Yeah, that title sounds like one of those corny Shamwow infomercials with only “90 low payments of $49.95!” Ick. Sorry. Next channel, please.
I love sharing my latest DIY projects and thrift store makeovers and all that, but every now and then I discover a budget shopping tip that I feel like I need to pass along to my closest girlfriends and/or shout from the rooftops. I part of me really doesn’t like talking about money; it makes me squeamish. But if I can share my personal experiences to help others, I’m all for it.
This one I just tested out last week might be the best one I’ve ever found. And that’s sayin’ something.
(Referral links are provided in this post for convenience. For more information, see my full disclosure here.)
A while back I told y’all about my favorite sources for buying affordable home decor and how to stack coupons on top of sales. It works really really well. So much that I never pay full retail for anything. Ever. It can be a little time consuming searching around trying to find the best coupon codes to use though. And it’s easy to forget.
But the other day, I stumbled upon a much faster way to find the best online shopping discounts and get cash back on top of any purchases by using two apps- Honey and Ebates. (This isn’t a sponsored post or anything like that. I just really like these apps.)
In one week of online purchases (which was only three really), I ended up saving $151.26. Dude! And I’m not really a shopaholic by any means.
If you’ve never heard of them, here’s how they work.
Those two little buttons in the corner of my Chrome browser are the apps. That look like this:
I can go shopping online like normal (or you know… in my case, usually add items to my cart as a wish list thinking the shopping fairy will magically drop it all off at my doorstep).
Then, at checkout, click the Ebates browser button and “Activate Cash Back” button.
Depending on which site you’re shopping from, you’ll earn a percentage back from your online purchase. I like Ebates the best because it’s actual cash you get back rather than a gift card. And it appears in your account within 48 hours, so you really don’t have to wait around for it like I’ve seen on other rebate sites.
Some stores will earn you 10% back, some will earn a measly 1% back, but every little bit counts in my book. And those percentages can really add up, especially since they’re purchases you’re already making anyway.
Clicking the Ebates button will show current sales on the site too and sometimes a few coupons, but I haven’t found as many discounts on Ebates as I have on Honey. It’s still a great snapshot tool to see what items are currently on sale though.
Once you activate the Ebates cash back button, fill in your checkout information like you normally would. Usually a Honey popup will slide across the screen to ask if you would like for it to search for coupon codes. (Uh… duh! Gimme all the coupons.)
Click the “Try Codes” button, and Honey will automatically try out all of the coupon codes it can find until it can get you the lowest price in your shopping cart.
Sometimes Honey won’t have any luck since the available coupon codes depend on that particular store where you’re shopping. So far, it’s been a dud on Amazon for me.
But I’ve had great success with it on every day purchases like Old Navy when it gave me a 40% off coupon when I desperately needed some summer clothes last week. And it found a 20% off code through 1800Flowers when I needed to send an arrangement to a loved one.
I like to follow up with it by checking RetailMeNot and Groupon to be sure I’m getting the best codes, but having the Honey app popup at check out is still a great reminder to me to apply those coupon codes before clicking “Place Order” in case I forget. Most of the time, Honey has still found the best codes.
After I place the order, I can see my cash back balance on Ebates within 48 hours and have the money deposited into my Paypal account without having to worry about any fees.
The cash back percentage from Old Navy and Toys R Us were pretty skimpy, but many other stores offer more than they do. Combined with the coupon codes Honey dug up for me, I saved $151.26 in three purchases.
The one little downside about the Ebates / Honey combo is it doesn’t work on groceries, but I’ve used Coupons.com and the app Ibotta for food purchases, which works similarly using rebates scanned from your phone at the grocery store register.
Whew! Was that the most long winded budget shopping lesson or what? They’re two habits I’ll absolutely be using from now on though.
Do you have any favorite money-saving apps? Or know of any other cash back programs? I’m still fairly new to it, but I’m wishing I’d known about it sooner.
If you’re wanting any other budget shopping tips, I shared more of my favorites in these posts: