With the year’s biggest shopping season now coming into clear view, it’s time to gather our wits, sharpen our resolve, and determine to know everything we possibly can about how to save money. Today I want to show you an online shopping hack that will help stretch your holiday dollars until they scream!
I used to love a good shopping mall. But those days are long gone and I don’t miss them one bit since I’ve discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping. In fact, I’ll do just about anything to avoid having to go inside a mall. Or even a grocery store.
I’m going to walk you through the basic steps of an incredibly easy way to save money shopping online, using an actual purchase I made as an example.
From time to time, I will stop by Chicos.com to check out “New Arrivals.” I’ve been looking for a jacket that would be appropriate for speaking engagements and I must be very picky because for weeks I haven’t seen even one that might be a good candidate.
On this particular day, something catches my eye—a jacket that just might be perfect, except for the $99 price. It’s available in my size and color preference so I put it into my shopping cart. And I leave the site.
Go away for now
I’ve learned that unless I need an item immediately, putting a few days between the time I put something in the shopping cart, and when I actually check out may turn up any number of incentives to encourage me across the finish line.
About a week later I return. Bingo! The jacket is still in my shopping cart but with a new reduced price of $41.99. But I don’t buy it. Oh, no … not yet!
Head to Rakuten
Rakuten is a rebate site and because I’ve have signed up, I can click on any of the store links on the Rakuten site (there are hundreds including favorites like Amazon, Old Navy, Chico’s, JCPenney, JCPenney, Lowes, Groupon and on and on!), make a purchase and get cashback—2% to 10% of the total sale is typical. Rebates are small, but over time they all add up. Every three months I get a rebate check in the mail for cold hard cash, provided I’ve earned at least $5 in rebates.
Back to the deal: I click on the Chicos link at the Rakuten site and in seconds I’m back at Chico’s site just as if I’d never left. But now I’m positioned to get a cash rebate should I make a purchase.
I make sure I am logged into my Chico’s account, recheck my shopping cart and head to the checkout. Immediately, I see a nice little discount because I, as a Chico’s Passport Member, get an additional 5% off everything I buy there, plus free shipping.
Pay with discounted gift card
When it’s time to pay, I don’t use a credit card. Instead, I use my Chico’s gift card purchased from Raise. (Hang on; this will all make sense very soon.)
Raise is a site that resells gift cards at a discounted rate—gift cards others have received but want to sell to get the cash instead. You can find gift cards for just about any store, available to use almost immediately. (I was suspicious at first, but I’ve confirmed that this is legitimate, legal and completely above board.)
Several weeks earlier I’d purchased a Chico’s gift card at Raise for 26% off its face value and had been holding onto in anticipation of this kind of deal on a great jacket.
But wait, there’s more: I bought that Raise gift card with a credit card that gives me 2% cashback!
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Add up the savings
Considering all that I saved and earned in this process, the $99 jacket cost me $27.53 out of pocket and that includes tax—it works out to 72% net discount and free shipping!
Upon its arrival, if the jacket isn’t right, I’m not stuck. I will return it to the Chico’s store near me (I’ll run in and out really fast) and get a full refund back to my Chico’s gift card—the one I purchased at Raise.
There are so many ways you could use these same steps to make your own great deals by shopping online.
Example: Let’s say it’s time to go clothes shopping and your kids are fans of Old Navy. You head over to Raise.com to buy an Old Navy gift card at a significant discount, paying for it with a credit card that gives you cashback.
Next, you log in to your Rakuten/Ebates account (you can sign up here if you don’t have one) and click through to the Old Navy site. Look for sales and additional coupons there (be patient, you’ll find them). At checkout pay with the Old Navy gift card you purchased at Raise and enjoy that nice discount (start looking now).
While in my example, I took the long way to the finish line. There are many ways to use the principles in this online shopping hack. You can, in fact, us it in-store and Rukaten now offers that offer—to cashback into your Rukaten account when store shopping.
There are lots of ways to save money shopping online and here’s my best favorite method in a nutshell: Start at Rakuten, never pay retail price and when you find a great deal, pay with a discounted Raise gift card.
First published: 5-22-18; Updated with additional information 10-20-19