Guide to Holiday Shopping: Finding the Best Deals Online

The holidays are quickly approaching, and for many of us, that means it's time to shop and get everyone the perfect gifts. One challenge when shopping for holiday gifts is finding deals to save money. While most stores offer in-store sales, the thing you’re looking for is often out of stock, especially if it’s one of the hot ticket items of the year. However, with the rise of online shopping, you can still save money! In fact, shopping online provides many unique opportunities to ensure you are getting the best possible price. In this blog, we’ll review nine ways to squeeze every penny out of your online shopping experience.

Save Money on Gifts with These 9 Online Shopping Tips!

1. Use Coupon-Finding Browser Extensions

Coupons exist online as promo codes that you can use at checkout. Sites often have dozens of active discount codes, but it can take some digging to find them. Many discount codes can be found if you search online, but these code-collecting websites aren’t always up-to-date, and it can be frustrating when you have to spend time testing your luck with a bunch of expired codes.

The solution? Browser extensions, like Honey, find all the relevant coupon codes for you and apply them with just a click of the mouse. Honey will test a collection of coupon codes and automatically apply the best discount. To install Honey for free, make an account on their website and download the browser extension. A few additional coupon-finding browser extension websites include RetailMeNot, Rakuten, and CouponCabin.

2. Sign Up for Store Emails

Most online retailers will encourage you to sign up for their email or text subscription when you visit their websites. When you sign up for a store's email list, you automatically become among the first to receive all the information the store has to share. Also, most shopping websites offer a one-time coupon code to new subscribers, so signing up is almost immediately worth it! These subscription emails typically include upcoming deals, which items are on clearance, and any sales they might be having. Many places will also send exclusive coupons to members of their email or text list.

To sign up for a company's email or text list, create an account on their website. This account will also help you make purchases, save receipts, track shipments, and save payment information for future purchases. When you create your account, click the "check this box to receive promotions" box and enter your email address, phone number, or both. You'll be receiving updates about money-saving opportunities in no time!

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3. Don't Only Rely on Coupons! Cashback is Great, Too!

Woman shopping online credit cardCashback is an excellent reward for shopping! After all, who doesn't love earning money doing something so simple? Apps such as Rakuten and Ibotta let you earn cashback on purchases. Setting it up is similar to setting up coupon-finding browser extensions. Go to the website, create an account (for free), and add the extension to your browser. Click on the browser extension to ensure it is active, and it will track your purchases. Now, you can start collecting cashback! When you make a qualifying cashback purchase, you'll receive a check in the mail (some sites offer alternative ways to redeem your cash) for the amount you've earned.

4. Automate Your Price Comparisons

Different retailers often have different prices for the same items, but there can be hundreds of sites to go through to find the best one. As a result, we often end up going with the easy option: buying the first thing we see. Luckily, there is a browser add-on that can do this for us called Price Blink. Once you find what you're looking for, click on the extension and let it search hundreds of sites for the best price!

Installing Price Blink is similar to installing the other extensions. Simply go to their website, create your free account, and download the extension!

5. Participate in Rewards Programs

It's no secret that businesses want you to come back and purchase again. Many will even reward you for doing so! A loyalty or rewards program differs from an email list, which sends everyone information regardless of past purchases. With a rewards program, you'll be entitled to "members only" deals, which are often even better than the ones you receive in your email. Along with receiving “members only” deals, you'll also earn points or credits to spend at the store, either in-person or online. Generally, businesses will ask you to sign up right before you make your purchase. In most cases, it’s free to sign up unless you’re signing up for a store credit card.

6. Store Sales

Stack of coupons

This list of ways to save money online cannot be complete without mentioning good, old-fashioned store discounts. Certain stores will have different items on sale, depending on the week or even the day. You can often find massive deals during certain times of the year, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or post-Christmas.

Plenty of stores offer student, senior, military, and healthcare employee discounts, so check your email and watch their websites closely. Oftentimes, your best bet is to wait a little bit prior to purchasing because the item you're looking for could go on sale at any moment. Around the holiday season, try to make a habit of checking your email daily to stay up-to-date on ongoing sales at stores that carry items on your gift shopping list.

7. Discounted Gift Cards

Discounted gift cards are excellent for purchasing other gifts or giving them as gifts themselves. What are discounted gift cards? Exactly what they sound like! You can get a gift card at a discount, meaning you end up paying less than the gift card is worth. For example, if a gift card is worth $50, you can get it for a lower price of $40 on gift card sites. Then, you can use it as usual ($50 value) for your purchases or gift it to someone. You can even purchase electronic or "e-gift cards," which can be redeemed immediately without waiting for them to arrive in the mail. Several sites sell cards like this, including Raise, CardCookie, and

Similarly, independent stores and restaurants often offer discounted gift cards around the holidays, so keep your eyes peeled for these deals while they last!

8. Buy Online, Pick Up at the Store

While it isn’t always the most convenient option, choosing pickup (in-store or curbside) can save you the shipping cost that most websites require unless you spend over a set minimum amount. Another benefit of in-store pickup is that you can typically pick up your order the same day, which can be a huge bonus during the holiday season when there are shipping delays, especially if you’re a last-minute shopper. Also, some stores offer discounts on in-store pickup orders, so look out for those deals when doing your holiday shopping.

In-store and curbside pickup options can be worth the minor inconvenience, especially when you consider the time and money you’ll save by spending less time browsing unnecessary items and window shopping at other stores in the mall.

9. Find Freebie Deals

Discounts are a great way to save money when buying holiday gifts, but you can also get freebies online, such as product samples or gift cards. Some stores let you choose a few free samples at checkout if your order exceeds a certain dollar amount. You’ll likely find freebie deals from beauty or fragrance stores, such as Ulta, Sephora, or Bath & Body Works.

Another way to find freebies is by looking on websites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or Nextdoor, where people in your community may post free items for anyone to claim. On Facebook Marketplace, there are “Buy Nothing” groups in most cities, so you can join your city’s group and look out for items that align with your holiday gift shopping list. While you might find that some of the items posted might seem like junk, you could also find other items that are rare or in great condition.

Most people posting to these sites are either trying to declutter their homes, get rid of things leading up to a move, or simply spreading generosity in their communities.

The holiday season is going to change this year. Shopping online is different than in-person shopping, but there are many benefits to it! Saving money is easier online once you find all of the cool websites, browser extensions, and add-ons that help you do so! Thousands of coupon codes can be searched, the best price can be found, and you can get cash back, all with the click of a button and just a few seconds of your time! Happy shopping!

Let us know in the comments below - how do you find the best price?

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