Applied Behavior Science for Health and Happiness
The Online Hunter-Gatherer: Find Big Shopping Savings with These Tips
The Online Hunter-Gatherer: Find Big Shopping Savings with These Tips

The Online Hunter-Gatherer: Find Big Shopping Savings with These Tips

Honeycomb (4)Hi, I’m Amy and I have a problem. I love to shop online and I especially love getting a great deal. I attribute it to evolutionary psychology: Instead of going out into the savanna to kill my dinner, I go online to hunt bargain buys.

If you’re like me and love to shop online, then you want ways to get the best possible price. Here are some of my best tips.

Google for promos

Honeycomb (1)This one is easy–go to Google and search for the name of the retailer you’re looking to buy from along with the phrase “promo code.” “Coupon code” also works. There are many sites, including Retail Me Not and, that aggregate current promotions from a variety of online retailers. You can often find free shipping or a percent discount using this method.

Google Shopping


Example search results from Google Shopping.
Example search results from Google Shopping.

A quick and easy tactic to find the best price on a product is to Google its name, then select “shopping” for the result type. Google will then show you listings for that product from various retailers. You can sort by price and even find where that product is in stock near you, in case you want to shop in person.

Spend to save

HoneycombA sneaky trick to save money on a major purchase (think furniture, home decor, or appliances) is to buy a coupon for a percentage off. You can go to eBay to search for discounts for sale. I recently bought a 10% off coupon for a few dollars on eBay that netted me hundreds of dollars of savings on a dining room table set.

Just be careful that the coupon doesn’t need to be used with a specific credit card, or you may find yourself out of luck.

Apps and alerts

Honeycomb (2)If having a shopping-specific app on your phone is your jam, there are lots to choose from. I don’t personally use any specific shopping apps, but there are tons of lists of the best ones online (like here and here). There are also web-based alert services you can sign up for that will email you when prices drop on your most coveted items (see here for a listing of some).

The one area where I have used alerts to find good prices is airfares. You can often set your alert level directly from the airline site, if you have a preferred carrier. I also have alerts set with Kayak, and have used Yapta to track trips (you can get refunds if the price drops after you purchase!).

Benefits on the side

Honeycomb (3)You can also save on your retail purchases by using benefits that come with frequent flyer or credit card accounts. Sometimes these benefits directly reduce what you pay on your purchase. For example, as an American Express cardholder I was able to sign up for a free ShopRunner membership that nets me two-day shipping at a number of sites. I’m also able to opt into savings at specific retailers when I’m logged into my AmEx account or by tweeting @AmexOffers.

Some memberships net you other benefits from your online shopping. One I like is clicking into a retailer’s site through Delta Airlines’ SkyMiles Shopping (not to be confused with SkyMall, RIP). Most of the big online shopping sites are listed, and by clicking through from the Delta portal, I automatically earn frequent flier miles along with my purchase.

What are some of your favorite tips for scoring a bargain online?