I shop online constantly.

For a few years, I even did it professionally for a company I own with my brother Joe. The profits for the business, and our rent, healthcare and groceries depended on me finding the best deal I could in a small amount of time. Extreme couponing does work, but it takes time and attention which I can’t spare. It’s too inconvenient.


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From a business perspective, speed and convenience are very important. So when buying products and supplies, I became very adept at saving money while spending very little time. If it takes three hours to save $20, my time would have been better spent elsewhere. But when spending $1000 (over months of time or all at once), it makes sense to spend five minutes checking to see if you can get a percentage back. Even saving 3% is $30.

Saving $30 in five minutes gives you an hourly rate of $360 per hour. And that’s way on the lower end of what you can save. 3% is basically the minimum of what you can save, in my experience. I’ve gotten between 2% and 15% cashback, not counting what I save with coupon codes and credit card cashback.

When shopping online (which I do more than I shop in brick and mortar stores), I used to just find the best price for the item I was looking for. For most of us, that’s as far as we are willing to go. Let’s say I’m buying a shelf from Lowe’s (which I did, frequently) for $50. I can check the competition’s price at Home Depot ($55), and Target ($52). If you’re shopping on Google, it will immediately tell you that Lowe’s has the best price. I add 4 shelves to my cart for $200 total. Very good. But I don’t need to stop there.

 

Finding the best price gets better

 

After finding the best price for the item I need, I search ‘Lowe’s coupon’ in Google. Usually RetailMeNot.com comes up and I use them. RetailMeNot will tell me the coupon codes active at the time. To use my own experience again, I have $200 worth of items which are already cheaper than the competition’s. But RetailMeNot gives me a coupon code for $10 off $50+ order! Easy enough, I just need check out four times. It only takes a few minutes extra, and I get to save $40.

Even easier than this, just download and Google for and add the Honey extension to your browser of choice. You just click on it during checkout, and it checks for active coupons that will help you. Super easy to download and use!

That was a big step for me, realizing that I don’t need to spend time collecting coupons to still save a bunch of money with coupons. I didn’t need to keep track of any sales or anything, and I still saved $40 right off the top. But another big step was when I found out about cashback websites. We are now entering the strange and wonderful world of cashback.

 

Cashback websites are the best

 

Cashback websites are weird and awesome. Most of us are used to getting cashback on our credit cards, but there are other ways to get it. There are actually cashback websites that give you money back when you spend money. No, I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating. I told you it was weird.

I found out about this sometime last year, and I questioned it. It made no sense to me that anyone could save money on most online purchases, and I’d never heard about it. But I had nothing to lose (it’s free to register) and a lot to gain. I was spending a lot of money online at the time for our business, and if this worked I stood to save hundreds of dollars over a few months. So I signed up.

I was still cautious because there’s almost always a catch to something that sounds that good, but I started spending money through TopCashBack’s links and saw my earnings pile up nicely. There’s multiple websites (BeFrugal, Ebates, TopCashBack), but I’ll just be talking about TopCashBack, the one I use, because I can actually testify to the fact that they gave me the money I earned. I prefer to recommend only the things I’ve actually proven to work.

Here’s how they work: You can find the item you want as you normally would. Follow your normal shopping habits. Let’s say you pick Walmart.com this time. But once you decide where you’re buying it, don’t just add it to your cart and check out. Go to TopCashBack, login, and search ‘Walmart.com’ in their search bar. Click through their link and now you can add it to your cart.

 

Save this list to your phone and use it next time you’re buying something online.

 

DayoftheHuman’s summary of how to save money while spending almost none of your valuable time:

  1. Find the item you want
  2. Use Google Shopping to quickly check what website has the lowest price
  3. Login to TopCashBack.com and check if they support cashback for the website
  4. Click through the TopCashBack.com link
  5. Add your item(s) to cart
  6. Google ‘[Website name] coupon code’ or click the Honey extension for coupons
  7. Apply any coupon codes
  8. Check out and save!

 

More info for top money savers

 

By the way, for TopCashBack, you’ll quickly discover different sellers have wildly different rates of return. For example, clothing websites almost always have high cashback rates. For example, clothing brands often have between 10% and 20% back (insane) and Walmart has 3% to 6% (not great, but I’m spending money there anyway so I might as well spend less). The site I just bought glasses from, gave me 15% back! That was a fun surprise. I didn’t expect it to be that high.

They also vary over time. I’ve seen Walmart as low as 2% and as high as 6%. It literally takes a minute, though, so I don’t mind even when it’s low. I also only use it when I’m already spending money, so anything is a bonus.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t affect the cashback you’d get on your credit cards. It’s completely separate. So if you get 5% back for buying something on a specific credit card, you can get that cashback and the online cashback through the website!

TopCashBack claims on their website that not all coupon codes are compatible with earning your payout, but I’ve never had a problem with that. I’ve used their website and coupon codes all the time with no problem.

And by the way, there’s one more thing you can do to get extra money. Once you’ve earned some cashback on the website, you can choose how you’d like to receive your payout. The options range from direct deposit or PayPal (most convenient for me) to any number of gift cards. Even though PayPal was the most convenient, I chose an American Express Rewards card, because TopCashBack added another 6% onto my payout for choosing that option.

I can tell you, I thought I might have made a bad choice! It took a long, long time to come. Like a full month. But it did come! And I spent it right away and it worked perfectly. It’s more risky though, for sure. It doesn’t need to be activated like a credit card, so if anyone had stolen it they could have used it with no repercussions, or any way for me to track it down and get my money back. So it worked, but it was a little nerve-wracking. The second time I wanted a payout I chose PayPal, which came almost instantly. No way that can get lost in the mail, which was completely worth not getting the extra 6% for me.

And keep in mind, it takes a while for your payout to become payable. Be patient. This was one of the aspects of this I was suspicious of at the beginning before l I actually got my money. TopCashBack doesn’t get the money from the seller until the return period is up. That can take awhile. But once you pass the initial period where you’re waiting for the first payout, the money should become available regularly. It’s just delayed. So the money you get might have been earned three months ago, but once you get it you could have a payout every month if you like.

I’ve saved many hundreds of dollars using coupons this way and hundreds more using TopCashBack. If you’re not spending for business like I was it’ll take you longer to save that much, but you’ll get there too!

 

 

Bonus for signup and disclaimer: If you use the links above to sign up for TopCashBack and earn $10 in cashback (which I hope you do, because that means I helped you and can feel good about saving you money), you get an extra $6 and we get $10. If you refer one of your friends afterwards, you can earn $10 and they can earn $6, and so on.

 

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