Thrifty Spending Issue 101: Feature Article

Best Ways to Find Holiday Deals Online.  These shopping strategies can help you save big.

Shop on the right days

You can save money by knowing the right days to shop online. Online shopping site analyzed price data on 100,000 products over a two-year period and found that prices on some items fluctuate throughout the week.

  • On Monday, you’ll find the cheapest prices on computers and electronics (on average, about $50 less than the rest of the week), says co-founder Jeff Nobbs. You’ll also    find the best prices on cameras (about $10 cheaper).
  • Monday through Wednesday, TV and video game prices are at their lowest ($20 and $3 cheaper, respectively). Prices are at their highest points on Friday. 
  • On Wednesday, jewelry prices hit a low (just $2 lower on average, though). 
  • On Saturday, book prices are about $2 less than other days.
  • On Sunday major appliances, such as washers, dryers and refrigerators, are about $12 cheaper, on average, than the rest of the week. 
  • Apparel prices don’t fluctuate much during the week.

Compare prices the easy way

If you’re trying to find the lowest price on a particular product, price-comparison sites make it easy. When you search for an item on these sites, they produce lists of the retailers offering the product, prices, shipping costs, and seller information and ratings. It’s tough to for price comparisons. For most of the items we recently searched for, Amazon turned up the longest lists of results and the lowest prices. However, other price-comparison sites worth visiting include and Google Product Search, which has a local shopping option to help you find products at stores near you.

You also can download the tool, which will notify you instantly if a product you’re viewing online is cheaper at another site. The tool works on more than 100 sites, such as Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon and more are being added every week, says founder Bob Wilkins. While you shop online as you normally would, the tool searches thousands of other retail sites and will display an alert in the top left-hand corner of the page you’re viewing that tells you whether you’ve found the lowest price or if another retailer is offering the same product for less (with a link to that retailer’s site). You don’t have to register at to download the tool, but if you do register, you can set target prices for items you want and receive e-mail alerts when prices fall to the levels you want.

Use deal sites

Deal sites do the bargain hunting for you by scouring the Web for discounted items — saving you both time and money. Our favorite is, which has a team of deal hunters who keep their eyes on a million products at more than 2,000 reputable online retailers and update the site with new deals at least 200 times a day. Plus, you can sign up for e-mail or RSS alerts for products or stores you’re interested in and get gift ideas from the site. is another great source for deals. You may find some here that you won’t find at dealnews., a user-driven deal-sharing site, features a few deals a day on its home page, but its forums are where you’ll hundreds of deals posted daily. And features deals from more than 5,000 companies and stores, updated daily and organized into categories. It also points you to local deals in more than 75 cities.

Track daily deals

You can find lots of bargains at deal-of-the-day sites, such as, that offer deep discounts on select items for just a 24-hour period. But it would take a lot of time to check each one of these sites, which list only one such deal a day. does the hard work for you. It lists hundreds of items from deal-a-day sites and daily deal offers from retailers, such as It shows how long the deal has been posted, the time the sale ends, the amount of discount (if available) and whether the item is still in stock. When you click on any of the tabs at the top of the home page (All, Computers & Electronics, etc.), you’ll get a page that lets you sort by retailer, product, price and more.

Find coupon codes

Before you make any purchase online, search for coupon codes that can help you score a discount at the checkout (basically a sequence of numbers and letters you enter during the payment process). Some retailers advertise coupon codes on their sites when they’re available. However, some coupon codes can be found only at coupon sites that work with retailers to create exclusive online coupons. has about 100,000 active coupons and deals. In addition to developing exclusive coupon codes with retailers, its staff searches merchant sites, forums, blogs, consumer e-mails and even the Sunday Paper for coupons, then updates the site’s listing three times a day. It shows when a coupon expires and when it was last tested so that you’ll know whether it still works. has thousands of coupon codes that you can search for by store or category. You can sign up to receive weekly e-mails featuring coupon codes and online discounts. has coupon codes for 130,000 stores and a weekly e-mail newsletter that features the coupon codes that the site’s users consider to be the best.

Take advantage of free shipping

If you’ve worked hard to find the best deal online, you don’t want to wipe out all your savings by paying a hefty shipping fee. offers free-shipping coupons for nearly 4,000 stores, including, Target and Best Buy.

Pay with cash to avoid credit-card debt

Any of the savings you score using the techniques or sites listed above will be wiped out if you carry a balance on your credit card and pay high monthly interest charges.

WU Pay (formerly eBillme) offers you a way to make secure cash payments when you shop online so that you won’t rack up credit-card debt. Both sites let you shop at hundreds of stores. At check-out, you select the WU Pay payment option.

The only personal information you have to provide to WU Pay is your e-mail address, where you’ll receive your bill. Then log on to your bank account and use the online bill-payment option as you would to pay your utility bill or any other bill. Or you can print out the bill and pay it at a Western Union location. WU Pay also has a cash-back program that allows you to earn points on orders at the WU Pay e-gift card mall and purchases at participating retailers and redeem them for coupons for future orders or for cash.

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Thrifty Spending Issue 101: Did you know…

…about the Hill-Burton Act?

The Act provides that hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities that received government money provide free or reduced-cost services to patients.

If you have pending medical debt and are not able to afford it, you can check on the Health Resources and Services Administration website at to see if the facility that provided you the medical services is listed. If they are listed as a Hill-Burton obligated facility, they received government money and must provide free or reduced-cost services to patients in return for the money received.

If you find the facility on their site, you must apply for the free or reduced-cost care. You may still apply after care has been provided and even after a bill has been turned over to a collection agency.

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