This post was sponsored by Ebates as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

I've been a coupon clipper since I was a preteen. Yes, really! My mom was an office manager at a local grocery store, so she usually did our grocery shopping before or after work -- which meant that I didn't get to tag along often. But I knew I could more easily persuade her to pick up my favorite snacks if I could show her that she could save some money on them, so I started clipping insert coupons at a very young age.

To this day, I still love a good bargain. While I don't actually clip insert coupons that often anymore, I'm always looking for ways to save in stores and online. Especially online... because I know that I usually have the option to buy a product from any number of online stores, so I'm going to spend my hard-earned dollars at the website that's willing to offer me the most for my money.

As you can imagine, back to school shopping for five kids adds up quickly, so I've honed a 3-step strategy that I always follow before clicking submit on any online purchase to ensure that I get the best value for my money. And because I love to help others save BIG also, I'm going to share my tips with you today!

Save at GAP with Ebates

3 Steps to Save Money When Shopping Online

1 Purchase a discounted gift card. Oh, you didn't know this was a thing? Yes, it is! There are many sites online where consumers can sell their unwanted gift cards at a discounted rate, which exponentially increases your purchasing power from the get go. I've purchased Walmart gift cards at 2%, Nike gift cards for 5% off, Justice gift cards at 10% off and more. Every little bit helps! Especially when you're buying for 5 kids... Incidentally, this can also be a fantastic way to save on dining out.

2 Shop through a cash back site, like Ebates. I've been an avid Ebates user since 2001 -- that's like eons when it comes to the World Wide Web! I've saved thousands in that time, and even managed to earn some referral bonuses along the way by recommending it to friends and family. (You can, too, once you're a member!)

If you've never used Ebates, here's how to get started:

  • Join Ebates for FREE and start earning cash back immediately. As an added incentive, your first qualified purchase ($25 in purchases within 90 days) earns a $10 bonus -- sweet!
  • Visit Ebates before you shop online, search for the site you're planning to shop, and click through the red "Shop Now" button to earn cash back at stores you would have shopped at anyway.
  • If you're a little forgetful, you can also install the Ebates Cash Back Button to remind you if they offer cash back on a site you're browsing. And you can also download the Ebates App to earn cash back on mobile purchases.
  • And what do you know? I just learned something new! You can also link your credit or debit card to your Ebates account to earn in store cash back. This is SO awesome -- I can't wait to use this feature next time we shop at Dick's Sporting Goods! We spend an obscene amount on soccer gear there each season.

By the way, Ebates currently has a Triple Cash Back event going on right now, with around 50 stores offering major savings! You can't beat discounts like 12% on Nike.com, 9% on Macys.com and 7.5% on Philosophy.com, along with many more.

3 Check for coupons or promo codes before checking out. Ebates compiles many of the available coupons on their site for you, but occasionally you can turn up some others by doing a quick Google search. I just type in the name of the site I'm shopping plus "promo code" (ex. Nike promo code) and see what pops up. Often I'm pleasantly surprised with an extra discount, free shipping, or sometimes even a free item with purchase.

How I Saved Over $50 on New Nike Shoes

An Example of How I Saved Over $50 on New Nike Shoes

Just to show you how this all works in action: My son had his heart set on a $130 pair of Nike Free Run shoes. Yeah, yikes! I purchased a $95 Nike gift card at 5% off, so I saved $4.75 before we even started looking. We then headed to Ebates to click through and save 12% in cash back.

On the Nike website, he found the orange pair of Free Runs pictured above on clearance for $109.97. This was still a little more than I wanted to spend, but when we did a quick search for a Nike promo code, we turned up BTS20 which saved us an additional 20% on clearance items! And I discovered at checkout that Nike+ members automatically get free shipping.

So after all of the discounts and cash back, I paid $79.05 with tax for a $130 pair of Nike shoes, a savings of $51.95! Needless to say, I was much happier with that price. From there it was rinse and repeat to snag the cat ears headband on GAP.com for my younger daughter and the Pink sweatshirt on VictoriasSecret.com for my older daughter. Shopping through Ebates really pays!

Enter to win the Ebates Back to School Giveaway

Ebates has an awesome Back to School giveaway happening right now. You could win a $500 Amex gift card, an iPad valued at $399, or a $100 Starbucks gift card! All you need to enter is a valid Ebates account, no purchase necessary. Enter through August 31, 2016 at 11:59pm PDT, and the winners will be chosen at random.

by Tara | 0 comments

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