I love to shop. (Don't tell my guy friends; they already think I'm low on man-cred.) But you won't find me in a mall; most of my shopping takes place in the virtual aisles of online stores.
That's because most of the best deals reside online. You probably knew that. But what you probably didn't know is that you can get a cash rebate on nearly everything you buy, making online shopping an even better deal.
The secret is using a cashback service, which works much like a Discover card: Buy a product, then get back a percentage of that purchase. (Double smart-shopper bonus if you actually use your Discover card to make that purchase, as you'll get even more money back.)
For example, not long ago I purchased a new laptop from HP. I'd already settled on the model and configuration I wanted; it was simply a matter of heading to HP's site and ordering it. Before doing so, however, I headed to Ebates, one of many cashback services. (It's my preferred choice, but there are others worth checking out, including FatWallet and TopCashBack.)
After a quick search for HP, I learned that Ebates was offering a 5% rebate. (Your mileage may vary; these rates frequently change, often from week to week.) One click and I was ushered through to HP's online store, where I could make my purchase just like I normally would. And I could still use the coupon code I'd received in a promotional e-mail.
Most cashback sites work the same way: Choose the store where you want to shop, click through to that store, then do your shopping. That's literally all there is to it. After a day or two you'll receive a confirmation e-mail from the cashback site noting that your rebate is in the works.
Editors' note: The above is an excerpt from Rick Broida's new book, "The Cheapskate Rules: 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets," available now in the Kindle Store.
A note on the book's pricing:
I've already anticipated a few of the initial responses to this. "I already knew about cashback sites, so why should I buy your book?" And: "You're The Cheapskate, so why isn't this book free?"
To the first question, I'd say that while regular readers may know some of the tips I've shared, I suspect you won't know them all. And, hey, maybe you have friends or family members who don't know any of this stuff. To which I say: "The Cheapskate Rules" makes a great gift!
As for the price, I make no apologies. I make my living as a writer, and there's a lot of hard work poured into this. More importantly, I think the book will pay for itself many times over. Heck, if you've never tried a cashback service, the excerpt I've shared here would probably cover the cost with just a couple online purchases.
That said, I couldn't in good conscience pimp my own book without offering a deal on it. So here it is: For a limited time, you can get "The Cheapskate Rules: 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets" for $4.99. Regular price: $8.99.
What's more, if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can borrow the book free of charge for a full month (though you must do so via your Kindle; don't click Buy via the Web page unless you want to buy it outright). Update: The book is no longer available for borrowing via Prime, but it is available in both print and Nook formats!
For now this is a Kindle-only affair. If there's enough interest (leave a comment!), I'll publish it for other platforms as well. I'm also investigating print options.
So that's it! I'm excited (and also slightly terrified) to hear your reaction, and thank you profusely should you decide to buy a copy for yourself, someone you know, or several thousand random strangers. It means a lot.
Bonus deal: Game time! For a limited time, Get Games Online has Batman: Arkham City (Win) for $4.59, by far the lowest price I've seen for the popular, top-rated action-adventure. And here's where it gets interesting: According to a post at GameTrailers, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a free Game of the Year upgrade after activating on Steam (which is required). Either way, great deal on a great game.
Bonus deal No. 2: I'm a big fan of Zvox's single-cabinet speakers, which can vastly (vastly) improve your TV audio, but they do tend to be on the pricey side. For a limited time, you can get the Zvox 430 HSD sound bar for $299.99 shipped, a savings of $150. This wall-mountable speaker delivers "big sound for movies," according to CNET's very positive review. And if you want one of the company's more "traditional" cabinet speakers, nearly all of Zvox's products are on sale this week.
Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.
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Update: Allow me to clarify. You can buy the book and read it on just about any device: PC, Mac, or any smartphone or tablet running a Kindle app. To borrow the book free for a month, you need a Kindle proper and an Amazon Prime subscription.