7 Clever Little Ways to Save Big on Online Shopping - Broke in London

7 Clever Little Ways to Save Big on Online Shopping

Guest post by Leif Kristjansen

When saving money online, patience is a tool stronger than any coupon code or flash sale could ever claim to be.

Retailers are betting on each shopper’s eagerness to finish the checkout process as quickly as possible before an item’s availability goes poof. That means they’re counting on shoppers to not dig around for coupons, alternative shipping options or competitor deals too deeply.

However, learning to resist finalising purchases in one adrenaline-filled shopping session means saving money almost every single time. This is where understanding how to be a patient, savvy online shopper can slash prices significantly even when there’s no sale in sight.

1. Wait Them Out: Keep Items Lingering in a Digital Cart

When shopping to save, keeping items in a cart while resisting the temptation to slap that “checkout now” button is everything. This applies even when there’s already a coupon code in the promo box. The reason? The vendor is probably willing to send an even better offer if it looks like the cart has been abandoned!

Generally, major retailers have timers that watch how long each item is left in a cart on a registered account. They send out email reminders about “parked” items once a few hours have passed. However, this is not the time to go back to finish the purchase.

Retailers are just trying to nudge shoppers without actually giving anything up at this point.

Retailers will often introduce a bigger coupon or price slash in the second email. However, it’s still not time to pounce.

It typically takes getting to the third email before the vendor will whip out a free shipping offer or big discount!

Unless you feel like you already have a great coupon in the holster you should always fill up your cart and sit on it for a while. You’ll suffer no losses and most stores will start to panic that they will lose the sale. It even feels a little empowering to secretly be holding all the cards.

The real kicker is that you don’t even need a big spend to make this work. Some marketing guru surely automated these emails on the stores end, so you just need to load up, sit back and relax.

2. Wait yourself out too!

An even more powerful effect of sitting on your loaded up cart is that by sleeping on a purchase you can kill off your impulse spending urges and maybe reduce your cart size entirely.

Impulse spending is a huge deal and adds up a lot on your carts total. You also have to know that big online stores have boiled down impulse purchases to a science. There are real papers from real universities about how to maximize these purchases!

Maybe you feel impervious to these tricks but if you sleep on your cart for a few days, likely deleting a few items will feel pretty easy before you check out.

3. Dynamic Pricing! Beat it!

Dynamic pricing has been the bane of bargain shoppers ever since it was introduced a few years ago. This is a process that adjusts the prices shoppers see depending on their locations, browsing histories and spending histories.

While most industries use dynamic pricing, the airline industry is the most notorious for changing pricing drastically depending on where people are shopping from. However, this system can be outsmarted.

Here are some tips for outsmarting dynamic pricing:

  • Shop in your browser’s private mode.
  • Jump on a completely new device or profile when making final purchases.
  • Try out a few different zip codes to see how pricing shifts.
  • Ask a friend in a different region to check pricing on the same product or even order for you if it’s convenient.

4. The simple and slow route: Get Acquainted With Cash-Back sites

Using cashback sites is the no-brainer way to earn money back. While clunky, these sites really do save people money.

While you may not be saving money quickly you will always save if you go through the effort of using them. Just be careful about the workload you are getting into when you are gung-ho about signing up. At least after you start using them think about whether the savings are worth the effort you are putting in.

5. Make the Drive: Ship to Store to Avoid Shipping Costs

Free shipping isn’t always in the cards for even the savviest of coupon-slinging shoppers. However, this sometimes overlooked hack makes it possible to get “free shipping” on nearly every purchase when dealing with major retail chains that have physical locations.

When browsing, make sure that the “ship to store” box is checked to display products that are available to be picked up in person. All shoppers can use this to get free shipping if they’re willing to make a trip to the store.

6. A Little Help From Some Digital Friends: Get the Best Coupon Applied Automatically

Opening up a million windows on a browser to try to track down coupon codes can make online shopping frustrating. What’s more, countless coupon sites stay in business by collecting codes that are mostly expired.

That means a wild goose chase, disappointment and wasted time for shoppers!

Browser add-ons like Honey and Pouch can help with that because they find and run through all possible coupon codes in seconds. Both work with thousands of websites. Users also sometimes get exclusive deals.

7. Pick the Biggest Day for Savings: Change your routine

Shopping online on the weekends usually means getting ripped off or at least having a bad selection. It turns out prices for online products go up significantly on the weekends. What’s the cheapest day of the week to shop online?

Thursday is bargain day in the online retail universe, but depending on what you are buying the best day of the week bounces around.

Any day toward the end of the week if often the best time to pick up deals. That’s because shoppers have more free time to shop online as they head into the weekend and they might suck up all the good inventory.

A Savvy Shopper’s Toolkit: Patience, Timing and Technology

Saving while shopping online takes a combination of personal willpower and easy-to-use apps. There’s really no single formula for saving online because various retailers use different algorithms to present shoppers with tailored offers. However, the universal rule is to never simply accept a list price on its face without assuming it can be brought down.


Leif Kristjansen is the co-founder of FiveYearFIREescape.com where he and his wife write about finances and early retirement for busy people. In their early 30s, they even retired from their corporate 9-5 and want to teach you how you can do the same. They have kids and a house in a high cost of living city but managed to succeed via saving skills and rental houses.
Twitter: @5yearFIREescape