Online Shopping with Cheapskates

Let’s face it, if you’re not a tween you probably hate the mall. In the summer it’s hot and you’re drenched with sweat, so you’re disgusting by the time you hit a dressing room. In the winter, it’s cold and you’re freezing your knickers off so the last thing you want to do is peel off your 17 layers of clothing to try crap on. Nor do you want to lug bags of purchases to your car in either one of those situations. (And let us not forgot the thugs waiting to take your Christmas presents in the parking lot.)

This is why online shopping is so awesome. Sure, it has its drawbacks–shipping costs, the lack of immediate gratification–but we can get over that. Especially since there are so many ways to save money.

Asian Persuasion & Ebates

I was introduced to the wonders of Ebates by a former coworker and at first I was apprehensive because it just sounded weird. But once I became accustomed to it, I was hooked. I tried to get the AntiCouric on board since she’s a classic cheapskate, but she balked at first. (When she decided she wanted to buy this as a birthday present to herself,  though, she changed her tune.) Now, I’m here to explain it to the rest of you.

Ebates is like a portal. A portal that gives you pretty, pretty money. Once you have a log-in and account, you go to the Ebates site and search for your favorite store such as Banana Republic or Target. Then, you click on a link and Ebates opens that store’s site and attaches a “ticket” number to it. You then shop and purchase through that store’s site. However, you then get credited with a percentage of your purchase price in your Ebates account (anywhere from 1-25%). Ebates will then give you that money back via Paypal or a snailmail check–your choice. I’ve made back almost $100 in less than a year and a half.

All you have to do is shop “through” the Ebates site (which takes a bit to get in the habit of doing)–they don’t charge you anything. In fact, when you first sign up and make your first purchase, they will give you a gift such as $5 or a $10 gift certificate somewhere to a small handful of stores. You also can get cash back for referring friends…if you refer a crapton of friends, you can win prizes like an iPad or a vacation. The percentage you get back can even vary day to day–one day Target will be say, 2% and then on special days it might be 10%, so if you shop smart, you can earn a lot more back. Ebates will also tell you of coupon codes and sales as well, which saves even more duckets.

There are over 1200 stores on there–including some we all couldn’t give two cents about–but just about every store from J Crew to Ebay to Macy’s to Apple to major travel sites like Travelocity can be found on there. If you can earn a few dollars back on a vacation or a new computer, you’re doing pretty well.

So what the hell are you waiting for? Are you a lazy cheapskate? Sign up…

Anti-Couric & Upromise

Part of the reason I was hesitant to sign-up with Ebates was that I already used Upromise, which is more or less the same thing except the money you earn back from your online purchases is either put toward saving for college, or as in my case, paying off your students loans.

So, this is a good way for people with kids to start thinking about saving without doing much work. Personally, I earned about $36 in a year to put toward getting UConn off my back. Here’s the thing I particularly like about Upromise (*hint hint Ebates*): you can install a toolbar in your browser that automatically tells you how much you can earn back on a particular site, and–even better–automatically saves you that money. Meaning, you don’t have to go to the Upromise site first–that little toolbar does all the work for you. Just shop as usual! And if you’re smart like me, you’ll go to your Nana’s house, install the toolbar on her browser and start using other people’s online shopping habits to your benefit.

With Upromise you can also sign up credit and debit cards, as well as those store cards you swipe at the grocery and convenience stores to get sales. So, if I use my AmEx to buy shoes online I get money, but if I use it to go out to dinner, I am still earning toward my Upromise account.

Now, I’m wondering if I go to the Ebates website on my browser with the Upromise toolbar, do I earn toward both accounts… OMG… this is so meta it hurts.

Get over to Upromise, download the toolbar, and then head over to Ebates…you might just be a millionaire before the weekend is over.