Isra Hashmi is better known as the Frugalette. This Boston mom of three has made a name for herself by saving money, having fun, finding the meaning of life and blogging about how to do it. Or as Isra likes to describe it, “I took my family from fancy to frugal in three years, with three kids and one income.” Her blog, The Frugalette, is a wealth of information on how Boston moms can save big and still find plenty of fun things to do with the kids or with their friends.

“I love online shopping,” says Isra. “It’s my favorite way to score a deal actually. Here are the five tips I always tell people.”
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(WBZ-TV photo)

Sign up

“Sign up for your favorite stores’ newsletters, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter,” Isra advises. “Their fans and loyal customers always get heads up on the best deals, sneak sales and limited coupon codes.”

If you love deals but don’t love an inbox full of spam, consider making up an extra email address. You can use this address when you sign up for newsletters and keep your regular inbox free for personal and work correspondence.

(File image credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Get your cash back

“Shop through a cash-back site like or,” says Isra. “When you shop through one of their links, you get a percentage back on your shopping total. I prefer because it offers a 110 percent price match guarantee on any site that is giving back a higher percentage than they are. I have used the guarantee twice and it was super easy.”

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Mind the shipping

Many shoppers are put off when they find a great deal online only to find out that the shipping puts it back up to sky high prices when they get to the checkout. It’s part of the reason why large sites like Amazon have instituted deals like Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping with membership.

“Always look for free shipping or the option to pick up at the local brick and mortar store. Or if you are planning to make a large order, many stores, like, will give free shipping over $50, and free returns. If you shop online a lot, it may be worth it to sign up for a membership on It offers free two-day shipping and free returns at over 80 stores online, including places like Toys R Us, FTD and even Domino’s pizza. It’s free for 30 days and then $79/year after. It also offers free memberships to American Express card holders.”

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Know when to shop

Sometimes when you shop is more important than where you shop.

“Shop major holiday and end of season sales,” advises Isra. “Right now, summer clearance sales are happening all over the internet. I never shop Black Friday, but I score all of the best deals on Cyber Monday. The next big deals to watch for would be computers and fall clothing with all of the back to school sales in August.”

Clip your (virtual) coupons

“Always look for a coupon code or promo code,” says Isra. “By checking sites like or even the store’s Twitter feed, you can find promo codes that will help save even more off the total. I’ve even tweeted stores right before making a purchase if they have any coupon codes current right now and twice they’ve given me one to use!”

Renee Mallett is the author of several books about art, culture, and New England. She was the owner and director of an art gallery and has written about arts and entertainment on a national level for several print and online journals. Her work can be found at