Whatever it is we’re looking to buy, knowing how to find the cheapest deal could us save a lot of cash
Price comparison sites
These sites sift through selected products from a range of retailers and find you the cheapest deal on offer.
A couple to try include:
They include all the major shops like Tesco, John Lewis, Amazon and eBay. Simply type in the search box what it is we want to buy, eg, lawn mower. Then we can sort the results using the filters on the left hand side of the page (price, power type, brand, etc). We can also select to view second hand, or ‘used’ items.
On branded products there is a link to ‘Compare prices from xx shops’. Clicking on this pulls up the full list of retailers and the price, including delivery costs. This helps us decide whether it would be cheaper to buy the item in store rather than online.
Different retailers have a different minimum spend in order to qualify for free delivery.
We should always check what this is before buying anything. If the item(s) is just below the minimum spend it could work out cheaper to add on another item than to pay the cost of delivery.
This can work when it comes to clothes shopping. Asos has a £30 minimum spend, and at John Lewis, Clarks and Matalan, it’s £50. Delivery costs are usually around £3.50 but again this depends on the retailer.
Another trick is to check out whether returns are free. If they are, we can cancel out delivery costs by buying multiple items to take us over the minimum spend threshold. Then return the unwanted items. Just make sure the returns go back within the timeframe so all the money comes back.
Some retailers offer trials which can include benefits including free delivery. Amazon Prime is one example of this, (and this gives us access to their film streaming service). It is free to sign up for the trial, but once it finishes we get charged, and it can be a lot of money.
It’s best to set a reminder on a phone or in a diary to cancel the trial before it ends. Or we can cancel it straight away and your free benefits will remain for the allotted time (usually a month).
Money off when you leave your basket
This may not work all the time, but it has in some cases so it is definitely worth a try. If we fail to complete our online order, (so items are saved in the basket but we haven’t clicked through to the payment page), some companies will send a discount code to tempt us back.
For this to work we need to have an account with the retailer so they have your email address. Once we have added an item(s) to your basket you need to close the site. Then it’s just a matter of time! It may be that you find an email in your inbox the following day – but it’s not guaranteed.
Discount voucher codes
There are plenty of websites out there offering discount codes for a variety of retailers. Money Saving Expert has a page listing the latest money-off vouchers here, but there are others including VoucherCodes and MyVoucherCodes.
We can also set up email alerts with these websites so we get the current deals sent to us direct each week.
Sign up to newsletters
Most retailers have an online newsletter or emails, which they encourage shoppers to sign up for. It usually appears on their home page or in a pop up – like the one on this site for Quids In Readers Club emails. Many offer discounts, especially on our first shop with them. It is worth signing up for this as the discounts can be 20% or even more. If we get fed up with the emails afterwards, we can always cancel.
Online discount outlets and clearance stores
Some of the large out-of-town discount stores now have an online shop, either via eBay or a separate section on their website. This can save us having to travel miles out of our way. They usually sell old-stock but at heavily discounted prices so we could pick up a bargain.
We’ve listed a couple below, including links so you can have a browse:
Word to the wise
One word of warning: Discounts and the idea of getting money off can tempt us into buying things we don’t really need. Online shopping is especially dangerous because we can do it from our own homes, simply by clicking a button. Before we pay it’s always worth asking: “Do I really need this?” and “Can I buy it cheaper somewhere else?”