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As you might have guessed, I spend a lot of time shopping.  Now in all fairness, that doesn’t mean that I buy a lot, but I’m out in the stores looking at items and getting ideas all the time!  And because I do a lot of decorating “research” {I like the way that sounds!}, I’m pretty good at knowing the value of an item and how much I should reasonably expect to pay for something.  As such, I never like to pay more than is necessary, so I use a few different strategies for ensuring I’m always getting the biggest bang for my buck!

TIDBITS&TWINE 4 Tips to Save Money When Shopping

1. Rakuten (formerly Ebates)

I use this ALL THE TIME!  It is literally free money so if you’re shopping online and not using Rakuten, you’re missing out.  I’m not kidding.

How It Works

To be clear, using Rakuten doesn’t mean that you buying anything from Rakuten, but rather, you’re using the site to access other online retailers, like Amazon, Macys, Best Buy, Home Depot, etc.  Rakuten works with over 1,800 retailers and those retailers pay Rakuten a percentage of any purchase you make as a “thank you” for driving business to them.  In turn, Rakuten passes a percentage of that money on to you.  Each retailer has a different percentage that you’ll get back and they’re always changing, so just log in and look anytime you want to make a purchase.

Get Started Making $

To get started, simply create a free account {HERE}.   The next time you buy something online, simply visit Rakuten first and login.  Then search for the online store you’re making a purchase from and click over to the store’s website and make your purchase as usual.  Once the transaction processes, you’ll see money added to your Rakuten account and you’ll be paid every 3 months via check or PayPal.  Hubby has had his account longer than I have and his electronics purchases have really added up over time!


At the time I’m writing this, Rakuten is offering 4% from Cost Plus World Market, 3.5% back on purchases from Home Decorations Collection, 3% back from Horchow, 6% at JcPenny and 50% at Angie’s List!  What does that mean to you?

Aven Chandelier from Home Decorators Collection

Well, for example, let’s say you’re planning to purchase the Aven Chandelier from Home Decorators Collection.  The listed price is $599.  If you go directly to Home Decorators Collection, you’ll pay $599 plus tax and shipping.  If you go to Rakuten first and then navigate to HDC to make your purchase, you’ll pay the same amount, but will receive almost $21 back via Rakuten.  Okay, so it’s not a fortune, but money is money and it takes and extra 10 seconds to log in to Rakuten so it’s worth it!

Whenever I’m planning to make an online purchase, I always first log into Rakuten and then check to see if the store I want has a cash back offer in place.

2. Price Match

Many stores will match the price of a competitor in order to maintain your business.  Not all stores advertise this policy, though, so it’s best to ask.  This is particularly useful if you want to buy something from a retailer you’re familiar with and trust, but might have found a cheaper price at another retailer you’re not as familiar with.  In that case, bring the other retailer’s listed price to store with you and ask the store you want to purchase from if they can do a price match.  That way, you’ll get the price you want from a retailer you trust!

It’s also important to note that the online and brick-and-mortar versions of large stores are actually run as different companies with different prices.  For example, if you’re at Target and plan to make a purchase, always check the price on Target.com as well, because the price might be cheaper!  The same is true for Walmart where in fact, the prices can vary greatly between the store and the online store.  In most cases, these stores will price match to their own website but only if you ask….they’ll never tell you in the store that you can buy it cheaper online!


3. Retailer Apps

Paper coupons are quickly becoming a thing of the past, although some stores still print them.  An easier way to keep track of coupons, though, is to use store’s smartphone apps!  I use the Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, & Hobby Lobby apps all the time because all of the coupons and weekly deals are stored in the app and so I ALWAYS have a coupon on me!  The same is true for Target {their app is called Cartwheel} and many other retailers.  Always be sure to check and see if your favorite retailers have an app and download it for extra savings.  {You can also get coupon codes from Rakuten.}


4. Discounted Gift Cards & Coupons

If you plan to make a large purchase, consider buying discounted gift cards online to help offset your cost.  This is a great time of year to buy gift cards off of eBay because many people are selling gift cards that they received for Christmas.  This is actually how I offset the cost of the Pottery Barn Maxfield Flatware that I purchased.  In addition to using a coupon, I purchased a few discounted gift cards and was able to save another 10% off the price.


People also sell their coupons on Ebay and if you’re making a large purchase, the cost of buying the coupon can easily be offset by the savings from the coupon!

As a reminder, when purchasing from eBay, check the Seller’s ratings and return policy to ensure you’re doing business with a trustworthy person.

BONUS #5: Freeshipping.com

Freeshipping.com works basically the same as Rakuten, except that it consistently offers 10% back plus you automatically qualify for free shipping.  There is a monthly fee of $12.79 to join; however, so long as you get more than that amount back from your purchases each month, you’ll come out ahead!  Once you sign up, you simply search for your retailer, click through to their site, and then shop as usual.  You’ll then get 10% of your purchases back as cash!

Which of these have you done?  And what are some of your favorite money saving tips?

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  1. Another good one is capitaloneshopping.com. You can load their extension and will automatically get coupon codes applied, and rebates credited to your Capitalone shopping account that you can redeem for gift cards to a number of retailers.

  2. Just a quick update – When I checked the Freeshipping.com site, it is $12.97 per month not annually. There is a seven day reduced price trial, but if you don’t cancel in that time frame then your credit card is charged $12.97 per month.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Joanne – You are absolutely right! It was my mistake when I wrote it so I’ve updated the post to reflect that it’s a monthly fee. Thank you! :) Kim

  3. Thanks for the helpful tips! Quick question, do you have to pay income tax on your eBates checks you receive each year? Thanks much! Love your blog! – Alaina

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      That’s a good question! Ebates does NOT send out 1099 forms because I believe that the money you receive is considered a rebate, as opposed to income, which the IRS distinguishes between. It’s always best to double-check for yourself, though, when it comes to tax time! :) Kim

  4. Kim,
    This is really helpful. I’m a registered member of eBates and have never used it. I think I wasn’t really sure how it worked and hadn’t had the time to check it out in depth. Thanks for that.

  5. Linda Schimizzi says:

    Great information! I knew 3 of your tips, but not the eBay purchasing gift cards tip! Also another good app for coupons is RetailMeNot. They usually have all the up to date store ones.

  6. Great tips!!!! All the above. I wish had had been as frugal when I was in my 20-30s as I am today. I can actually afford more, but spend WAY less just by taking time to use coupons, online rebates, store discounts and of course, shopping “used.”
    Another tip for online shopping…almost every site with have some kind of “discount code”….you see it at the “checkout.” Before you purchase just google xxx promo code…example….best buy promo code. There are several sites that keep track of this stuff and all you have to do is use the promotional code feature…often you will get % discounts and/or free shipping!
    Just this morning I am planning my Target coupon run. I use totallytarget.com and wildforwags.com to identify deals on products I use…shampoo, detergent, toothbrushes, cleaning supplies, makeup, toiletries, etc…they show you where to print or clip the coupons and how to structure the purchase! Some people think clipping coupons is time consuming…but a few hours a week saves me hundreds of dollars a year. I’m not an extreme couponer any more but I cringe if I have to pay full price for stuff we use all the time!

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