This is a bit out of the ordinary for the sort of post I write, but I’ve had a lot of people ask how I get things cheap. There’s a little bit of effort invovled – but not that much, and generally the effort is far less than the money saved.
Here is my ultimate list of methods to purchase goods online, and get the biggest discounts possible. I’ve been using and refining these for many years and saved lots of money compared to walking into a store.
These options aren’t difficult to use, and combining these methods together should help you reduce your overall spend:
OzBargain – A community driven site where users post and vote for bargains and deals discovered.
Visit this page regularly to keep an eye on deals that pop up. Use the ‘deals’ section rather than the main page, as the main page only shows items with lots of votes. Use the search function when looking for an item to see if there’s any existing deals (use the All Nodes > Type: Deals (No Expired) advanced option to only see active deals). Failing that, check expired deals to see what sort of prices may be possible, or if it’s worth waiting for another future deal to pop up.
Cashback Schemes – Where retailers pay the site to advertise, and they give the users a portion of that payment.
CashRewards^ is the one I use, but there’s also Topcashback amongst others. Sign up for this, and use the Chrome extension. A certain percentage of purchases you make on supported websites gets credited back to you, which you can transfer back to your bank account when you have enough. You don’t really have to think about it after that – when you go to a website that CashRewards supports (and there’s a LOT of them, including major ones like eBay, Telstra, Virgin, Microsoft, CatchOfTheDay etc) it’ll pop up asking you to activate the cashback. Sites like aliexpress offer 10%, which is a reasonable return and should be considered when trying to find the cheapest price possible for an item, as well as automatic money back for random online shopping.
Lasoo – This site hosts a lot of Australian stores’ catalogues online, which are searchable.
When looking for an item, go here and search to see if there’s any good deals on it. It’s a quick way to see if a retailer has a good price on an item you’re going to buy.
Rewards Card – A credit card from a financial institution that rewards points for each dollar spent.
When doing online purchases, you should be earning points of some sort. Points Hack is a good website to see what deals are happening. Find a credit card that doesn’t cost anything to maintain, or the costs are nullified by their benefits (e.g. an American Express^ is one card I have which gets 100,000 points on signup, and up to 2 points per $1 spent. It costs $395 a year, but it also includes a $400 travel voucher a year and a bunch of other benefits – so I end up saving money). Also link up your points earning card to Paypal, so when doing purchases through that you’ll still earn points.
Frequent Flyer Points – Airlines or hotels who have their own points system that can be used to receive discounts or spend on items.
Those reward cards sometimes convert straight to a Frequent Flyer program, or they might have their own points system where the points can then be sent off to one of several options. Don’t transfer unless you want to spend the points, as often there will be promotions where a bonus is paid when transferring the points ( e.g. 15% extra points from Virgin). If you know you’ll use them later with that company, transfer when there’s a bonus. The points can then be used against airfares or their online stores, and really it’s points you paid nothing for.
Discount Codes and Coupons – Usually a code to enter at the time of purchasing an item to receive extra discount.
Most websites have a code option, and it’s worth checking to see if one exists when doing an order. Honey^ is another Chrome addin that is community driven, and able to test and apply all known codes automatically when it recognises a website, to see if you can get any discount. There’s also some other sites it’ll give you points for when doing a purchase, which can be redeemed for Amazon credit. Failing that, there’s coupon sites such as RetailMeNot where you can search for the site you’re on to see what codes might be available. I generally do a Google search for the site I’m on like ‘Coles Online Code’ and check the first few results.
Specialty Search Websites – A site that indexes certain types of items to quickly find the cheapest option.
You may have to go searching for these. For computer parts, I use Static Ice which shows in price order the results from many different stores. For board games, I use Board Game Search. It’s worth noting that you may find cheaper from the other methods above, but it’s an easy way to price check.
Price Matching – Some retailers will offer a price match guarantee which can be worth your time.
EB Games is a good example here – their normal prices aren’t very good, but they’ll price match with almost any advertised price. If it’s more convenient to go to their store than another, it can save you a bunch of hassle. OfficeWorks is even better as they’ll beat any advertised price by 5%. If you find a great online deal, but Officeworks has the item too, you can easily save another 5%. On big ticket items that can easily be worth the hassle of going into a store.
Gift Cards – Cards that can only be spent at certain stores
The cards themselves provide no extra value, but often they can be bought for less than their face value. For example, WISH cards which are redeemable at the Woolworths group of stores can be bought for 5% less than their value through a variety of different methods, possibly through a service you already use. 5% off your groceries each week adds up fairly quickly for very little effort.
Entertainment Book – A book full of discounts
There’s a few of these around, but the Entertainment Book is one of the most popular. Although it costs $70, using it twice when going out for dinner will generally cover the cost of the book. Beyond that, you’re saving money. Meal deals are usually 2 for 1 or 25% off which are reasonable savings. You’ll also get those gift cards at 5% off (e.g. JB Hifi, BWS, Jetstar ) which again can pay for itself very quickly. If you have to fly Jetstar, it’s nice to get a discount.
- Overseas Fees – When making a purchase from overseas, it’s often in a a foreign currency. Credit card companies normally charge an extra fee when purchasing in a different currency than AU. There’s often bargains to be found overseas, which are much cheaper (even after shipping!) than anything you can find locally. For this reason, it’s good to have a credit card that won’t charge you extra to do this. The two favorites are the Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard and the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard – both have no fees on overseas purchases, and no annual fees. Amazon in different countries often comes through with great pricing, and is worth keeping an eye on.
If you think I’ve missed something or have anything to share, please comment so I can review and update this list. I’ve avoided things that require lots of effort to maintain.
^ These are affiliate links, meaning I get a few $ if you use them. If you don’t want to use those links, go to the site manually – but there’s no negative impact to you for doing so.