April 9, 2012

Crawfish Boil + Online Shopping Tips & Tricks

On Saturday, my family and I celebrated my nephew's first birthday with a extra delicious crawfish boil.  JET is turning 1 at the end of this week, and I can't believe he's already so big!

On an unrelated note, I wanted to confess that I am an online shopping junkie.  Actually, I much prefer shopping online to shopping in stores; I find it convenient, stress free, and available to me at any time; plus, everyone loves receiving mail.  There are some downsides to online shopping (no chance to try on or examine the item prior to purchase, item may not meet expectations, etc.), but overall, it's my favorite way to shop, and I wanted to share some of my best tips for shopping online with you.

Tips for Shopping Online

1. Shop through a cashback site.  Your credit card company or bank might offer cashback for purchasing through their shopping portal.  I've had a lot of success with Ebates & Mr. Rebates.  (Referral links. If you sign up for Ebates via this link, then we'll each receive $5 or a $10 giftcard.).  Last quarter alone, I received a check for $74.53 from Ebates, so needless to say, I'm a huge fan.

2. Never pay for shipping.  Reach the free ship minimum offered by many retailers by simply purchasing an extra item or two; I don't want to encourage mindless consumerism, but I'd much prefer to put my money towards a desired instead of shipping charges.

If you have a B&M store you can also choose the "ship to store" option, and the retailer will ship your items to your local brick and mortar store at no extra cost to you.  Plus, if you decide to return the items, then you are generally not refunded shipping fees.  Alternatively, you can look for free shipping codes at sites like FreeShipping.org.

Amazon.com also Amazon Prime accounts if you are an "Amazon Mom"; paid Amazon Prime accounts are $79/year.2. Keep in mind that everything (well, nearly everything) can be purchased at a discount.  Even high end items that never seem to go on sale, like Burberry trenches, Manolos, etc.

3. If you avoid online shopping because you're apprehensive about how things will fit, then consider shopping at retailers that provide hassle free returns at no cost to you.  And most retailers with B&M stores  (Gap Family of Stores, Macy's, Kohl's, Forever 21, Target, Lands' End, etc.) will process your returns in store. My favorite retailers that offer free returns include

- Nordstrom
- Zappos (1 year return policy)
- Endless (1 year return policy)
- Sephora (free returns, but free ship minimum is $50)

There is also a service called ShopRunner, which provides two-day shipping & returns for a few different retailers; this is a fairly new service, and my credit card company was offering card holders the opportunity to try a free one-year subscription.  I've used it a few times, and it works just fine, but I don't shop ShopRunner retailers frequently.  Check it out here, if you're interested and ShopRunner also offers a 30-day free trial.

4. Get discounts!  Nearly everything goes on sale or can be had at a discounted price--even those items that never seem to go on sale from Hunter boots to Manolos & Burberry coats.  The easiest way to get a discount are coupon codes.  In order to access these codes, you can do one or many of the following:

- Sign up to get e-mailed coupons to your favorite stores. 
- Or if you don't want junk mail sent to your account, then find a coupon code at sites like SlickDealsRetailMeNot.com or Hip2Save.
- You can also check the social media sites of your favorite store.  Facebook pages and Twitter feeds often offer up exclusive deals & coupon codes.
- If you have a smart phone or tablet, then download your favorite store's apps.  Stores like H&M, Sephora, and many others offer exclusive promotions for customers that download their apps.

5. Use services like Savvy Circle or Sees the Sale to keep you updated on particular items that you're interested in.  Simply create a wishlist, and when items go on sale or are discounted, Savvy Cirle or Sees the Sale will send you an e-mail.

I hope you found that helpful, and please share your favorite shopping tips with us in the comments!

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