I consider myself a savvy shopper, and I'm definitely a girl who LOVES saving money and scoring good deals — especially on makeup. Because of that, I've done my research and discovered lots of helpful tips that have saved me thousands of dollars through the years! Today I'm sharing my favorites. Use these shopping hacks to save money online, and then put your saving towards a fun vacation or deposit them straight into your retirement fund!
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small referral fee from purchases at no cost to you. You can read our affiliate policy here.
The Top Shopping Hacks to Save Money Online
Sign up for store mailing lists.
It's a common practice for retailers to provide a one-time coupon code when you sign up for their email list. It's usually good for a percentage off your first purchase. Sign up for the list, get the coupon, and then unsubscribe if you want.
Fill — then abandon — your shopping cart.
Ever put an item in your cart then get distracted and walk away from your computer? Chances are good you received an email later reminding you about your saved item. It's a killer way to score deals and a method we use all the time. Here's how you do it:
- Create an account with the store from which you plan to make a purchase and make sure you provide your email address (this part is essential).
- Log into your account before filling your cart.
- Fill your shopping cart with the items you want, and then exit out of the site.
- Wait a day or two. More often than not, you'll receive a reminder email begging you to complete your order — along with a discount code as additional incentive to return to the site.
- We do this with stores where we shop frequently and don't mind staying signed up to receive their emails.
Register for cash back sites.
- Ebates – Depending upon how frequently you shop, you can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year in cash back rewards with Ebates. (Yes, you read that right…thousands. We call it “happy mail” every time we receive a check from them.) Ebates is LEGIT!! Their app is 5-star rated, the company has been around since 1998, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. If you're not using them yet, you're basically throwing away free money every time you shop online. Plus, if you sign up now through this link, you'll receive a $10 cash bonus on your first purchase of $25! Here are a few of our favorite makeup retailers, plus the percentage of cash back you'll receive by shopping their sites through Ebates:
- ULTA Beauty – 3% cash back
- Sephora – 3% cash back
- bareMinerals – 4% cash back
- BH Cosmetics – 5% cash back
- Laura Mercier – 6% cash back
- MAC Cosmetics – 3% cash back
- Swagbucks, LeMoney, TopCashBack, and Piggy are additional cash back sites. We haven't tested them yet, so we can't provide feedback on them. Comment below if you have any experience with them!
Request a coupon code.
Use the handy little “live chat” button in the lower corner of (most) websites to inquire about discounts. Request free shipping during a chat and you just might get it! It's actually surprising how often this works if you're nice and use good manners.
Become a shopping insider.
This is similar to creating an account with a retailer, but you're just taking it to the next level. (In relationship terms, it's like dating vs. being engaged.) For example, if you sign up for ULTA emails, you'll be the first to learn about sales and new arrivals. But when you sign up to become an Ultamate Rewards Member, you'll get next-level access to members-only sales and will earn points on every purchase. (Points you can then redeem for makeup!)
Here are our favorite rewards programs:
- Ultamate Rewards
- Get a free gift on your birthday.
- Earn double points during your entire birthday month.
- Get fun 2x, 3x, and 5x point day alerts via email.
- Redeem points for product all year long!
- Spend $450/year and get promoted to Platinum status. You'll get a $10 certificate on your birthday, earn extra points with each purchase, and get Platinum Perks year round.
- Sephora Beauty Insider
- Earn points on every purchase.
- Points never expire. You can trade them in for deluxe samples and limited edition sets.
- Look for Bonus Days to double, triple, and even quadruple your points.
- Get upgraded to a VIB Rouge member by spending $350/year. Spend more than $1000/year and get private access to special sales.
- Nordstrom Rewards
- Get early access to sales, like the yearly Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
- Earn 1 point for every dollar spent via cash or check.
- Earn 2 points for every dollar spent via a Nordstrom credit or debit card.
- Receive a $20 gift card to spend in-store every time you accumulate 2000 points.
- Rack up points quickly by shopping on double & triple points days.
- Urban Outfitters Rewards
- Get early access to sales.
- Get deeper discounts during sales.
- Earn points towards future purchases.
- Get a present on your birthday and half-birthday.
Bookmark daily sales pages.
Let others do the hard work for you. For example, here on our website we have a Current Sales page that allows you to find deals from multiple retailers in one place. Since we follow so many makeup brands on social media we often hear about sales in advance, but we realize not everyone follows those brands as closely as we do. To help you out, we update our page daily with all the new makeup sales we hear about.
Want More Tips? Here Are A Few Additional Hacks to Save Money Online
Register for text notifications.
Email isn't the only way to receive coupon codes! You can sign up to receive text alerts from your favorite stores, too. ULTA Beauty offers promotions and coupons via text message, and stores like Victoria's Secret and American Eagle commonly send notifications about sales. (Only choose this option if you have a cell plan with unlimited text messaging!)
Search for coupon codes.
Right before you checkout online, check the following sites to see if the retailer you're purchasing from offers current coupon codes:
Add a browser extension.
Honey, Amazon Assistant, and Ebates are a few of the most popular browser extensions for Google Chrome. Extensions run in the background, then automatically find and apply the best coupons at checkout. The benefit of browser extensions is that you don't have to leave the site you're on to look for coupon codes like you do when you search for coupon codes at RetailMeNot, SlickDeals, etc. [Note: Find your favorite extension and stick with it, because you can't combine programs. We use Ebates.]
Retailers love using hashtags to connect via social media, and savvy shoppers often search specific hashtags when bargain hunting. Look for the following hashtags on Instagram or Twitter to score last-minute deals:
Register for shopping alert sites.
- Shoptagr – Save any item you like, from any store, and Shoptagr sends an alert when that item goes on sale or comes back in stock in the size and color you want. Learn more about Shopatgr in this post.
Stores often reward loyal followers by offering coupon codes on their Facebook or Twitter accounts, so it's worth scanning their accounts just prior to completing your online order.
Sign up for Groupon & Living Social.
If you're seeking local deals, consider signing up for Groupon or LivingSocial. Local businesses offer major discounts through these deal sites, but the offers are usually for a limited time only. Make sure to use your deal before it expires or you'll forfeit your money!
Bonus: When you sign up for Ebates you'll get 4% cash back at Living Social and 6% cash back at Groupon. That's on top of the savings you already get from shopping those discount sites!
Do you have any hacks to save money online that I didn't mention here? If so, let us know below so we can test them out. We love any tips that help us save money! And please share the pin on Pinterest if you found these tips helpful.
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