Shopping Online: Save Money and Get Free Rewards!by Arielle Schussler on Oct, 02 2012
My dad tells me all the time that I have a habit of living “outside of my means.” Now while I do budget food, rent, electricity, and TV/ Internet into my spending, I cannot help the fact that I loooooove to shop. Like legit shop- ‘til- you- drop- intense- haulage status. Considering that I do not have any credit cards (I don’t trust myself at ALL) and I do live on a fixed income, I had to find a way to get my shopping ya-ya’s out while not going broke/ bankrupt. Thus, I present to you the fruit of my diligent search to remain a shopaholic… on a budget. The following are my top shopping apps/ websites that will save you money without severely cramping your style.
Description- A (free) members only website (and app!) where every day there are new limited time sales events with the top brands in fashion, make up, shoes, accessories, bags, and home décor. Such brands include Juicy Couture, Steve Madden, American Apparel, Ugg, Urban Decay, Betsey Johnson, and many more at the fraction of retail prices.
Personal Experience- I have purchased Betsey Johnson sunglasses and Pixi Cosmetics from this website. Everything went smoothly and I received my orders pretty quickly. Another great thing about Hautelook is that they are owned by Nordstrom, so for the Nordstrom Anniversary, I got a free (by email, no purchase necessary) gift card offer from Hautelook that had a mystery amount (from $10- $1000) that could be redeemed at any Nordstrom. My gift card ended up having $20 on it, so it was like free money.
Pros- If you refer a friend, you get $10 dollars off your next purchase. Plus, there are really great sales on here. If you take the time to sift through everything, then you’ll find expensive handbags and clothing at 75% off, which makes purchasing designer brands tolerable instead of painful. Shipping and handling is reliable and gets to you within 2 or so weeks (massive upgrade from most eBay purchases). Another great thing about Hautelook is that they carry lesser-known brands as well, so you can always discover a new favorite designer or label.
Cons- They open new events at 8 am so often times the best deals will sell out within the first half an hour or so. Plus, shipping and handling is at a $7.95 flat rate, so if you score a pair of awesome Ray- Bans for $25, you end up paying about $35 or so (with tax). For me, that usually means that I won’t buy just a single item if it is priced under $10, as I will pretty much break even. Another con is that you will get TONS of Hautelook emails (any where from 1-2 a day), letting you know the upcoming deals.
Description- A location specific website (and app!) that gives you deals on things near to you. Deals include local restaurants and salons (like Albatross Pub, Naan N’ Curry, SF Soup Kitchen, and North Beach Pizza), goods (like electronics, jewelry, Apple accessories, sunglasses, and cologne/ perfume), travel (trip packages), and nearby entertainment. Like Hautelook, Groupon is a free members only website, so you just have to sign up with your email and then you are good to shop away.
Personal Experience- I have purchased a San Francisco Soup Company Groupon and a CREAM Groupon ($5 for $10 worth of product). All I had to do was give the barcode I was sent to the cashier when I checked out and it was pretty much that easy. I just signed up for a new account recently and I was sent a $15 off my first purchase offer, so when I bought a genuine gemstone kaleidoscope necklace (retail at $60 for $14), I basically got the necklace for free (no shipping and handling!).
Pros- Groupon has a pretty user- friendly thing going (for their app). They can have your credit card on file so you just click on an offer and finalize a purchase without having to enter in your credit card information all the time. After you make your purchase, the barcode is automatically saved in your profile and you can bring it up whenever you want. Another great thing about the Groupon app is that it finds your location so you can get deals close to you – like right now Naan N’ Curry is having a deal for $15 worth of food at $9 until 10 pm (Oct. 1). This basically means that if you are having a mad hankering for foodage, but you want a deal, you can check out your Groupon app and see if you can find something nearby and cheap without having to settle on poor quality eats (Yelp has a similar feature if you use their “Find Deals” option). Plus, you get to try out new restaurants you may have never heard of before without having to commit to spending the full price of your entrée or drinks. There is also a Groupon Rewards program, but I have yet to sign up for this myself.
Cons- The app will send you TONS of push notifications, which is pretty annoying. Every day it’ll say that I have 47 new notifications… but you can disable push notifications on your settings if that bothers you too much. Other than that, the prices are decent, but the options for clothing/ jewelry are pretty limited. Groupon would appeal more to someone who is into electronics and food than anything else.
3) Living Social
Description- A website (and app) very much like Groupon. It has local deals and offers that include restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, getaways, and goods.
Personal Experience- To be honest, I have not used Livingsocial, especially since it is so much like Groupon. However, my dad and some of my friends have used it the same way one uses Groupon and they seem to like it well enough.
Pros-If you like Groupon, might as well spring for the free download that is LivingSocial. Since it is so similar, if you don’t like the deals on one, you could always check out the deals on the other and go from there. LivingSocial is a little more local- oriented than Groupon, so you will find more obscure locally based offers and deals (car- washes, festival tickets, and the like).
Cons- Like Groupon, you will receive tons of push notifications. There are less deals (in general) compared to Groupon, so I figure if you have to choose one or the other, I would suggest Groupon, especially because the goods available on LivingSocial are a little more kitschy than the name brands on Groupon. In terms of the app layout itself, I prefer the Groupon app more. It is cleaner, sleeker, and more user friendly.
4) College Budget
Description- A website that requires a “.edu” email address for membership. Unlike these other websites, CollegeBudget offers you time- sensitive deals to use on the merchant’s actual website. Most offers are 50% off prices (so like $10 for $20 or $20 for $40). Deals include Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild, Out of Print, Incase, and GreekGear.
Personal Experience-I have purchased the deals for both Out of Print (an awesome website that lets you get t- shirts, bags, and iPhone cases with classic book covers like Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye) and the Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild (an online gift shop that sells super cool stuff like Freud and Marx stuffed “animals”, Darwin and Orwell magnetic finger puppets, and mugs that change pictures when you fill them with hot water). As soon as I made the purchase, I received the codes in my email inbox. However, I have yet to use any of the codes (I think their expiration dates are a year after purchase).
Pros- Like Hautelook, if you refer a friend to Collegebudget, you will get a $5 credit. Other than that, they have a tendency to have pretty awesome deals on stuff I personally like a lot (I have been a fan of Out of Print and The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild waaay before their CollegeBudget debut).
Cons- Collegebudget has probably 10 or so deals going on at once and they do not change very often. Furthermore, they do not have an app, so you have to go on their website to check out their deals and you will be notified via email fairly often about their offers (which, again, do not change super often).
Good luck on your future (budgeted) shopping endeavors and happy shopping!