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People love finding deals that save money. Whether online or when out shopping at the local grocery store, deals bring us such joy. And while there are more ways than ever to search for deals or save money online, many people are still skeptical. Sometimes deals seem too good to be true. Other times, searching for deals can seem like more work than it’s worth.
The reality is that there’s an easy way to score discounts big and small at just about everywhere you shop.
So, what am I talking about?
Online deals are offers for discounts on almost anything you need to dole out money for. Dining out, entertainment, shopping, goods and services, travel. You name it.
In this age of digital everything, online deals are available for so many products and services. But it starts with awareness that these offers exist and some willingness to go looking for them.
Despite how easy it can be to save money this way (by printing off an offer at home or showing a digital offer when you pay), there are still some myths floating around that might cause you to part with some of your hard-earned cash if you don’t take advantage of these offers.
Myth # 1 – Online Deals Won’t Save Me Much Money
It all depends on how much you’re spending. For example, if you’re buying paint to repaint the inside of your house and you save 20% with an online offer, when the paint will cost you $400, saving $80 is nothing to sneeze at.
But, if you’re going out with your family for lunch and you save 20% on the $50 bill, that’s $10 you get to keep. Is that a significant saving? It depends on who you talk to. One thing is true for sure—do that ten times this year, and you’ll save $100. And I don’t know anyone who’d walk away from a hundred bucks. Do you?
Myth # 2 – It Takes Too Long To Find Online Deals
Did you know that the average American household spends almost $3,500 dining out each year? And this number was likely higher for families with children because this data included single people living alone and two or more people living together who share expenses (such as couples where both people work and have no children).
A couple of months ago, my hubby and I were heading out to the Village Inn for our usual breakfast, and I realized I hadn’t been looking for online deals for this. In 5 minutes (tops!), I found an offer for 20% off our total bill when I enrolled in their VIP club online with my name and email. And the offer was good for three visits this month (and more if a person chose to print and use more). That saved us $7 on our breakfast. Because we eat breakfast there more times than I care to admit, that almost adds up to a free breakfast for the 2 of us in a month.
Of course, it’s not always possible to find an online offer quickly or for places where you want to eat. However, if you’re an average household, flexible, and do a little planning ahead, you could save an average of roughly $173/year on dining out if you saved yourself just 5% of this cost . So why not have your cake…I mean keep your money and eat out too?
Myth #3 – I’ll Get Spammed Since All They Want Is My Email
Okay, this might be true. But it’s so easy to set up junk email addresses just for this purpose. And if your favorite retail sites change, opt out of the emails, and that should take care of it. If not, cancel your email address and create a new one.
I don’t find I get too many useless emails when I opt-in for online deals. If anything, the opposite happens. I end up getting notified of offers and deals I wouldn’t be aware of if I hadn’t signed up. This can really work in your favor unless you’re tempted to spend money simply because you’re getting a discount (a justification some people use to spend money, like buying something you don’t need just because it’s “on sale”).
Myth #4 – There Aren’t Online Deals For Products I Usually Buy
If you dine out, perform any home or car maintenance, or purchase products or services of any kind, this just isn’t true. Almost everything can be bought at a discount price with an online offer at some time during the year (Instant Pot on Black Friday, anyone?).
Something almost everyone needs to buy often is groceries. And the most common way to save on groceries used to be through coupons or shopping the weekly sales. Not anymore. With the rise in online grocery shopping and delivery right to your door, many companies are vying for your business by offering weekly online discount offers that can save you a chunk of money on your entire grocery bill.
This saves you time AND money—a huge win for busy families and individuals.
Myth #5 – There Aren’t Online Deals For Stores In My Area
If you live in a rural area, finding online discount offers for your local mom-and-pop store is obviously not going to fly. However, it’s pretty common for people living in smaller areas to make planned shopping trips to larger communities. This is often necessary to find items that smaller stores usually don’t carry and to save money since the cost of items in small communities is often significantly higher than it is in larger centers.
The other thing to keep in mind is that there are online deals and discount codes for online shopping as well. If you live in a rural or smaller community, you may find you do a lot of your shopping online to save money and time traveling to shop in larger cities. Why not save even more by doing a quick Internet search for discounts for your favorite businesses online?
Ways To Earn Cash Back
Not into jumping online to look for a discount offer every time you want to buy something? A great alternative is to sign up for a cash-back site like Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Setting up an account is free and relatively quick online.
Rakuten lets you save a percentage of your purchases (both online and in-store) at various businesses. Simply make a list of the merchants you shop at that are available through Rakuten. Then put a reminder on your phone or by your computer to only shop these merchants by logging into Rakuten first. Or, link a credit card or debit card to Rakuten and your favorite merchants and shop as usual in-store to earn cash-back that way too.
Rakuten is a quick and easy way to save money on all your eligible purchases through popular merchants like Amazon, Walmart, Groupon, etc. Every three months, you’re sent a check for the cash back you’ve earned, or it’s deposited into your PayPal account (whichever you set up). And if you like the site, refer your friends and receive $25 for each friend who enrolls.
If you use a credit card already to track your monthly spending or simply to collect some of the many rewards available to credit card holders, you may want to consider getting a great rewards credit card.
To get the maximum cash-back possible, track where and how much you spend on categories like restaurants, entertainment, groceries, gas, travel, etc. Then look for a card that rewards you the most for your spending in those categories.
Keep in mind that a no-fee card may or may not be the best card for you. This will depend on what cards you qualify for and how much cash-back you’re likely to earn based on your unique spending habits.
To save even more, consider stacking. Stacking refers to using more than one money-saving method on the same purchase. For example, you could apply a discount code to a purchase before you checkout on Rakuten—AND perhaps pay for your purchase with a cash-back credit card. This way, you’ll save money on the same purchase in two or more different ways, which can add up fast.
So, it’s up to you. You might not be able to print real money, but these tips are guaranteed to keep more of it in your pocket. What are you waiting for?
Leona Werezak RN, MN, is a freelance writer, nurse educator, and entrepreneur. When not busy writing or teaching, you’ll find her excitedly sharing her latest business idea or helping others save money.
What’s the best online deal you’ve ever scored? What’s your favorite cash back site, and why? Let us know in the comments below.
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