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3 sure-fire ways to save big money online shopping this holiday season

3 sure-fire ways to save big money online shopping this holiday season
© Alexandru Maricel Catalin | Dreamstime

All the little ghosts and goblins have finished Trick-or-Treating for Halloween and are probably half-way through their bucket of candy by now. You know what that means? Yep, the holiday season is upon us.

Our goal this year should be to try and get ready for Christmas before Christmas Eve. This means we need to start holiday shopping ASAP. You're also going to want to find some good deals without having to fight the massive crowds at the mall.

That's why you need to know about these three sure-fire ways to save big money online shopping this holiday season.

Honey

Savvy online shoppers already know the value of coupon or promo codes, which you can enter during the checkout phase of your shopping experience. But all too often, we don't have a current coupon code. That is SO frustrating!

You just know that you could save some money. Or get free shipping. Or a free membership. But how do you find the current codes? You'll probably do an online search, but that can be time-consuming and might not turn up what you're looking for.

That's why you need Honey, a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

Honey is a service that makes it super easy to save money and time. It automatically finds coupon codes for the site you're shopping on and applies them to your order when you check out. Saving you money and time that you would have spent searching for codes.

The service works for thousands of websites including Amazon, Nike, Bloomingdales, Kohl's and many more. From clothes to pizza, pay less for the things you're already buying online.

To get started, install the Honey browser extension. A gold button will be placed in your browser bar. While shopping at a supported site, click on the gold button to view all available sales and coupon codes.

During the checkout process, simply click the "Find Savings" button in the browser extension and Honey will automatically find and apply the best coupon(s) for you. It collects data necessary to save you money but doesn't sell it, so it's safe for you to use.

Click here to visit the Honey site where you can add the extension to your browser. It's totally free to use!

InvisibleHand

Imagine this. You're shopping online, find the perfect Christmas gift and excitedly click "purchase." You couldn't be happier.

Until later, when you find out the same item was much cheaper from another retailer. This is extremely frustrating and seems to happen all the time. Now, there is a way to prevent this from ever happening again.

InvisibleHand is a browser extension that discreetly notifies you if the product or flight you're shopping for is available from another retailer or travel site for less. The notification provides an easy to use button that links you straight through to the relevant page on the competing website. There's also a drop-down menu, so you can compare prices on other sites.

InvisibleHand works like an online personal shopping assistant. This browser add-on compares prices across dozens of online stores. That includes big names like Best Buy, Home Depot, Target and Walmart. You'll also see results from specialty stores.

Simply search for a product on your favorite site. When you reach a specific product page, InvisibleHand jumps into action. A strip at the top of the window will appear and shows you how much you could save at another store.

Here are some of the InvisibleHand features:

  • Stays out of the way - InvisibleHand remains invisible until it finds a deal on a product you're shopping for
  • Real-time prices - Unlike price comparison sites, InvisibleHand refreshes its product prices every time you use it
  • Find cheaper flights - It automatically searches for cheaper flights when you're looking for them
  • Works with Google - When you Google a product, InvisibleHand will automatically show the lowest real-time prices
  • Reveals hidden prices - It knows the price even when the retailer tries to hide it (this feature works in the U.S. only)
  • It learns as you go - InvisibleHand will search for deals, even when you browse for products it hasn't seen before

According to InvisibleHand, the extension is responsible for a total savings of over $1 billion, with an average savings of $7.55. The InvisibleHand extension is free to use and is compatible with Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Click here to visit the GetInvisibleHand.com page to add the extension. The page will automatically detect your browser and show you the compatible link.

Get creative

When you've exhausted all other resources and haven't been able to find a great deal, it's time to get a little creative. Here's a little trick that has worked for me in the past.

Abandon your online shopping cart. That's right, after finding an item that you actually want to purchase, put it into your cart and head to the checkout page. Then, without completing the purchase, close the browser window.

The idea is that by having the item in your cart, the retailer knows that you are interested in buying it. Since the retailer has your email address from the checkout process, you will most likely get an email reminder that you've left an item in your cart.

Many times, the retailer will include a coupon for a discount on the item. The last time I did this, I received an email offering 20 percent off to come back and finish the order. This doesn't work every time, but it's worth a shot at some pretty solid savings.

Another creative idea is to sign up for loyalty programs. Many retailers have rewards programs if you join their members' club.

Once you join, they normally offer a big discount on your first purchase. You'll also receive emails about sales and promotions throughout the year (you can opt out of these if they start sending you too much stuff).

Beware of memberships that require you to sign up for an auto-pay system. One membership program I'm enrolled in charges my debit card monthly but I can skip as many months as I want and delete my account at any time.

Bonus tip:

Here's a little-known trick that has a good success rate. Get chatty.

Yep, it's that easy. Go to the retailer's online help chat and ask for a discount. You might be surprised at how often they will comply.

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