10 Minutes to Save $687 and up!

Everyone wants to save money, but not everyone wants to break a sweat or face the crowds to do it. You’re never going to find me setting my alarm for the crack of dawn on Black Friday, or risking carpal tunnel clipping coupons. But save money online--I can do that. Here’s how:

by Samantha Lear
save money online
Photograph: iStock

1. Never pay for shipping

“Before you click ‘purchase,’ always do one last search for free shipping,” says Yahoo! Web Life Expert Heather Cabot. Sites like Retailmenot.com and FreeShipping.org offer thousands of free shipping codes. Avoiding pricey delivery fees adds up to real savings—buy a $250 microwave and save $20 in shipping.


2. Cash in your old plastic

I have a habit of forgetting about old gift cards, letting them get tucked away in some old envelope or behind the odd credit card in my wallet. But just because I don’t need anything from Pottery Barn doesn’t mean I have to let the gift go to waste. Instead, Cabot suggests I head to Cardpool.com or PlasticJungle.com to trade in my card for up to 92% its original value; I can opt for cash or credit on Amazon.com. Or you can donate the money to charity: Some sites give you the option to give the value of the card to a nonprofit of your choice.

POSSIBLE SAVINGS: Your unused gift card.

3. Don’t pay full price for gift cards

Use gift card exchange sites to find cards at up to 35% off the original value. Right after the holidays is the best time to check out offers, as the bigger and better ones are more available, says Cabot. For instance, you can buy a $100 Pier 1 Imports gift card on Cardpool.com for about $87--a savings of 13%.


4. Reap the rewards of brand loyalty

Each month, a few of my favorite stores are staying in business thanks to a healthy contribution from my paycheck. To take advantage of this type of brand devotion, sign up for discount emails next time you’re in the store, says Rachel Singer Gordon, author of Point, Click, and Save. You will be emailed coupons to use both online and in the store. For instance, you could save 30% off a necklace that was originally $49.50 from The Loft with one of their emailed coupon codes.


5. Create a digital piggy bank

If you are having some trouble sticking to your savings plan, sign up for a free account on Smartypig. This site helps you set specific goals—i.e. buying a car or going on a vacation—and accomplish them, while potentially earning interest and cash back. Let’s say you have saved $2000 towards a Macy’s gift card for new furniture. When you select the cash back option, you receive 11% to put on the gift card or towards your next goal. As a bonus, it’s easy to share your goal with friends and family, who can make contributions as gifts, says Singer Gordon.


6. Get the rest of the crew on board

It seems like a new daily deal site emerges, well, daily. But Singer Gordon suggests taking a look at LivingSocial. When you buy a deal, share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. If three people buy it, you get the product or service for free. “If it’s a good deal, it’s likely that at least three people will cash in,” says Singer Gordon. In the past, the site has offered a deal of $45 for a month of unlimited Bikram yoga, originally valued at $180. For you, it could be free.


7. Shop around for gas

First Published April 12, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


victoria 05.03.2011

There are lots of good ideas here. For more money-saving tips to help you through the great recession, check out the Top Tightwad Tips website at http://toptightwadtips.blogspot.com/

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