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Friday, March 12, 2010

Information: How I make a purchase.

I thought it might be kind of interesting to some readers to see the (painstaking and perhaps a bit obsessive) process by which I make an online purchase, in order to ensure I'm getting the best deal and maximizing my rewards. Today we'll be looking at the Elle Lotti handbag, which I just purchased (in blue, if you're curious).

1. Comparison shop - In this case, Kohl's carries this product exclusively (as far as I know) and I knew this was the one I wanted and waited for it to be on sale. But if it were an item that many stores commonly carry, I would check my favorite shopping sites (Amazon, Zappos, Endless) as well as shopping aggregators like Nextag to get an idea of what prices are out there. Keep in mind, though, that additional discounts and bonuses, or perks like free shipping, may actually make the final price lower.

2. Find those promo codes - You may think you've found the lowest price, but online coupons and promo codes can make all the difference in the total price. As an example, let's say this bag was $50 at Macy's (but you have a promo code for free shipping), and $45 at Kohl's (but shipping is $8 and takes up to 2 weeks). The place with the "higher" price is actually the better deal overall. I love RetailMeNot to quickly check for current promo codes and see if any are applicable - here, I found a promo code for an extra 20% off at Kohl's. But don't just click through to the store directly! There are still more savings to be had.

3. Points, points, points - Now that you've identified the lowest total price, it's time to get rewarded for shopping! If you're not signed up for somewhere like Swagbucks or Ebates (full disclosure: those are my personal referral links), think about it. With Swagbucks, you earn points by shopping through their site and using their search engine, which can be exchanged for Amazon gift cards. With Ebates, you get cash back from sellers (percentage varies by store), mailed to you quarterly in a rebate check. Membership is free, and it's a slow-but-steady way to make a few bucks for the online shopping you already do.

4. Reward yourself - Finally, if you have a credit card that awards points or miles, you can use that as your actual payment method and get rewarded yet again for your purchase.

This may seem like a lot of effort, and it may not be worth it for smaller purchases. But I actually enjoy hunting around for the best price and the best discounts and perks, and I definitely like the feeling of saving money and getting cash back! It's that much more $$$ that I can put in my new handbag once it arrives.

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