CLEVELAND — Fears of COVID have driven a record number of shoppers online, with many learning how to do it for the first time. But, even serious shoppers don’t take advantage of some of the saving strategies available. In fact, shopping online is a game of skill.

Trae Bodge, one of our go-to smart shopping experts, warns “If you don’t plan, if you don’t take a moment to look for a price elsewhere or find a way to save, you’re either leaving money on the table or losing money.”

Some of the biggest mistakes we make:

Ignoring Pay To Shop apps and Browser Extensions.

You can earn cash rebates just by shopping through an app like Ibotta or websites such as Rakuten , and swagbucks.

Cliff Luhrs made $5,000 with swagbucks. He explained that “If you go through the swagbucks website and click on the link to go to the shopping website, you then get 8% back or 4% back and that’s just about every retailer that’s out there.”

Not signing up for for loyalty programs with stores where you regularly shop.

Trae says, “you can earn points, you will have advanced notice of certain sales, maybe exclusive sales. and so, they’re absolutely worth signing up for, and it just takes a couple seconds to do.”

Believing that every so-called sale, really offers savings.

Some sellers claim you’re getting a deal but could have made it up, or inflated the price to make the discount seem bigger. Search for an item on other sites and see how the prices compare.

Jenny McClear, an extreme couponer who is always looking for ways to save, says “I hate to sound like a cynic, but a lot of times you’ll see a slash line and it’s like, ‘oh, it “was” this price, and it “is” this price now’, when you could have gotten it cheaper a month ago. Or if you wait a couple of weeks, it will be cheaper. So, a lot of it is just doing your research.”

Accepting every review at face value.

Manufacturers often post their own reviews. So, compare reviews on other shopping sites, or verify them at places like which vets fake Amazon reviews.

Tommy Noonan, founder of Reviewmeta, advises consumers to “Sort all the one-star reviews and see what they say. Look at the time frame at which the reviews are left. Make sure they are not all left in one chunk of time.”

Not reading the return policy carefully.

Do you have to meet certain conditions?

Is there a time frame for returns?
And what about costs?

As much as she shops, Trae got a surprise with that.

“I read the return policy and it looked fine. But, what they didn’t say is that I had to ship the merchandise back to China. So, now i have $54 worth of merchandise, and it’s going to cost me almost that much to ship the merchandise back.”

Not taking advantage of free shipping.

In fact, next Monday is the annual free shipping day where thousands of retailers ship at no cost with “promises” that items will arrive by Christmas eve.

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