We've all heard the stories about the coupon-clipping whizzes who can net $100 worth of groceries for eight bucks and change or something like that. We've even offered you helpful advice for becoming a champion in the coupon-clipping arena. But online shopping can be equally as satisfying when it comes to the potential for savings.
Meet some average Americans who scored some amazing deals online, and learn their secrets so you, too, can be an online savings master of the webiverse.Matt Bailey, a travel blogger and college student from Alberta, Canada, tells WalletPop he netted gifts for his whole family and his girlfriend thanks to Groupon.com. "This Christmas I decided to buy all my gifts online and devoted almost all of it to sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. This gave me the opportunity to save, plus gave me ideas for gifts I never would have thought of," he says. For $150, Bailey got a voucher for an upscale restaurant in Calgary for which he plans to take his parents and his girlfriend. He also canvassed Groupon and found entertainment to follow up the night's feast -- an improv show at a comedy club -- for a mere $5 per ticket. In total, Bailey is out $170 for a unique, experiential gift for his closest loved ones (plus, he gets to enjoy the evening, too). "I like to be on the road traveling a lot, so I want to save as much money as possible on anything back home," he tells WalletPop.
His secret: Location-based sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Scoop St. can be an excellent way to score great deals on experiences -- from entertainment to meals to spas -- you'd like to try but for which you don't want to pay full price.
Jessica Killion, a blogger at ThisFrugalLife.com based in California, scored herself a $110 multifunction printer for $20, including shipping. Killion, who is also a designated "deal pro" at Savings.com and helps members of the site's online forums find good prices on all sorts of items, is pretty savvy when it comes to online shopping steals, but this one even blew her away. "I was pretty excited. I've been looking for a printer since June because I've been looking for a good deal," she tells WalletPop. It's an HP three-in-one so it's got a lot of bells and whistles," she says. Killion discovered her windfall by visiting Walmart.com. "Up at the top, they have amazing holiday deals and it changes every day. You can find some really good deals like this printer and there are deep discounts on these things," she says. In some cases, Killion will scoop up deeply discounted things like blankets in order to donate them to a homeless shelter.
Her secret: Many retailers post absolute steals on their website for a limited time, so if there's a store you like or buy from frequently, bookmark the site and check back often -- as frequently as daily -- to net short-term, deep discounts.
Michelle Craig, a contractor for the Department of Defense based in Indianapolis, got herself a high-end pair of cozy, $90 winter boots for $27 with free shipping thanks to her detective work on savings-and-coupon aggregator sites. "I do like the online savings because I don't like fighting crowds or doing the Black Friday thing," she tells WalletPop. "It's a lot easier to do online for me anyway than go store to store to get the best deal." Craig's big score was a pair of knee-high, sheepskin lined winter boots from online retailer 6pm.com. She was tipped off about the deal -- as well as the free shipping code -- by deal aggregator MyBargainBuddies.com, one of several such sites Craig says she visits regularly to try and score deals. "I'm on there every day, several times a day sometimes, because she updates it pretty often," Craig says. "It's my favorite just because of the deals I get and the diversity -- shoes, small appliances, furniture. I saw a fondue machine on there," she says.
Her secret: Deal aggregation sites try to deliver the best savings from all around the Internet with the aim of making your cut-rate haul a one-stop shopping experience.
Michael Ivey, a financial management consultant in Dallas, was looking to move to a new apartment. His cousin had recently launched a new site, RentSavr.com, which gives deals on area apartments. Ivey found a deal on a one-bedroom apartment in a new building he'd never considered, but the deal let him pro-rate two months' free rent and netted him a $1,500 Visa gift card, to boot. "It ended up being a really good deal," he says. Ivey signed a yearlong lease and now pays roughly $1,550 instead of the approximately $1,700 market rate. "It ended up being lucky for me; I was moving at the right time. It was in my price range, and the $1,500 didn't hurt. I figured I'd take advantage of it," he says.
His secret: Don't be afraid to ask around. This holds true for all kinds of deal-hunting, not just the online varitety. Ivey put his quest for a new apartment out to his friends and family, and found a deal that saved him big -- and gave him enough "free" money to furnish his new pad.
Sean Bowden, a furniture store manager in New York, had "liked" Home Depot's page on Facebook previously, a move that paid off in a big way around Black Friday. "From a few days prior to Black Friday they started posting these limited-amount specials for their Facebook friends," he tells WalletPop. "I bought stuff I didn't really need, but was too good to pass up," he says. Bowden's biggest haul was a set of four steel, sling back patio chairs. He'd seen them on clearance at his local Home Depot for around $100. The Facebook special was $9.95 - including shipping. Bowden got two sets, one for his own backyard and one for a relative's Christmas present. "They are as nice as the ones I paid $75 apiece for," at an outdoor goods retailer, he says.
His secret: Signing up for the retailer's Facebook feed. Increasingly, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are where the short-term, hot deals pop up.
Five Amazing Online Shopping Hauls — And the Secrets to Getting Them