DO-IT YOURSELF CREDIT REPAIR

 

Don’t fall for scams promising easy, overnight credit repair. If you want to fix your poor credit, you can (and should) do it yourself. Follow these six simple steps to do-it-yourself credit repair.

If you’ve had an overdue student loan, years of high credit card balances, collections accounts, or even a foreclosure, unfortunately, you probably have below-average or bad credit.

With poor credit, you may not be able to get approved for new credit products like credit cards. Although you may still be able to take out an auto loan or a mortgage, you’ll pay a much higher interest rate because of your low credit score. Compared to a borrower with good credit, someone with poor credit can pay $50,000 more in interest on a mortgage. Over an entire lifetime, you could end up paying over $200,000 more in unnecessary interest just because of bad credit.

The good news is—as you should know if you’ve read Money Under 30 for a while—that you can repair your credit score all on your own. It just requires a little bit of know-how and a good bit of patience. Here are six steps towards building better credit.

1. Figure out where you stand

Before you begin do-it-yourself credit repair, you’ll want to get copies of your full credit reports from all three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).

You can get your reports truly free, once a year, at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Other websites may claim to offer free reports, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that these offers are often deceptive.

You can also try free credit score tracking apps Credit Karma or Credit Sesame to get a sense of where you stand.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. A score of between 700 and 740, depending on the scoring method used, is considered “good credit” and usually enough to qualify you for the best credit cards and lowest mortgage rates.

Related: How Credit Works: Understanding Your Report And Score

2. If you find errors, dispute them

The next step in credit repair is to dispute incorrect information on your credit report.

Errors aren’t common, but they happen. Of course, sometimes bad credit is just your fault. You shouldn’t try to argue accurate information, but if you do see errors–even small ones—it’s worth cleaning them up. Here’s how:

Once you have the copy of your full credit report in hand, check your identity information (Social Security number, spelling of your name and address), and credit history.

Review the list of credit cards, outstanding debts, and major purchases. If you see any mistakes or questionable items, make a copy of the report and highlight the error.

Next, gather any information that you have to back you up, such as bank account statements, and make copies of these as well. This is important! The credit bureaus won’t do anything without proof.

Write a letter to the specific credit reporting agency that shows the falsehood, whether it is Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Explain the mistake and include a copy of the highlighted report along with your documentation. Although certain bureaus now let you submit disputes online, it’s not a bad idea to send this letter by certified mail, and keep a copy for yourself. The reporting agency has 30 days from the receipt of your letter to respond. The Federal Trade Commission provides advice on contacting the credit bureaus about discrepancies. Here are the contact numbers and web sites for the three credit bureaus:

3. Stop the bleeding

Once you deal with any errors on your credit report, it’s time to ensure you’re not still spending more than you can afford each month.

Why is this so important? It’s because are only three simple things to do to repair bad credit:

  1. Pay all of your bills on time
  2. Pay down debt (especially credit card debt)
  3. Avoid applying for credit

But before you can do these things, you need to make sure you’re not spending more than you earn—you need a budget.

To start, review your tax returns for the past two years to get a sense of how much money you actually take home in a year.

Subtract your regular monthly expenses (rent or mortgage, car payments, and home, car and health insurance) from your current income.

Next, estimate your monthly spending habits for other expenses such as gas, groceries and entertainment. Create a limit, based on your income, of what you can spend in each of the different categories of expenses. For example, if you tend to spend $400 a month on groceries, try to stick to $300 a month on groceries by making changes like buying generic brands, using coupons, and resisting impulse purchases.

4. Pay all bills on time going forward

If you want to fix bad credit, you need to start paying all of your monthly bills on time, period!

If you’re behind on any bill, get caught up as soon as you can. On-time payments are the single most important factor to your credit score. Simply put, your credit won’t improve until you can consistently pay every bill on time.

5. Pay down credit card balances

Take charge of your credit cards by paying down their balances.

If you have any outstanding balances, make room in your budget to pay down these debts bit by bit, every month until they are gone.

Know your credit limits and make every effort to stay well under the maximum when charging items.

That’s because credit bureaus analyze your debt load as a ratio. If you charge $500 on a card which has a $1,500 limit, you’ve used 33 percent, which is better for your credit score than charging the same amount on a card which has a $1,000 limit (50 percent), both of which are better than being maxed out (100 percent).

Related: Big Fat Guide to Getting Out of Debt

Pay these credit cards down, but don’t cancel them. The total amount of available credit affects your score, even if you owe nothing.

6. Don’t apply for new credit

Finally, resist the temptation to open a new credit card, even when a store offers a discount on your purchase for doing so.

Each time you apply for credit is listed on your credit report as a “hard inquiry” and if you have too many within two years, your credit score will suffer. In general, a consumer with good credit can apply for credit a few times each year before it begins to affect their credit score. If you’re already starting with below-average credit, however, these inquiries may have more of an impact on your score and delay your ultimate goal of watching your credit score climb.

When the dust settles, consider a unique way to build your credit like Self Lender.  Self Lender offers four different types of loans, each which you pay down monthly.  At the end of the term, Self Lender sends you back the initial term of the loan, minus interest and a small application fee.  Each month you make a payment, they’ll report to good behavior to the credit bureaus and you’re credit score and profile will likely improve.  The initial application may drop your credit score, but if you make all payments (to yourself) on-time, it should increase.

Experian Boost is another way for people with a poor or limited credit history to get ahead. Many times, these people will have a positive, consistent record of paying utilities on time, but those payments aren’t being included in their credit profile. Experian Boost allows people to include this payment history to their credit score. Best of all – it’s completely free.

Summary

Start by looking at your credit reports to get a sense of where you stand.

If you see any errors, dispute them with the credit bureaus. Then, focus on paying down any credit card debt while making every bill payment on time. In the meantime, do not apply for new credit. Basically, in order to repair your credit, you will need to limit your use of credit.

It may take months or even a couple of years for your credit score to improve, but if you plan on buying a new home, or taking on any other big debt, it’s well worth it.

5 ONLINE BUSINESSES YOU COULD START WITH NO MONEY IN YOUR POCKETS

5 Online Businesses You Can Start With No Money

 

1. Drop Shipping

 

The basic idea behind an online drop shipping business is that, as a small business owner, you don’t have to maintain a large inventory (or any inventory whatsoever) of products or handle any delivery to your customers. That eliminates the financial cost and risk of having a warehouse full of stuff you might not sell, and the hassle of arranging to send orders all over the country or the world. In fact, you don’t have to manufacture or store any products at all.

The only thing you have to focus on is marketing and advertising to find the customers and make the sales. Once the sale is made the rest is handled by others. Your only cost is the expense of marketing and advertising to acquire a new customer.

Once that is done, you’ll work with a company that specializes in drop shipping. Here’s how it works:

  1. You list products for sale on your website or a platform like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy.
  2. When one of your customers makes a purchase, you purchase the product from a third-party company (the drop shipper, usually a manufacturer or wholesaler) for a lower price. This process is as simple as forwarding the order from your customer, a process that can actually be completely automated. (Remember you don’t have any risk here of buying inventory because the sale has already been made).
  3. Your drop shipper then sends the product to the customer.

Easy enough, right? With drop shipping, you can offer a wide range of products, so the operating expenses for your business are super low.

As you can see there is no risk on your part because you don’t even purchase the product (at cost) until the actual sale is made!

What are the downsides to the drop shipping business model? You have to find a reputable drop shipper you can count on to deliver to your customers. If an order is late or doesn’t go out—or a product is of poor quality—you get blamed, as your company is the one representing the product and customer experience.

Also, because this market is so competitive, the margins—that is, the difference between the wholesale price and how much you can sell a product for—are lower, so this will be a high-volume type business to generate a serious income. But still, it is a worthwhile low or no-cost startup option.

One way to stand out from the competition with a drop shipping business is to private label your products. This simply means you put your own label/brand on the products that the manufacturer is creating. That way you’re not selling the same product brand and just competing on price; rather you can use your own brand and face less competition. Think about when you’re looking at medicine at the pharmacy; the brand names sell for higher prices and people think they are different from the generic brands even though the ingredients are exactly the same.

Anyone considering a drop shipping business should seriously consider leveraging Amazon.com to grow their business and learn more about becoming a profitable Amazon seller, because Amazon is an established marketplace that people already trust and has an existing customer base. Eventually, you should also consider having your own online store as well.

Pros

  • Requires very little startup capital
  • No need to maintain inventory
  • You can leverage established marketplaces with existing customer bases

Cons

  • You can be blamed for your drop shipper’s mistakes
  • The market is very competitive
  • You must sell a lot to generate a substantial income

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is somewhat similar to drop shipping but with some key differences. With this e-commerce model, you again don’t maintain an inventory of your own products, and you don’t have to worry about shipping products to customers.

Basically, you pick a profitable niche for your online business, and then you find an affiliate partner who has products available in that niche. Some of the most popular affiliate sites are Clickbank.com, Amazon.com, and CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction). Between them, they offer just about any digital information product (like ebooks, audio files, video files) or physical product you can think of. May big name companies and brands, like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. run their affiliate programs through these third-party affiliate sites.

With affiliate marketing, you offer the products for sale, for example, on your blog or e-commerce website. Each product has a unique link that tracks back to your account with your affiliate partner. A prospect who clicks on the link is taken to your partner’s shopping cart for checkout. Once they buy, that purchase is recorded and you receive a commission. Commission amounts vary depending on the affiliate partner, but is generally 5 percent to 25 percent, or 50 percent or more with digital information products.

 As you can see, there’s little risk on your part and virtually no investment needed either. Just like with drop shipping your only costs will be marketing and advertising to drive traffic and generate the sale.

The key difference between this and drop shipping is that the business model is even more hands off. All you have to do is provide a link for the customer to click on and the merchant handles everything; billing, order fulfillment, customer service, etc.

All you have to do is handle the marketing to get your prospects to buy (through social media, email marketing, blogging, or whatever method you choose). But after they click the affiliate link, it’s out of your hands. You don’t have to ship products or handle any customer service questions. And you certainly don’t have to maintain an inventory.

All you have to do is focus on paid and free ways to market your online business.

Affiliate marketing really is one of the most “hand-off” types of online businesses you can start.

Pros

  • Low risk: No initial investment required
  • Hands-off business model

Cons

  • You’re responsible for driving web traffic to the affiliate link (no traffic means no money)
  • May need to spend money on advertising and marketing

3. Blogging

If you have the expertise or a passion or interest for a subject, you’re ready to start making money with a blog. With a service like Blogger (www.blogger.com), you can start up your blog totally free. You can also create your own site and secure your own hosting for a low price, which is generally the route I recommend, as many free blogging sites have restrictions on what you can say or do, including making money or advertising.

You may think blogging is all about writing. And it can be if that’s what you want to do. But written blog posts are just the start. You can post photos, videos, and links to other sites, you can even repost news and other articles… anything is game, really, as long as it relates to your niche.

They key is that you want to post original content that is useful to your target audience and to post on a regular basis. That is the best way to get ranked in the search engines and to also get your audience to take action.

What sort of content should you provide? Anything that is engaging to your prospect. How-to topics, top-10 lists, commentary on trends in your niche, tips and tricks articles—basically, you need to provide useful content. There’s no shortage of ideas for your blog.

You make money in a variety of ways with an online business blog.

Google AdSense.

Have you ever been to a website and seen an ad on it? Chances are it was an ad being run through the Google advertising network.

These pay-per-click ads appear on your blog. Every time somebody clicks on an ad (which is supposed to be about a subject related to your niche), you make a few cents or more. Small amounts each time, but it adds up. This is extremely hands-off. You just need to get a code from Google, place it on your website – and the ads will automatically appear on your blog. Google will only show ads that are relevant to your blog so it’s a good experience for your visitors and maximizes the number of clicks you get, meaning more income.

Blog ad networks.

You can also work with ad networks other than Google, like Blogads, and run banner ads on your blog. Same as Google Adsense ads, you place the code once on your website and when your visitors click on the ads then you get paid. In addition to banner ads, you can also run video ads on your site.

In many cases you can make more money with blog ad networks, but they tend to only work with blogs that are getting tens of thousands of visitors a month or more; as opposed to Google Ads where you can start right away regardless of the amount of traffic you get.

Affiliate marketing.

You know this one already. You include links to products you are promoting as an affiliate and every time somebody buys the product, you get a commission. With a blog, you can integrate advertising with content to make it even more likely you’ll get the sale. For example, you could do a product review—which is useful content—and then include a link to buy the product under an affiliate link.

Here are a few successful blogging tips to make sure people can find your blog—and will keep coming back. This is key to building a following and making your blog a profitable venture.

You need to provide useful content in an engaging way.
If your blog is boring or the information can be found everywhere else, nobody will read it. Don’t hesitate to put your own personality into the blog.

You have to post content on a regular basis. 
People thirst for the new, so make sure you put up articles, videos, or whatever consistently. It could one post per day or three times per week. Whatever it is, maintain the same schedule. A scattershot posting history means losing readers.

At a minimum try to aim for one new post, video, or other forms of content a week.

Be genuine. 
Yes, your blog is supposed to make money. But you can’t make marketing pitches all the time. Focus on useful content so that your readers come to know, like, and trust you. Then they will naturally click on your advertising or buy the products you recommend. In this era of the internet and social media, people are looking for authenticity.

Do all of this, and you’ll attract the notice of search engines like Google, which are always looking to put sites with useful, relevant content on top of the search results. This is what content marketing is all about.

You could start a blog in less than an hour. But it takes time to make money as you build readership, and only a small percentage of those folks end up buying your products.

Pros

  • Very low start-up costs
  • You may work on your own schedule

Cons

  • May take a long time to begin making money
  • Creating and posting content can be time-consuming

4. Online Video

Have you watched a YouTube video lately? Of course you have! This is one of the world’s most popular websites, with more than 1 billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours of video each day. And it’s not all cats doing funny things, by any means.

You can leverage YouTube’s reach to make money online. No, you’re not trying to create a viral video, so to speak, although if it does go worldwide and is seen by millions, that’s a good thing.

Instead, you’ll be following a proven strategy for maximizing views of multiple videos on a regular basis. You’ll be creating useful content—something engaging that people want to watch. And it works in many, many different niches. It could be a how-to video or a talking-head video on a topic of interest for people in your niche—the sky is the limit.

You make money with ad revenue. Your first step is to create a YouTube account and start uploading videos. Then you enable monetization on your YouTube settings. Basically, this gives Google the go-ahead to include short AdSense ads with your videos, which you’ve seen if you’ve watched a YouTube video. When viewers click on those ads, you get paid.

Another opportunity to make money with a YouTube channel is through paid sponsorships. Build a large enough following and companies will be more than happy to pay you to promote or mention their products and services in your videos.

Some tips to create professional-looking videos (no expensive pro equipment needed):

  1. You can use your smartphone or a simple video camera. But make sure the lighting is good so that everything in your video is clear and easy to see.
  2. Make sure the audio is clear. You don’t want an air conditioning hum, construction noise, or other distractions.
  3. Use simple editing software like iMovie to put titles at the beginning of the video and to edit out any flubs.

Above all, remember that your videos can be simple and don’t have to be slick. Just provide useful content and be engaging and interesting. Funny helps, too.

And to extend the reach of your videos, be sure to post them on your Facebook business page, Twitter, your blog, and other channels. Let people know you’re in the video business now.

In addition to ad revenue from YouTube videos, you can also use your YouTube channel to drive traffic back to your website, where visitors can read your product reviews, click on the ads on your website, or even get onto your email subscriber list—where you can make multiple sales with your email list.

Pros

  • You can use your existing smartphone or computer
  • It works across several different niches

Cons

  • Creating and posting videos can be time-consuming
  • It may take a while to begin making revenue

5. Information Products

When you have an internet business, it doesn’t have to be about selling physical products. In fact, digital information products are one of the easiest and quickest ways to make money.

There’s no shortage of ways to create information products, but the most popular formats include:

  • Audio: a recorded teleconference, interview, course, or some other spoken-word product
  • Video: a recorded webinar, a how-to, an interview
  • Text: an ebook, an instruction booklet of some sort, a travel guide

In each of these categories, you can really get creative and make any type and format of content, as long as it’s engaging and useful.

No matter which way you do it, it’s passive income—money you earn while you sleep because you put these products up for sale on your website and a customer can buy and download them any time of day or night, automatically. All you have to do is check the sales periodically to see what topics or types of products are selling best so you can make more of those.

Pros

  • Can bring in passive income once you put the product on the market
  • Can be a quick way to make money

Cons

  • Creating a product takes some upfront work and time
  • You may need to invest some money initially

Putting It All Together

The trick with any online business is to make sure you’re in a profitable niche market. So be sure to keep an eye on trends, check out bestseller lists on sites like Amazon, and consider what people are discussing on social media.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to just one of these e-commerce opportunities.

Start out with one and get it going. Then add new revenue streams as you’re able. That will grow your income and ensure that you have something to fall back on should one business start going south.

WHAT TO DO TO REALLY SAVE MONEY WHEN SHOPPING / FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

 

What can I do to save money when I shop?

A good way to save money is to compare prices. You compare prices by looking at the price of something at more than one store.  Something might be “on sale” at one store.  But another store might sell the same thing for less money.

When you are shopping, you can ask:

  • What is the best price you can give me? The store might give you a lower price.
  • Will this item go on sale soon? You might be able to wait for the sale and save money.

Sometimes, you might find a better price online. When you see a price online, find out if you will need to pay extra money to have it sent to you. This cost is called “shipping.” If you add the shipping cost to the price, is it still a good deal?

Do coupons really help me save money?

A coupon can help you save money on certain products or at certain stores.  But coupons can help you save only if you are buying something you need. Do not buy things just because you have a coupon for them.

For Example

Here is an example of how a coupon works:

  • The clothes you want cost $55 (plus tax)
  • Your coupon is for $10 off a $50 purchase
  • Your purchase is more than $50.

$55-$10=$45

You pay $45.
You saved $10.

Where do I find coupons?

You can cut coupons out of the newspaper or a magazine. You also can find coupons online at:

  • the website for the company that makes the product
  • websites for stores that sell the product
  • coupon websites that list coupons for lots of stores

To use a coupon online, you often need to type your “coupon code” or “promotional code” into a box. This happens while you are “checking out” and entering the information to pay for what you are buying.

What else should I know about coupons?

Some stores have “double coupon” days. On these days, you might get twice as much money off.

For example, if you have a coupon for 50 cents off of a certain brand of orange juice, you would get $1 off on double coupon days.

Look for double coupon days at grocery stores. Ask at the store whether they have double coupon days.

Many coupons have an “expiration date.” After that date, you cannot use the coupon.

Should I always wait for things to go on sale?

A “sale” is when a store sells something for a cheaper price. Sometimes you can wait for an item to go on sale. That way, you do not have to pay as much for it.

Before you buy an item that is “on sale,” ask yourself:

  • Would I want to buy this if it were not on sale?
  • Are there other products like this that I like better?
  • Have I checked the price at other stores? Is the “sale” price the best one?
  • Do I have the money to buy this, even at the lower sale price? Will buying this add to my debt?
  • If I don’t buy this, what could I use the money for instead?

A sale price is not a good price if you do not need the item. A sale price does not help you save money if you cannot afford to buy the item.

23 HIDDEN WAYS TO OUTSMART RETAILERS AND SAVE A LOT OF MONEY

23 Hidden Ways to Outsmart Retailers and Save Money Shopping Online

Sure, shopping online is convenient. But when you know the secret ways to save, it can also be cheaper than shopping in store — no question.

Here are the best ways to make sure you save every time you shop online.

1. Sign up for Paribus and get cash back when there’s a price drop.

 

Paribus monitors your online purchases and asks retailers for money back on your behalf when an item you’ve bought goes on sale.

Most retailers offer a 14-day (give or take) cushion where you can request a price adjustment.

You don’t have time to monitor price drops yourself, and that’s the genius of Paribus. It’s totally free and mindless — like online shopping passive income.

Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.

2. Stack coupon promo codes with a sale.

If you’ve shopped online with a promo code, you already know how good it feels to watch your shopping cart total decrease with every code you apply.

In fact, stacking a promo code (or four if you’re shopping Kohl’s!) with a sale is the surest way to save big money shopping online.

Best part? You don’t even have to find promo codes yourself because. . .

3. Download the KCL app and we will tell you about the best online coupons and sales.

When you download the KCL app, you aren’t just getting access to the best deals at your grocery store, you’ll also find out about winter clearance deals at Macy’s and Gap 50%-off sales too.

We post loads of deals from retailers like Kohl’s, Target, Gap, Old Navy, Macy’s, JCPenney and more.

You’ll easily save at least 50% by letting our team find the sales and online promo codes for you.

4. Name your own price for electronics and tech through Greentoe.

Did you know retailers aren’t allowed to advertise a sale on a product below a certain price point? But they might be willing to sell a product for lower than the advertised price.

Here’s how Greentoe works: You find a product on their website. For example, I found a stainless steel Bosch dishwasher, selling for $624.10 online.

Make an offer lower than that and Greentoe sends your offer to approved retailers for that item, and the first one to accept your offer makes the sale. The item ships directly to your door.

5. Check out online through Ebates to save at least 2%.

It’s definitely a rookie move to shop online without initiating your purchase through a cash-back shopping portal.

Ebates is a good option if you shop a lot of different retailers. They have the most stores available, and even though your percentage of savings only averages about 2%, it’s better than no savings!

6. Clear your cookies and go incognito to avoid markups on sites you shop.

Have you ever heard the term “dynamic pricing?” In theory it’s the idea that pricing is based on market ebbs and flows. For example, airline prices are based on dynamic pricing and they change frequently.

The sad secret is that retailers also use it on consumers who frequent their websites, assuming someone who buys a lot from them will buy no matter the price. Which means you could be getting punished for being a loyal customer.

But put your pitchforks down because the way to outsmart retailers at this game is to first clear your cookies and next, open an incognito window to do you your shopping.

This should make it so the retailer thinks you’re a first-time buyer and will offer you tantalizing prices.

7. Join Amazon Family to save 20% on diapers and wipes.

If you have a baby and you’re a Prime member, Amazon Family is a no-brainer for saving money shopping online.

Of course, stacking diaper coupons with a sale at a drugstore or at Target is still the way to get the best deal on diapers and wipes, but when there’s not a deal or you just want the convenience of Amazon, this is the way to go.

8. Get up to 10% cash back when you shop through Ibotta.

Ibotta isn’t just for getting $0.25 back on mustard! You can use it like a mobile shopping portal (sorta like Ebates) and get up to 10% cash back on your online purchases.

The money will arrive via PayPal, just like it does when you scan your grocery receipt with Ibotta to redeem individual offers.

9. Use Milled instead of signing up for a bazillion retailer emails.

If you hate a cluttered mailbox as much as I do, I recommend checking Milled instead of signing up for retailer-specific newsletters.

Visit Milled and choose at least 10 retailers to “follow.” Then you’ll get an email from Milled alerting you to sales and coupons for your chosen retailers.

Or if you’re in the act of shopping online, visit Milled first to see if a certain retailer offers a coupon or a deal — you can search by retailer!

10. Set up extra email addresses to collect extra coupons.

Or you can just be krazy and set up extra email addresses to sign up for certain retailers’ email newsletters in order to get extra codes to use.

For example, a couple times a year, Kohl’s sends a “mystery code” via email for 20-40% off your total purchase. If you have more than one email address, you’d get more than one code, resulting in multiple online shopping trips where you save big.

11. Abandon your online cart — sometimes you’ll get a discount!

Your mileage may vary with this one, but it never hurts to try.

Shop up to a week before you need to buy an item. Add the item to your online shopping cart and then let it sit there.

Make sure you’re signed in to the website, so they can find you via email to let you know they’re offering a discount.

Retailers like DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bass Pro Shops, Office Max and Williams Sonoma are rumored to offer a percentage-off discount the day after you abandon your cart.

12. Use Trim to find and cancel subscriptions you don’t want anymore.

With online shopping comes the inevitable signing up for free 7-Day trials in order to get a freebie or a discount on something.

Problem is most of us forget what we’ve signed up for and that’s where Trim comes in.

Sign up for Trim (it’s free) and they’ll locate all your subscriptions and ask you what you’d like to keep and what you’d like to cancel.

Trim can also negotiate some of your bills if you’d like them to!

13. Pay with discounted gift cards and save up to 20% on top of coupons.

Always check a site like Gift Card Granny or Raise before you check out online to make sure there’s not low-hanging fruit in the form of a discounted gift card.

Gift Card Granny and Raise buy unwanted gift cards from people and sell them at a discount to you.

So you might pay $22.00 for a $25.00 Gap gift card. As far as Gap is concerned, it’s $25.00.

Savings range from 2-20%.

14. Set a Google Alert to get notified when your item goes on sale.

Google Shopping is an easy way to compare online prices, and you can set a Google Alert for a price you’d be willing to pay on an item.

Enter your item’s exact name, like “iPhone X” followed by a realistic price range so it looks like this — be sure to include quotation marks:

“iPhone X $1…$850”

Make sure to select “As-it-Happens” if you want to score a deal that might go quickly. Once you’ve got it set up, channel all the patience and wait for Google to email you about your deal.

15. Use Pricegrabber to compare prices across different websites.

Enter your item on Pricegrabber and you’ll see a list of retailers selling it, along with price points for each.

Choose the retailer and price you want and buy.

16. Check CamelCamelCamel to be sure you’re shopping Amazon at the right time.

Remember dynamic pricing? Unfortunately Amazon uses it in the same way airlines use it, resulting in prices that are constantly tweaked.

Lucky for you, CamelCamelCamel monitors Amazon pricing changes, exposing dips and spikes so you can figure out roughly what time of year is best to buy your item and what price point to aim for.

This will help you not to overspend when shopping on Amazon, and Lord knows we need all the help we can get.

17. Join store loyalty programs before you make an online purchase.

This is more of a defensive move because accumulation of store loyalty points can be very slow, but when it’s time to cash in that $9.00 at Ulta because you’ve spent enough money there, it’s worth it.

Look for loyalty programs that are free (don’t require you to sign up for a credit card) and earn at least 5% cash back.

Here’s a list to get you started on the best store loyalty programs out there.

18. Check RetailMeNot for cash-back offers with savings up to 25%.

Yes, RetailMeNot has tons of coupon promo codes you can fish for and use online. But also, looking for RetailMeNot promo codes that work can feel like trying to find a minnow in a huge murky pond.

Which is why I use the KCL app to help me find active coupon codes, and I use RetailMeNot for cash-back offers (similar to Ebates and Ibotta).

In fact, you can score the deepest cash-back savings through RetailMeNot — I’m talking up to 25% savings! Bad news is offers aren’t as frequent or plentiful as other shopping portals like Ebates.

Go with whatever cash-back shopping portal offers the best discount!

19. Sign up for store credit cards — only if you’ll save at least 5%.

Credit cards can be a very lucrative way to save if you’re trying to save money in the long run.

And if you treat your credit card like it’s cash and pay off your balance every month, you can score deep savings.

That said, only sign up for store credit cards if they’ll save you at least 5% on every purchase and if it’s a store you frequent.

For example, Amazon offers a 5% cash back credit card that might be worth looking at. Compare that to a 1% cash back credit card at a place like Nordstrom.

20. Never pay for shipping — use free in-store pickup in a pinch.

Another online shopping rookie move is paying for shipping.

Most stores offer a free shipping promo code, or a minimum purchase amount you should try to meet in order to get free shipping. (Hear me out — I’m not telling you to overspend to get free shipping. I’m saying you should plan your purchases so you make one big purchase in order to meet the minimum spend for free shipping.)

If you simply cannot get free shipping, opt for free in-store pickup since most large retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s and Target offer this perk.

21. Find out the best time of year to buy everything and stick to it!

If you want pure online shopping power, you have to know what time of year is best to buy your items.

Merchandise sales are usually based on time of year and are fairly predictable and cyclical. For example, you don’t want to wait in line at 1 a.m. on Black Friday for a killer deal on a TV if you can get the same price shopping online in February, thanks to the Super Bowl and March Madness.

And why bother buying a North Face coat in October when you can get the same one for half price in March? No need to overpay!

22. Opt for your Prime packages to be delivered late and earn a $1.00 digital reward.

It used to be a Prime Pantry credit, but it’s even better now.

Choose to forego 2-Day shipping and you can get a $1.00 Amazon digital reward to use on an Amazon Video rental or a Kindle book or more.

Your package will probably arrive within five days anyway. I always do this when I don’t need something immediately.

23. Always check Groupon before you make a purchase.

Groupon is like the Gen-Xer who swears they were cool before Millennials showed up.

And Groupon might be right because every now and then you can catch a deal that’s worth your time.

It’s certainly worth visiting the site to see if you can find that cat bed for less than Petco wants for it.

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