Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
Save money or even make extra cash with online shopping. With lots of shops closed right now, and only essential, infrequent visits to the supermarkets permitted, buying online is going to be more popular than ever at the moment.
So if you are buying lots online, you might as well make some money back! This could be with discount codes, vouchers, or cashback. There are plenty of free trials out there too, so read on for the best of them!
Remember to treat things that come through the post with care. To be extra safe, ideally leave any items aside in a safe area, remove outer packaging, and clean whatever you can with a soapy cloth or 70% alcohol. Also wear disposable gloves if possible, and wash hands thoroughly after. This will help keep you safe whenever you’re handling things that others have touched during the pandemic. Also stay up to date with NHS advice.
Also, if you fall within the definition of extremely vulnerable, make sure you’re registered on the government site. This means you can get extra help, such as priority grocery deliveries at home. Of course, this isn’t applicable to most people.
But if you are particularly vulnerable right now you should be making the most of the extra help. This includes elderly people and those with certain medical conditions. So if you’re not sure if you qualify, do check.
To get started, make an account with them and then check out the retailers they’re partnered with. Click through to the shops, and when you’ve made a purchase you’ll get some money back.
It may sound too good to be true. But how it works is Quidco and TopCashBack get money from these shops for referring you, and then pass a cut of that on to you.
Now, there’s no point making a bit of cashback if you’re spending loads more than you would anyway. £10 cashback sounds great, but not if you’ve been tempted into spending an extra £200!
But if you’re doing your regular shopping or already know you want to buy something, doing it through one of these cashback sites only makes sense.
There are so many subscription services offering free trials right now. If you’re clever about it, you can save a lot of money on entertainment!
The golden rule is to note how long the free trial lasts and to set a reminder (or three!) on your phone to make sure you cancel it before the free trial ends. Most of them make you enter your card details beforehand, so if you forget to cancel, you’ll be lumbered with a payment you don’t really want to make.
Of course, if you decide you enjoy the service a lot, then you can become a paid member. But a trial is a good way to test the waters first.
So, keep the expiration date in mind and you’ll have plenty to fill your time over the coming months. We just wrote about the Disney Plus launch in the UK, and they offer a free seven-day trial.
If you love audiobooks, Audible also offers a free trial for a whole 30 days. This is a great way to be entertained while you do a spot of gardening or cleaning, or as a way to wind down at the end of the day.
If you love games, PS Plus, Xbox Live Gold, and Nintendo Online all offer free trials ranging from 14 to 30 days. Other streaming services like BritBox, Amazon Prime, and Now TV often run free trial offers, too!
Aside from the tips already mentioned, online shopping has inherent advantages in itself. You’ll often have access to more products than the physical shops. It’s easy to filter by offers, for example 3 for 2 deals. This is especially true of shops like Waitrose, M&S, and Boots. And if you have a Boots Advantage Card or other store loyalty card, make sure you link it to your online account if possible to earn those points. Currys PC World is another great one if you’re buying electronics.
For some people, it can also be easier to budget when shopping online. You can see the total before you commit to buying the items, and can swap items in and out to stop yourself spending too much.
Some shops also offer delivery saver options for home deliveries. This saves you a lot of money in the long term, both in time and petrol, if you’re a frequent shopper. Of course, getting home delivery slots for groceries is difficult right now for most people. But shops like Dorothy Perkins and Burton offer annual unlimited delivery for a one-off payment of around £10, which isn’t much if you buy from them often.
Honey is an excellent tool that automatically searches for coupons and applies them to your shopping. It runs in the background, so you don’t even have to think about it. It’ll let you know if it’s found any vouchers and update your basket based on the new discount.
It’s a no-brainer, because it saves you money wherever possible when shopping online with no added effort on your part. Just download the browser extension for your computer, or the app on your phone, and follow the simple instructions.
Examples of online stores and companies that Honey can find discounts for include Amazon, PlayStation Store, Etsy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and many more.
If you don’t fancy installing Honey, you can check for discounts yourself on VoucherCodes.
Our final tip is one that involves a little self control, but can help avoid buyer’s remorse in the long run. Whenever you’re buying something non-essential online (i.e. a new outfit or gadget), take a step back and think. Can you really afford it? Would you rather have the item or the money? If possible, leave it in your online basket overnight. If you still really want it the next day and you can afford it, then buy it. If not, don’t.
This isn’t about constant sacrifice. We all deserve a few treats now and then! But if you often find yourself overspending and have wardrobes full of junk, taking some time to really think about your purchases can save you money in the long run.
Earn Shopping Vouchers with Online Surveys
Another way to make the most of your time at home – and save money with online shopping – is with surveys. Sites like Swagbucks are an easy way to make a few quid here and there with online surveys. This quickly adds up – and you can convert your Swagbucks into online shopping vouchers, too. For just a few minutes each day, the pounds quickly add up!
You’re not going to get rich with online surveys – but they’re a great way of saving a little extra on your shopping. You could even spend the whole year building up your Swagbucks, and using the large payout at the end of the year to do all of your Christmas shopping!