How to Shop Smarter Online

With so many of us doing everything we can to stretch the dollar, more of us than ever are scouring the web for deals and discounts. In fact, in 2009, the top searched pocketbook related query on Yahoo! was "coupons" - especially, grocery coupons. But with so many offers and promotions, surfing the Web for savings can be overwhelming. Here are a few ideas to help you find the best deals and combat the fatigue that can quickly set in when you're shopping online.

Set Aside Time to Shop

It's very easy to take a few minutes to browse here and there when you are multitasking (at your desk at work, maybe?). But if you really want to save money you need to comparison shop and it takes time. Schedule uninterrupted time in the same way you would give yourself an hour at the mall or supermarket and then stick to it. If you are looking for clothes, have your measurements handy so you can easily find the right size.

Make a Plan

The more specific you are when shopping for something online, the easier it is to find it and potentially locate a coupon or discount. This is especially true when searching for an item of clothing. Forgo the urge to search for say, an indigo sweater, and instead, do some browsing to find the exact brand and style you want. This will save you tons of time and frustration in the long run.

Use a Coupon Aggregator

Save yourself the time by using a shopping site that pulls deals from across the Web instead of navigating to each retailer's home page. Check out Shopzilla, Coupons.com, Yahoo Deals, Amazon, PriceGrabber and Woot! I recently had the chance to show Martha Stewart how easy it is to virtually clip and save coupons using a digital circular on Yahoo Deals.


Compare Prices in Person

For a big ticket item, especially electronics, it's a good idea to take a walk through Best Buy or another brick and mortar retailer before you buy online. The best way to know if you are getting a deal on the web is if you have a baseline. Do some homework and it will pay off.

Turn To Twitter

Lots of businesses tweet to promote their products so you can find lots of deals on Twitter. But it can be a lot of work to sort through all of them. CheapTweet.com does that for you throughout the day. Check out CouponTweet.com, too, where you can find coupon codes for everything from Victoria's Secret to Walgreens.

Sample Sample Sales

You'll need to be invited by a friend, but once you are, you can find out about amazing members-only markdowns on luxury goods at Gilt.com, Billion Dollar Babes.com and EditorsCloset.com and Ideeli.com.

How do you find the best deals online?