Savvy shoppers know that if you want the absolute best deal on just about anything, you need to shop online.
Extra-savvy shoppers know that if you want to make those online deals even better, you need to trick out your Web browser with money-saving tools.
Hey: Have a question about tech? You can talk directly to one of our nerds and get an answer right away.
Get ready to become an extra-savvy shopper. Below I’ve rounded up some of my favorite tools for finding coupons and getting cash back on nearly everything you buy. They’re free to install, easy to use, and incredibly adept at saving you money.
True to its name, BeFrugal aims to help you live frugally. The company’s aptly named BeFrugal Add-On plugs into your browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer) and helps you save money at every turn.
For starters, it offers pull-down menus with coupons for online stores, grocery stores, and restaurants, and even connects you to weekly ads for tons of retail outlets. Plus, if you’re at a Web store’s checkout page hoping for extra savings from a coupon code, BeFrugal’s Couponomatic will automatically find and apply one for you (wherever possible).
BeFrugal is also a cashback service. If you surf to a supported online store, the toolbar displays your refund percentage and automatically “activates” the savings. In short, this is a one-stop add-on for all your shopping and cashback needs, and arguably the best tool of its kind.
I shop online. A lot. Nothing against retail stores, but I just love the convenience and selection of online emporiums. (Plus, my Web browser doesn’t have those pesky no-shirt-no-shoes-no-bathrobe rules.) What’s more, thanks to a service called Ebates, I can earn cash back on nearly everything I buy with my browser.
Specifically, Ebates pays me back a percentage of my purchase from over 1,500 online stores, everything from Aeropostale to Zales. The rates vary from one store to another and usually range anywhere from 2-10 percent. That may not sound like much, but it adds up. (And I’ve found that Ebates tends to offer the best rates of all the cashback services.) At the end of every three months, the company cuts you a check (or PayPal payment) for all the rebates you’ve accrued.
The Ebates Toolbar (available for all of the major browsers) saves you the hassle of starting your shopping at the Ebates site, instead notifying you when there’s cash-back available for the store you’re viewing. I used it just the other day when ordering some flooring from Home Depot, and saved myself a solid five percent (around $60). Just by installing a toolbar.
Ever get to a store’s checkout page and wish you had a coupon code to plug in? You could do a manual Web search to find one, or you could just click the inviting orange “Find savings” button added by Honey, a plug-in for Chrome and Firefox.
Unlike most other coupon-finders, Honey actually tries all the codes it can locate, thus saving you the hassle of manually entering and testing each one. It works with hundreds of stores, including Amazon, Old Navy, and Walgreen’s.
Swagbucks isn’t so much about saving money as it is earning rewards. When you use the Swagbucks toolbar (currently for Chrome only) for things like searching the Web, watching videos, and redeeming various offers, you get points you can redeem for gift cards and gear.
If you’d rather not install the toolbar, Swagbucks offers simple plug-ins for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer that let you take advantage of the Bucks-for-search option. Though it could take months for you to earn enough points for a decent prize, you might as well get something for the Web activities you’re already doing anyway.
Have you found any other good browser-based tools for saving money or winning money? Share your favorites in the comments.
Don’t forget that you can catch Rick and Dave in the monthly good-natured tech debate that we call Geek Vs Geek.