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LAist 'Secrets' for Online Shopping

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You haven't done your Christmas shopping yet. You just had finals, you were trying to finish a project before Christmas, or you found out one of your friends got you a gift that you totally forgot to get a gift for! Oh no! If you take a look at our many gift guides and can't find them at a store near you, hopefully you can find them online without spending a fortune on it as well. Here is a list of the gift guides for your viewing pleasure: PhiLAnthropist Part 1 and Part 2, Rock books, Toys in LA, the Drinkers' Guide, Video Games, Health and Fitness, Classical Music, and Comedy. If you're buying some sort of fancy gizmo or gadget (TVs, computers, laptops), it is often advisable to buy it on a Monday rather than a Sunday or at the beginning of the month rather than the end of the month. Price changes often go into effect online at the beginning of those cycles (correct us if we're wrong, but it has happened to one LAist-er frequently enough where they have to mention it in a post), and if you're already late it shouldn't hurt too much to buy it a few days later. Rather than using just one of these tips while shopping online, use a combination of the tips to make sure that you get the biggest deal.

1) Beat my price

If you only have one source of online shopping (Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc.), it's probably good to branch out. Most of those big retailers actually buy and ship from other retailers anyways, especially the more obscure items. Beat my price is a useful website in determining where you can get the product you are looking for at the cheapest price, while avoiding most if not all unreliable sellers. You just type in the item, price and website you found it, and it will search online for other retailers and compare prices with the one you found.

2) Not everything on eBay is USED
Sometimes sellers snag items on Black Friday or other major sales and sell them online for a little more than they bought it for. You will still be able to buy the item brand new (it will often mention if it is still in its package or wrapped); just buy it from a reputable seller and you'll be good to go! Just make sure the shipping costs don't add up to make it more expensive than if you buy it from another source.

3) Coup with Coupons
Sometimes people get embarrassed from using coupons in person, or at restaurants, or anywhere else. But online, no one else has to know but you! Many people are surprised to find that even if they don't get an e-mail from an online retail store, you can find coupons, by just googling. Several examples include typing in "Barnes and Noble coupon" or "Discovery coupon" and finding multiple websites with coupons for you to enter when you check out the item. There are no drawbacks for this; if it doesn't work, just try another one! Some consistent ones include retailmenot and dealigg, and if those don't work something on google might.

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4) Online Boutiques
If you want designers clothes at steeply discounted prices, you don't have to go to the Nordstrom Rack or Marshall's to find it. Online boutiques like RueLaLa and ideeli give you access to the LATEST (not the LAST) fashions at heavily discounted prices (40-70 percent off) on your favorite designers. Recent sales include Marc Jacobs, BCBG Max Azria, Juicy, Sevens for all Mankind, Gucci, and Prada. If you don't feel comfortable buying clothes online, they also have handbags, sunglasses, jewelry, and other accessories occasionally. If there is a clothing brand that you are familiar with, memorize your size (or whomever you are shopping for) and shop online!

5) Find the BEST sales near your house by browsing on the web
Websites like Top Button and shopmycloset list all the best and biggest sample sales near your house. Remember to arrive early and scope out the area before. Have an idea of what you are getting and run straight for it! One caveat is if you want to bring your boyfriend, he might have to wait outside (if it is a girls only sale) since these sample sales take place in hotel conference rooms or warehouses and might not have a changing room.

6) Inspiration for a Gift by Checking out the Deals
Slickdeals is another one of those handy websites where users submit the best deals they find online on that day. They often include sales that expire on that day, so check it out rather than checking out each individual website for sales. You might end up buying something for yourself along the way (like the Band of Brothers on Blu-Ray that you totally needed for 37 dollars!) but if you shop carefully you should save enough money where you can splurge a little on your own.

Please feel free to share your tips with LAist, so that everyone can save! It's the season for giving! It will feel good to give more for less, and hopefully this list will prove to be of some value for someone.

Photo by LA Michele via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr