If you have a Google reader RSS feed or spend any time online, you’ve probably seen the ads for Groupon (the one with the photo of those gorgeous cookies!) I finally signed up for it a few months ago and took advantage of my first groupon about three weeks ago.

How Groupon Works
Groupon makes a deal with a local store (or sometimes a national store/service) to present a coupon that is good for a certain amount of dollars off a purchase or service. Restaurants, bakeries, spas, and local stores are common Groupon offers. For example, a restaurant might offer a $20 Groupon that is good for $40 off a restaurant tab.  In order for anyone to get the deal, a certain number of people have to buy the Groupon. If that threshhold is met, the Groupon is activated the next day and typically good for 12 months, but they will state it clearly if there is an earlier expiration date. Most Groupons meet the threshhold and your card isn’t charged unless it is.

There is only one offer per day per city, although you will see a “side deal” on the site. You’ll only get one email with the primary deal, though.

If you want to be sure a deal will go through before you buy it, look at the box below the offer price on the left. It will tell you how many have been bought. If the minimum has been exceeded, it will say “The Deal Is On” and tell you what time the minimum was exceeded (and what it was.) If it hasn’t been exceeded, it will tell you how many more need to be bought to activate the deal. You can buy Groupons as gifts if it’s just a few away and you really want the deal! Just be warned that you can only use one of them for yourself. You really do have to give the others away.

Why Pay for a Coupon?
Most of these coupons are great deals. I’ve rarely seen one that was more than double the face value, so if you pay $20 to save $40, your total savings is $20. Yes, you did have to pay, but paying $20 is still cheaper than paying $40.

How to Sign Up
Signing up is easy. Simply choose your geographic area and then provide an email address. You’ll get an email with that day’s offer six days a week (no offers on Sunday.)

If an offer is something you want to buy, then you complete a full registration with billing details so they can charge you. You only have to do this once.

I subscribe to two deal emails – one for Los Angeles and one for the smaller area of Los Angeles where I live. Most cities only have one list, but Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C. all have two or three more. Other areas like New York have a different setup for their different lists. Frequently the deals will be the same across all of the areas in a metro, but occasionally there are different deals.

If you’re planning a trip, you might start checking that city’s deals for any restaurant, spa, or hotel deals that could be interesting.

Other Ways to Find Groupon Deals
Sometimes a national deal will only be advertised in a few cities, but anyone can buy it. This happened with the deal I bought. I also subscribe to a couple of coupon blogs. Frugal Coupon Living posts alerts when great national Groupons are available. In my case, it was an Indianapolis deal.

My Groupon Experience
As I said, I found out about a deal in another city on a blog. It was $25 for a $75 coupon from Wine Insiders. I did a little research and discovered that they had 12-packs of wine for as low as $108, with free shipping. I would have to pay tax, but the final cost would work out to $5.70 per bottle. That’s slightly less than I pay for a bottle at Trader Joe’s, so as long as a bottle was worth more than $5.99, it was a good deal.

I jumped on the deal, and the next day I received an email that it was active. I went to my account and printed the Groupon. Even though I had 12 months, I knew I would forget to use it, so I ordered my Mystery Mix 12-pack within two weeks. The wine arrived about four days later. I researched the bottles and found that the cheapest was $9.99 and the most expensive was $19.99. That’s an average savings of $4.45 a bottle.

I’ve only been tempted by a couple other offers, but have only purchased one. If you like to eat, shop, go to the spa, or try new exercise facilities, give Groupon a try. It’s just one email a day that could save you big bucks!

Note: I’ll get $10 if you use the link above to sign up and then later buy a deal.

The USPS recently announced that they want to raise the price of stamps AGAIN. Now, technically, they’re only allowed to raise the price of stamps in accordance with the inflation rate, but this 2-cent increase is far more than the inflation rate.The Postal Commission will have to approve the increase, but you may be wondering why this keeps happening and what can be done about it.

Why Does the Price of Stamps Keep Increasing?
There are a few reasons why the price of stamps keeps increasing, but the internet is the primary one. Now that we send emails rather than letters and pay and receive bills online rather than by mail, the postal service’s first class mail service has rapidly dwindled. Most of the mail they deliver is junk mail, which commands a much lower rate than first-class mail.

The second reason is competition. FedEx and UPS have taken most of the package business away because many people simply don’t trust the post office to deliver their most important packages on-time.

The third reason is it’s just plain expensive to run a mail service. Several people have proposed privatizing mail service, but the simple fact is that no private company wants to deliver mail to every home in the U.S. It requires a huge workforce, which isn’t cheap. It also requires many offices, trucks, and other equipment. UPS and FedEx would have to charge astronomical rates to deliver magazines to every home in the US with the same efficiency as the postal service. It has to be done by the government because no one else wants to.

Should We Hoard Stamps to Fight the Increases?
When the price of the Forever stamps rises with inflation, you’re not really saving money because it costs the same in today’s dollars as it did to buy the stamps with yesterday’s dollars. However, when Forever stamp prices rise faster than inflation, you should consider buying a few extra books of stamps. They’re coming out with holiday Forever stamps this year – buy a few extra books.

Of course, that will only keep the cost of mailing a letter low. When the post office raises the price of stamps, they also raise the cost of shipping packages. Usually, the USPS is still the cheapest way to mail a package, as long as you don’t mind a little leeway in the delivery time. So, even if you hoard Forever stamps, you really won’t save that much money unless you never, even send packages and send a lot of cards and letters.

Personally, I’ll buy a few extra books if the increase goes through, but only 2-3. If I buy more than that, I’ll have to store them somewhere, which means I’m likely to forget I have them. Instead, I’ll stick with the convenience of buying a book of stamps when my old one runs out. It doesn’t cost that much more and I use them so infrequently that I can spot the post office a few extra cents to ensure that I keep getting mail.

Yellowstone National ParkOne of the best trips my husband and I ever took was our National Park loop. We started in Sedona, where we stayed two nights, then we traveled up to the Grand Canyon National Park for two nights. From there we proceeded to Bryce Canyon National Park for another two, and then finally hopped over to Zion National Park for two more nights. Even though we accidentally went during monsoon season (why didn’t any of our Arizona friends warn us?), it was a fantastic trip made even better by its affordability.

The National Park Pass
If you’re just going to one National Park, the entrance fee is $20 per car ( a few parks are $25). The pass is good for seven days, and doesn’t matter how many people you have in the car. If you’re arriving on foot, bus, motorcycle, or horseback, it’s $10/person (a few parks are $12), also good for 7 days.

If you’re visiting more than four parks on a single trip, or plan to visit more than four parks this year, spring for the America the Beautiful pass, which is $80 for one year. If you’re over the age of 62, a lifetime pass is just $62! If you have a permanent disability, the lifetime pass is free.

All of my relatives have ordered their passes when they turned 62. There’s no reason not to and the funds support our National Parks.

Camping in National Parks
Most National Parks offer camping. The few that don’t have camp sites inside the park have commercial campsite nearby and operate shuttles to those campsites. We ran into the problem at Bryce. However, the external sites were reasonably-priced and very close to the park. We actually got to camp in a teepee!

Of course, National Park campsites book up fast. Most use Recreation.gov to reserve campsites, although the more popular campgrounds sometimes have their own reservations systems. The key to snagging a reservation is advance camping trip planning.

If you can’t camp, look into cabin sites or nearby private campgrounds. You can also try local hotels or motels, which may be more affordable than a hotel in a major city.

There are many advantages to camping however:

  • Food is cheaper because you cook it yourself
  • No taxes or additional fees except the reservation and entrance fees
  • Roasting marshmallows over a fire
  • Relaxing around a fire
  • Seeing stars and hearing wildlife

In addition, most parks offer Ranger activities for kids and evening talks and campfires. There’s never a lack of things to do in a national park! Once you’re in a park, you can usually use the park shuttle to get around, so you can leave your car at the campsite, which saves on gas (and helps reduce pollution in our National Parks.)

Top Ten National Parks
If I’ve whet your appetite for a National Park vacation, consider these ten most popular parks:

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Grand Tetons National Park
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Cuyahoga National Park
  • Acadia National Park

Still not convinced? Check out these Yellowstone National Park pictures. That ought to get you in the mood for an affordable camping vacation!

My trip cost less than $800 for nine days for two people. That included food, gas, a national park pass, six camping nights, two nights in a hotel due to monsoons (seriously, a warning would have been nice), and a $180 rental car because neither of us wanted to take our cars. Four people only would have cost an extra $100 for food.


With the constant fluctuation of economic indicators, often conflicting advice of leading investment gurus, and the legal battles of Wall Street, even the savviest investors are looking hard at their portfolios and re-assessing risk. Consumer indicators are shaky, unemployment (though stabilizing) is at historic highs. But smart investors still have options, and it usually makes a lot more sense to invest your cash wisely rather than hiding it under the mattress. Remember to keep some assets liquid for financial security, although most of the options below have a very short time frame if you need to convert to cash. A carefully researched, planned approach can help you earn a return on your hard earned dollars without getting in over your head.

1. Treasuries (“T-bills”)

T-bills are backed by the government and are considered extremely low-risk investments. These notes are issued to raise funds and pay for government projects, and are some of the most solid investments you can buy. After all, you can choose the maturity date according to your planning needs, and time frames span from several weeks to several years, with varying levels of return depending on the time frame. T-bills are usually offered in increments of $100, and within the past two years the government decreased the minimum investment from $1000 to $100, making these an accessible investment regardless of how much you have to invest.

2. Bond Funds

The principle behind bond funds is basically that of a mutual fund comprised of bonds rather than stocks. Offered by the government and by investment firms, these diversify types of bonds and allow for a higher return. By combining the low risk of a bond with the potential for higher than average returns through different bond vehicles, you get the best of both worlds with a lot of downside protection. Make sure to educate yourself on the types of bond funds as there are a plethora of options out there.

3. Money Markets

Banks are competing hard for your deposited dollars these days, and this is one case where consumers can benefit from the current economic downturn. With so many competing offers, you may snag a higher interest rate on a money market account than some bonds and CD’s. A monkey market account consists of relatively low risk, high quality short term investments (similar in theory to a type of mutual fund). A few caveats- the higher the amount of cash, the higher the rate you’ll likely be offered, and make sure to check to see if the rate is fixed or a ‘teaser’ rate that is only applicable for 90 days (or some other finite timeline). Money market accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000.

4. CDs

CD’s are notorious for being safe places to stow cash. Rates vary based on time frame, like bonds, but Certificates of Deposit are issued by banks rather than the government, and have a locked interest rate. Typically, there’s only a small penalty if you need to liquidate the CD before it matures. And while rates aren’t as high as the return on stocks or some bonds, it’s still a great way to earn some interest on your cash.

5. 401k/Retirement Accounts

Employer sponsored 401(k) plans offer a place to park pre-tax dollars to help save for retirement. While many employers cut matching contributions during the recession, even a 1% match is free money. Allocate your retirement portfolio according to your risk tolerance. If you’re self employed or your employer doesn’t offer a match, consider a traditional IRA or a ROTH IRA based on your tax needs and years to retirement.

When she’s not watching the DJIA tank, Melissa Tamura writes about online schools for the Zen College Life blog. She most recently ranked the best accredited online colleges.

Before my husband went on disability, we stopped spending money in order to increase our savings. We’ve found that our spending has actually been much lower while he’s been out of work, but we also had a few unexpected events develop where the savings has come in handy.

Delays in Disability Pay
The first issue is delays in processing disability pay. We were prepared for it to take up to a month to get the first check, so we needed to have at least one month’s expenses in the bank. As it turned, we got the first check in two weeks, but it gave us peace of mind anyway.

Being on Disability Longer than Planned
We initially planned for my husband to be out of work for two months. Due to a complication, that timeline stretched out to three months. We reached that point, and another small issue arose. My husband won’t be returning to work until three and a half months after he went out, and he may not be full time at first. Fortunately, we still have savings to cover any gaps, because our spending will start to rise again once he returns to work.

Gaps in Disability Pay
The initial disability application had an end date of April 1. At the end of that period, the state sent us an extension form, but it took a month to restart the payments from that point. We received back pay, but our check account got a little low during the gap period because we also had a plumbing emergency and some work done on the kitchen. Again, because we’d saved up, we were able to cover the gap without a great deal of stress. We were close to transferring money from our savings, but the checks arrived just in time.

So far we haven’t had to spend any of our savings, although we will when the plumber finally asks to be paid. We were very fortunate to be able to plan for disability, but this is yet another reason you need an emergency fund. California provides state disability pay (funds come from employee payroll taxes), but most other states do not. If you don’t have disability insurance, or your disability coverage is taxable, make sure you have enough money to cover a three-month shortfall. You’ll be glad you did you or a family member suffers an accident or illness.

I mostly use Facebook to keep up with friends (I’m a lurker, not an updater.) Then I became a fan of a few of my favorite companies. I quickly discovered that many offer exclusive coupons or announce early sales on Facebook. So far I’ve saved $507 at Cost Plus World Market using Facebook coupons. Here’s how:

Fan Your Favorite Stores
The easiest way to get coupons and sale announcements is to simply become a fan of the store. Most stores don’t bombard you with status updates (unlike certain “Ville” applications.) Just keep an eye out for updates from those stores each time you check Facebook.

Search for Stores and Read Their Updates
Some stores don’t require you to become a fan in order to print a coupon. Simply search for the store in Facebook and then read their recent updates to see if they’ve announced Fan-only coupons or have publicly-available coupons listed.

Search for Coupons, then Become a Facebook Fan
It’s understandable that you might not want to Fan a bunch of stores. But there’s another trick, which is how I knew to become a Cost Plus Facebook fan in the first place: coupon code sites. I used top coupon sites to search for Cost Plus coupons. One of the sites mentioned that they announce coupons on Facebook. I joined and discovered the 25% coupon would be available for that weekend. This weekend I received a $10 off $30 coupon from Cost Plus, and a free tote bag I learned about through their Fan page.

Sign up for Newsletters
Occasionally a store will announce its newsletter specials on Facebook. Take the hint that you should sign up for their email newsletter and get even more coupons.

Check Coupon Blogs
Two of my favorite coupon blogs are Money Saving Mom and Frugal Coupon Living. They’ve both announced coupon specials for becoming a fan of different brands of butter, milk, etc. Simply add these blogs to your RSS feed and then check for Facebook coupons. Once you’ve joined the Facebook fan page and printed your coupon, unfan the page.

Of course, there are other ways to get coupons. I’m now a World Market rewards member, so I will also be notified of sales by email, but I never would have known about that program without Facebook. Use the power of Facebook wisely and you could save a lot of money without a lot of effort.

Recently, CNN challenged its iReporters to spend $10 and report back their results. Some were less than creative, for example, two $5 footlong subs. Most of us can do better than that, like the couple that bought 8 seed packets and projects they’ll get over $1700 worth of spinach. (I guess they really like spinach. I would have gotten a few different kinds of seeds.)

My Best $10 Purchases
Here are just a few of my favorite $10 and under purchases:

Toilet Paper
One of my best $10 deals was 40 rolls of toilet paper last November. Although, there was tax, so we’ll say I spent $10.97 total (I can’t remember if I had a coupon or not.) Those rolls of toilet paper lasted 24 weeks (we’re down to the last 3 rolls.) They would have lasted longer, but my husband has been home for the better part of three months. Still, six months worth of toilet paper isn’t bad for $10!

Tomatoes
Rather than seeds, I bought heirloom tomato seedlings. They were $4 each, so that brings my total to $8. If each plant produces 20 pounds of fruit, and organic tomatoes are $2 a pound at the local farmer’s market, then that’s $40 worth of tomatoes.

Microwave Cart
When I got my first solo apartment, the microwave my parents handed down to me wouldn’t fit on my 1950s countertops. I went to Goodwill and bought a sturdy, rolling, wooden cart for $10. Fifteen years later, I still have that cart. When I moved in with my husband, it became our bar/Christmas tree stand. It’s usually a bar in our new house, but at Thanksgiving we cleared it off and rolled it into the dining room to serve as a sideboard. I’ve never refinished it, repaired it, or done anything to it.

Art
I like to buy locally-produced art as a souvenir when I travel. I usually choose landscapes or something really emblematic of the area. Several times, I’ve found beautiful pieces for $10 which serve as a constant reminder of my trips.

Computer Game
There was that time I spent one cent on a computer game as a gift for my husband. He still plays it. I’m pretty sure the store had taken inventory and missed it in stock, so the system was updated with the lowest possible price. But that’s how it rang up and the clerk said she had to sell it to me at that price, so I took the deal.

Roasting Pan
Recently I scored a brand new, non-stick roasting pan for $6.46. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Do you look out for good deals? What are some of your best $10 and under scores?

This weekend I snagged on a good deal on a roasting pan. It was on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond for $20 with a $10 mail-in rebate. In addition, I was able to use one of their $5 of $15 coupons on the purchase. That will bring my total cost down to $6.46 (including tax) for an 18” roasting pan with rack. If you want one, the rebate goes through 12/31/2010. It was a fantastic deal, but I only jumped on it because I knew it was the right time.

When Is a Good Deal Worth It?
I don’t jump on every good deal that comes my way. For example, this week I’m snapping up deals on Coke, vegetable oil, peanut butter, and Tums. Last week it was tomato sauce and a roasting pan. However, I don’t jump every time I see a deal. For example, a few weeks ago Cost Plus had ceramic rectangular baking pan for $10. Not a bad price, but not worth buying because I already have a ceramic baking pan.

Here are my guidelines for jumping on a good deal:

Immediate necessity. I don’t actually need the pan this week, but I know I will need it soon. So, it passes the first test.

Repeated use potential. This is a roasting pan, so I know I will use it repeatedly. I see lots of good deals in Target ads that would be fun to have, but they might not be things I’d get a lot of use out of, so I don’t rush out to buy them.

Not duplicative. If I’d jumped on the ceramic baking pan deal, I would have been duplicating something I already had, in fact something I’d bought just two weeks earlier. While I already have a roasting pan, it’s not a good one. This year, my family came to my house for Thanksgiving and my mom had to bring her roasting pan with her. She inherited her pan from my grandmother, but obviously that’s not likely to happen in my case for another 20-30 years, too long to wait for a roasting pan that actually fits a turkey.

Will be used quickly. This one applies to food. I only buy enough of a good deal that I’ll be able to use it all before it expires. I use a lot of peanut butter, so I always snag those deals.

When Is a Good Deal Not Worth It?
The primary time when a good deal isn’t worth it is when it’s not really that good a deal. It might seem like a deal, but if you follow prices, you know it’s really not. For example, at Christmas, I got 40 rolls of toilet paper for $10. That was a good deal at my local stores. I’ve also seen deals where the toilet paper would have been $15 – not quite as good a deal because I know it will go lower.

If it’s something you don’t need and don’t have a use for, then it’s also not a good deal. The ceramic baking pan is an example. I needed one, so I bought one I liked at a good price. I didn’t need two, so I didn’t buy a second one.

There is also the issue of storage. When I lived in an apartment, it wouldn’t have been as easy to stock up on the toilet paper deal. I probably still would have, because I could stuff it into various crannies, but I probably would have held off on the roasting pan due to storage problems. If you don’t have room for the stuff you buy, then it’s not a good deal.

Finding Deals that Are Good for You
I carry a little notebook with my everywhere. One of the items in that notebook is a list of things I need to buy for my house or for myself. Then, every Sunday I check out the weekly ads for the stores I know are likely to carry those items. I quickly scan for items on my lists. If I see a good deal, I add the store and the item to my weekly to do list. If there’s a coupon for the item, I put it in the pocket at the back of the notebook. By comparing my list to the ads, I’m less tempted to jump on deals that don’t really work for me.

Apparently the American wallet is aching to be taken out for a spin and a slew of people have decided that thrift stores are the best place to do that. I haven’t been to a thrift store in a while, but this weekend I decided to walk down to one while waiting for my oil change. I expected it to be quiet and empty. Boy was I surprised!

The place was packed. The aisles were jammed with stuff. I saw whole families inside. And it wasn’t even a very nice thrift store. It was somewhat messy and cramped. But that didn’t stop these bargain shoppers!

Toys
There were several families with small children at the thrift store. The toys were piled on top of the clothing racks, but I saw several kids toting “new” toys. None of the toys were in terrible shape, so I’m guessing it’s a great place to get a recently hot toy that some other child doesn’t want anymore.

Books
There was a decent selection of books, some of them hardcovers in excellent condition being sold for $2-$3. I saw a few kids in this section, too, looking for the Lightning Thief series.

Clothing
There were several parents in the children’s clothing aisles. If you’re going to buy one thing at a thrift store, this is a good choice. Kids grow out of their clothes so quickly that you can find trendy stuff at bargain prices. Just make sure you check the elbows and knees for wear and examine it for stains. Missing buttons are easily replaced.

Depending on your area, you may also find amazing clothes for adults, including designer clothing and expensive shoes at bargain prices.

Dishes/Home Décor
They had a variety of dishes in decent condition priced $1 and up. I saw platters, fancy wine glasses, matching plates, and some glass knick-knacks. If you’re hosting a party and want real glassware, a thrift store is a fun place to pick unusual choices on the cheap. Recent grads and college students – this is the place to stock up on everything you need. All your friends will have cast-offs and thrift store finds, too, so you’ll be in good company.

TVs/Electronics
I was surprised to see a decent selection of small TVs. They weren’t flat screens, but they’re good options if you need a TV for a guest room or workshop. Some of them may need a digital converter box, so make sure you can turn it on and get an over-the-air signal if you don’t own a box or have cable.

Fabric/Sheets/Comforters
I know from a quilting friend that thrift stores are very popular among quilters and crafters looking for vintage bed linens or unusual fabrics. I saw tons of comforters, sheets, and tablecloths. I even saw what appeared to be several yards of purple organza – perfect for a little girl’s costume. If you’re a crafter or need some inexpensive fabric for any reason, this is the place to go.

Wedding Dresses
I won’t say these wedding dresses were the most fashionable I’ve ever seen, but most of them were clean and in good condition. If you want to make your own dress, consider hitting up a thrift store first. You can use the beads and lace to rebuild the bodice. You might be able to use the skirt and train without too much modification. You’d pay hundreds of dollars for this fabric at another store, so make the most of a thrift store bargain.

Furniture
This particular store was too small to have a significant furniture section, but I once found a microwave stand at a thrift store. Well, actually, it was just a small rolling cart, but it was $10, so I bought it for my microwave. It’s now my “bar.” At Thanksgiving, it was my rolling buffet because I didn’t have enough room on the table. Larger thrift stores are great places to find dressers, couches, and other furniture if you’re willing to put a little work into them, or are a college student on a budget.

If you need to shop, but don’t want to spend a lot, check Yelp for reviews of the local thrift stores and then hit up the largest one. You might find an amazing deal on exactly what you need. I don’t remember Saturday morning, though. That’s apparently the time to shop.

Bargain hunting is a real fun. You won’t be able to save a fortune by collecting and using coupons but you will save a precious penny and what’s more important you’ll make a smarter shopper: by learning how to find and organize coupons you’ll broaden your outlook:

  • You get to know more places where you can buy anything you need;
  • You become aware of broader product range and less popular manufactures;
  • You learn to compare prices and estimate what the offer is really worth;
  • You make contacts with people who shop online and know a lot; etc.

There are plenty more benefits, however there are a few issues as well. The worst thing that may happen to you when hunting for freebies and bargains is getting scammed. The two things that may happen after that are:

  1. Your private information can be stolen (and used to send you spam for example);
  2. Your money may be stolen (which is actually worse).

This post looks at 3 effective ways to research any product or deal reviews to keep your privacy and money safe:

Twitter search

Twitter is a widely popular site where people come to share opinions on anything, including shopping. Using Twitter search you can find conversations about any product or special offer you want to research. One trick that always comes in handy is using sentiment search to find negative reviews or bad experience shared:

! Use a smiling icon in your search that reflects negative emotion :(

Example: [:( amazon]


Trusted sources

The best advice I have ever got regarding online shopping was that I only need to use trusted sources of deals and freebies to keep myself safe from scam. I know there are quite a few but here’s what I am personally using (and tested by experience):

Buxr.com is an online community where shoppers meet to exchange deals and freebies they came across and had some luck with. The resource have three huge advantages:

  • Deals are submitted by real shoppers who also review each others’ submissions;
  • Submissions are pre-moderated (administrators check deals before publishing them);
  • Members rate deals, so you can easily identify most useful and trusted ones:

ListFreeSamples: you won’t find actually reviews at this site but I had to mention this one for one reason that it only uses official sources of freebies and deals; so if you are serious about your privacy, this resource should be in your list:

Specialized forums

There are a few useful specialized forums which will help you check if the merchant you are considering has ever been involved into scam.

Scam.com is one of those places (and actually one of the best of them). It is very active and has a huge database of scammers in a number of categories (MLM / Pyramid scams, Internet scams, etc). The forum has a robust search feature for you to quickly look through the mentions of the offer or seller’s name:

And how do you try to keep your privacy safe when shopping online? Please share your thoughts!

The guest post was provided by Ann Smarty, a search blogger and online shopper. If you are looking for guest posts, create your profile at Ann’s forum called My Blog Guest – the place where bloggers and guest posters can meet to exchange posts and help each other.

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