If you want to save money, then shopping isn’t an ideal hobby. But unless you are living off the grid, some amount of shopping is going to be necessary. Whether it’s grocery shopping, shopping for holiday gifts, or just buying for yourself, it’s just part of life. One thing is clear: when you do shop, try to get the best deal you can!
My favorite type of coupon is one that applies to any purchase and requires little or no effort. I’ve explored several browser plugins, including Coupon Cabin and Honey. These free apps essentially give you cash back for your online purchases. There’s little reason (other than simplicity) to be picky and not install several coupon apps, because sometimes one has a better deal than the other. But if I had to choose just one, based on the ease of use and level of rewards it would be Ebates.
During the holiday season, I’ve found it applicable to so many places that I’ve shopped at online, such as Macy’s, Sephora, Tory Burch, and Nordstrom. It takes just a second to install. Then when you shop through a sponsored store, you automatically get cash back. It also will look for coupon codes, but the cash back is the best feature. The best thing is that it is in addition to any coupon code you do find (through the site or elsewhere) so you can stack rewards. And of course, it’s in addition to your credit card rewards points.
One favorite is Groupon, which tends to already feature good deals. The key is simply to only buy a Groupon for something that you’re already going to buy anyway.
Once you choose the store through Ebates, (or re-route through Ebates if you have installed the browser plugin), you’ll see something like this:
Then make a purchase and your Ebates account is credited that percentage as cash back. To receive the funds, you can easily link your PayPal account, or just request a check. They pay out quarterly.
Ebates now offers in-store cash back to a more limited number of stores. You can link a credit card, accept an offer, and then shop. I scrolled through recently and don’t plan to do any in-person shopping at the 82 stores they currently offer. But next time I do shop, I’ll check back.
While there are a few other features, such as discount travel and cash back on gift cards, my favorite section is the “double cash back” selection. It seems to rotate frequently.
By adding coupon codes, receiving double cash back, finding an item that’s already on sale, and factoring in credit card reward points, it’s easy to save a ton! Of course remember, that 80% off of $100 is still $20 more than not buying anything.
But when you do need to shop, I really can’t think of much of a downside of using Ebates, especially because it’s free and easy to use. If I had to try to think of downsides they would be (1) if getting cash back causes you to shop more, then it’s not actually saving you money, and (2) there are instances where Honey or another competitor may have a better offer for a particular online store. So the solutions to these issues are to not let shopping get out of control, and to install one or two other coupon apps if you really want to ensure that you’re getting the most cash back.
Also, if you’re looking to keep your shopping habits extremely private and not have any data collected, then I wouldn’t recommend any of these plugins.
Also check out the life hacks in “Life Simplified: Extraordinarily-handy Lifehacks for Ordinary People.” Time and money saving links abound within the book!