quickly hooked when online shopping became mainstream. Here are a few of the tips I use when looking to shop for something online.
Search for Coupon Codes
Internet users are helpful folks. Many sites exist to allow people to post coupons to use at certain sites. If you are not on a site's mailing list, search the web for current coupon codes. Also, look to "stack" coupons, meaning use more than one for a transaction. Some sites allow this and some don't, but it doesn't hurt to try.
In December I used Shutterfly to make some custom calendars for family members. One was so popular I had to order more after I had already sent my original order. I found a 40% coupon code as well as a free shipping code. I saved over $12 on the calendar and also avoided the $7 shipping charge.
Don't Be Too Loyal
Consumers can be loyal to a fault, staying with stores even when prices and service indicate they should find somewhere else to spend their money. As an avid reader, I have always been partial to Barnes and Noble, mainly because I enjoy their brick-and-mortar stores so much. But Amazon beats their prices in most cases, and I made the switch to that site. Also, don't forget that prices changes often on online sites, so check frequently. A book by C.J. Box that I bought for $16 on Amazon March 29 is now $17.13 on the same site.
Free Shipping is Great, Unless There Is a Catch
Many online stores offer free shipping for a minimum order. Amazon's minimum is normally $25; for Kohl's it's usually $75, for example. There is a reason for this, of course. It makes you buy more stuff. Look for free shipping coupons or wait for special time periods when merchants offer free shipping with no minimum order. Many stores give free shipping with no catch during the mad shopping frenzy leading up to Christmas.
Find a Credit Card with Meaningful Rewards
I fly about once every ten years, so a rewards card that gives me airlines miles would be a worthless perk for me. In December my wife and I were shopping for a new credit card and settled on a Chase Amazon Visa card. Normally the site tosses in a $30 gift card but was offering a $40 gift card at the time. The card offers points of up to 3% of purchases in the form of Amazon credit. We have accumulated over $150 in credit through our normal spending and are saving them for Christmas shopping this year.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.