3 Tips for Getting a Great Deal when Shopping Online

By Crystal Paine
Author of The Money Saving Mom's Budget

The holidays are almost here and many of us still have gift shopping left to do. If you want to avoid the crowds, the lines, and the traffic by staying home and shopping online, here are three tips to find the best deal.

1) Don't pay for shipping.
High shipping prices can quickly kill an otherwise fantastic online deal. But many sites, such as OldNavy.com and Kohls.com, offer free shipping when you place a minimum $50 purchase. Check out FreeShipping.org for the latest free shipping coupons available at a wide variety of online retailers.

More than 1,800 online merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on Friday, Dec. 16. These sites are offering free shipping specials with guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. Be sure to take advantage of this great deal.

2) Use a coupon code.
Before you buy anything online, always check to see if there's a coupon code available to give you a little extra off. Even if it's just 10 to 15 percent, it will still save you a few dollars-and it's worth a minute or two of your time spent searching for a coupon code.

RetailMeNot.com is my favorite site for online coupon codes. To find a coupon, just go to the homepage, search for the site you're planning to shop from and-ta-da!-you have a long list of coupon codes that have been rated by their large community of users.

3) Shop through a cash-back site.
Cash-back sites work with online stores to offer you a percentage back as a rebate. While getting 3 to 8 percent cash back on each online order you place might not seem like much, it can add up over time. And if you're already going to be making the online purchase, you might as well get a little something extra in return, right?

Ebates is my favorite cash-back site. It's been around for a long time, has an easy-to-navigate website, and you only have to earn $5.01 in rebates in order to get a check or Paypal payment. You'll also get a $5 bonus upon sign-up, so with just one purchase, you can reach payout.

When you are ready to make an online purchase, log in to your Ebates account, search for the online site you're shopping, and then click through the "Shop Now" button to ensure you earn your cash back. Do note that payments are only sent every three months, so you have to wait a little while to get your rebate.

By combining free shipping, an online coupon code, and a cash-back rebate on as many of your online shopping purchases as you can, you will make your money go a lot further this Christmas-and maybe you'll even end up under budget!

Crystal Paine is a homeschooling mom of three and the founder of MoneySavingMom.com, one of the top personal finance blogs on the web. Pre-order a copy of her first book, The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget (out Jan. 10). For more of Crystal's tips, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Related links:

Pre-order The Money Saving Mom's Budget
3 Ways to Get a Great Deal on a Christmas Tree
10 Affordable Gift Ideas for under $20
Like Tips on Life and Love on Facebook
Follow Tips on Life and Love on Twitter