How to Create a Deal-Finding Homepage

I love keeping an eye out for bargains. I’m the type of person who will come up with Christmas present ideas for people in March and spend nine months sitting on that idea, waiting for the right price to come along. I won’t hesitate in the least to jump on obviously exceptional bargains in areas I’m familiar with – video games, for example – because, if nothing else, I can usually trade or re-sell them at a profit.

The only problem is that chasing bargains like this takes time – time I don’t necessarily have. I used to have a routine of visiting a number of bargain sites, but after a while, I found more and more useful sites and it became harder and harder to keep up with all of them.

So I found a better solution (which I’ve hinted at in the past). Using a number of easy-to-use online tools, I built a single webpage that shows me the best deals from tons of different online sources all in one place, customized to show me just the deals I want. Better yet, I can access this page from any computer.

Sound good? Here’s how it’s done.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Deal-Finding Homepage

1. iGoogle: The Backbone

iGoogle is quite nifty. To put it simply, it lets you create a custom web page that is automatically updated with whatever you want to add to it – news, sports scores, weather, stock tickers, and so on. Here’s the URL:

http://www.google.com/ig

When you first visit the URL above (and sign in, if you have a Google account), you’ll get a small handful of default “gadgets.” Get rid of these so that you have some space to add more useful stuff. First, click on the down arrow on the left (seen below) and choose the option to “Edit this tab…”

help

Then, click on “Delete” for all of the gadgets and then click on the “Save” button in the upper right. You’ll go back to an empty iGoogle page, ready to be loaded up with some great gadgets for bargain hunting.

2. Adding New Gadgets

So, how do you actually add new things to this page? This is similarly easy. Just click on the “Add stuff” link over on the right hand side of the page…

igoogle

… then click on the “Add feed or gadget” link on the right.

igoogle

You’ll get a little popup box that asks you to paste in a feed URL. Once you do that, the contents of that URL will be added to the iGoogle homepage.

But what URLs can you add? There are lots of great URLs out there loaded with bargains. Let’s go through a few.

3. Bargain Websites

Below, I’ve listed ten different feed URLs that you can copy and paste directly into iGoogle, as described above. Just copy the URL below, paste it as described above, and it becomes an automatically updating part of your iGoogle homepage.

If you use a feed reader, you can subscribe to any of these (likely just by clicking through, depending on how your system is configured):

Amazon Gold Box

http://rssfeeds.s3.amazonaws.com/goldbox
This lists almost all of the daily deals available from Amazon.com.

CheapTweet

This lists deals posted on Twitter, filtered by the users of CheapTweet.com.

Coupons.com

http://www.coupons.com/rss.asp
This lists the latest coupons from Coupons.com, most of which are for discounts on household products.

Dealnews (Most Popular)

http://content.dealnews.com/dealnews/rss/popular.xml
This lists the most popular deals discovered by Dealnews.com.

Dealspl.us

http://feeds.feedburner.com/dealspl/all
This lists a huge number of deals on a wide variety of products, filtered by social bookmarking sites. This is definitely one worth filtering (see below) because a lot of stuff comes through.

FatWallet.com Hot Deals

http://feeds.feedburner.com/FatwalletHotDeals
This lists a wide variety of deals (mostly technology items).

SlickDeals.net

http://feeds.feedburner.com/SlickdealsnetFP
This includes a wide variety of deals from many sources, all filtered by the SlickDeals community. This is definitely one worth filtering (see below).

Woot.com

http://www.woot.com/Blog/Feed.ashx
This is a daily tech deal site that often has amazing bargains.

4. Bargain Twitterers

A few months ago, I mentioned that there are many useful people on Twitter worth following for the deals they post. If you’re not into Twitter and would rather “follow” these people in another way, you can keep track of the posted deals using this iGoogle technique. Here are the feed URLs for seven Twitterers I mentioned in the article.

DellOutlet

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/5688592.rss
Computer deals from Dell.

AmazonDeals

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/1922861.rss
Lots of “hidden” deals from Amazon.com.

AmazonMp3

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/14740219.rss
Excellent legal albums in mp3 format for $1.99-2.99.

Dealyzer

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/17331003.rss
A wide variety of deals of all types.

DealUniversity

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/17893953.rss
An excellent assortment of tech deals.

CheapTweet

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/17545909.rss
An aggregation of many of the best deals posted to Twitter.

BooksAMillion

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/17248079.rss
A great collection of deals on books.

5. Filter These URLs

You might find that all of these things are overkill – you can’t possibly keep track of hundreds of deals a day. If that’s the case, it’s quite easy to simply filter them, focusing in on the specific items you’re looking for.

FeedSifter.com lets you put in a RSS feed URL (like the ones above), then filter it for any list of terms you put in, then gives you an output feed that contains only the items that match the terms you listed. I actually described using FeedFilter once before, to similar ends.

Let’s see this in play. I like to use Amazon’s Gold Box (described above) for certain types of bargains: video games, cookbooks, and a few other odds and ends. I don’t have time for – and don’t really care that much – about the other deals that Gold Box might give me.

So, I’d fill out Feed Sifter like this:

feed filter sample

A quick note: search terms fewer than three characters match everything, so use ones longer than that.

When you click on the “Filter my Feed” button, you’ll get an option to subscribe to that new feed. Click on that and you’ll find that the Amazon feed is now filtered for those search terms. Copy THIS URL and add it to iGoogle as described at the top of this post, and you’ll be able to see the latest deals, filtered to your specifications, whenever you want.

You can filter ANY of the above URLs in the same way using FeedFilter. Personally, I filter some feeds (SlickDeals) and don’t filter others (AmazonMp3).

How Do I Use It?

I have a nice big page built on this technique that I visit several times a day. Perhaps once a week, I’ll find something worth picking up – but when I do find something, I’m usually saving quite a bit on that item.

Give it a try! It takes a bit of time to get such a page set up, but once you’re set up and ready to go, it can be a big help when you’re looking for Christmas gifts or for specific bargains for yourself.

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. DB Cooper says:

    “I have a nice big page built on this technique that I visit several times a day.” Just sounds like a variant of a shop-a-holoc to me.

    Rather than be bombarded by offers and “deals,” I prefer to wait until I see a true need in my life, then seek the best bargain to meet that need.

    What you’re doing sounds more like wandering around a mall hoping to find a good deal on something you didn’t know you “needed” in the first place.

  2. James B says:

    Hi Trent, please could you post the link from the Share this tab in IGoogle. Thanks.

  3. Erich says:

    @DB Cooper I both agree and disagree with your sentiment: on the disagree side, there have been plenty of times I’ve found truely useful “things” in ads. Frequently they solve problems that I had written off as “one of life’s inconveniences”. Most recently I found a rack that would nicely hold all the gardening tools while minimizing space. It is much nicer than leaning them all in a corner of the garage and detangling them whenever I use them. I found that via ad in the Sunday paper.

    That brings up my other point: this is a great replacement technique for the Sunday paper. Now I can finally cancel that subscription! Thanks Trent.

  4. Eric says:

    Thanks Trent!!

    I never used iGoogle before but I just set it up according to your instructions and it’s awesome.

    Thanks for the tip! I love it. :)

  5. TW says:

    Trent,

    First, that’s a great post, well written and lots of information.

    Second, I agree with DB Cooper. This is like a diabetic “just browsing” in a candy store. I have noticed that I spend more when I browse sights like cnet’s cheapskate etc. Maybe it’s just me but I think those of us working on being financially healthy and have a history of debt should stay away from all of the “deal sites” out there.

    IMHO, If you are looking for something very specific, that’s one thing but like others have said, if your “browse” these kind of deals long enough you’ll find yourself slipping into old habits. It will start by spending some of your “extra” cash but could lead to spending more than you can, leading to the use of credit cards etc.

    I think a lot of us reading your site have been down that road, me, I’ve been there and now I’m off it, I plan to stay as far away from it as I can.

    TW

  6. Matt says:

    I agree, this would only make me buy things I didn’t need.

  7. Sandy E. says:

    While I appreciate the information, that’s not how I want to spend my time, and yes, if there’s a need, then some of those websites would be helpful (which I think is all you meant). But at the same time, I can’t help but wonder how many people might be addicted to the computer, so that they aren’t getting an hour’s worth of exercise in each day, and maybe whose relationships are suffering too. I don’t know, maybe instead of sitting there, clicking on a mouse, it would be more beneficial to walk the dog for a fast-paced one hour walk, which is what I just did and take the time to do every day. It makes me grateful for my own health and abilities instead of “wanting” or “yearning” for something I saw on a sale website. If anything, sometimes I yearn for the good old days when we weren’t bombarded w/so much information.

  8. 60 in 3 - Health and Fitness says:

    @Matt,
    That depends on how you use it. I have a list of “to buy” items. Items I would like to have but are not an immediate need. Things like a new mattress since my current one is about dead or specific books I’m interested in. These aren’t important enough needs for me to go out and look for them but I will put them on a list somewhere and then occasionally check deals. If there’s a deal somewhere on an item from my list, I’ll consider the price, do a short search to see if I can find a better deal and then pick up the item.

    Gal

  9. steve in W MA says:

    This could be useful for things you don’t really need but which have to be bought–like xmas presents or things like that where you have an entire year to come up with something.

    Otherwise, I find that for myself, if I really needed it, I would need to buy it *now*, not in 6 months. And if I can wait 6 months to buy it, I don’t need it in the first plac-it’s more a “want”.

    Still, a useful technique for some items I guess.

  10. Andrea says:

    Lots of good things here! Alas, several of the coupon sites will not let you print the coupon to a file–and several won’t let you print at all if you aren’t using a Windows machine. (I need to see if I can get the Coupon Printer to install using WINE WIindows Emulator.)

  11. Andrea says:

    I think the point isn’t to compulsively browse the sites, but to have a list of what one needs this week. When I am making my grocery list I pull out the Sunday coupons to see if there’s anything there that either I need that week (or that would be cheaper than something on the list AND that I can use as an acceptable substitute). that said, I don’t buy a lot of prepackaged foods, and I tend to shop at the farmer’s market … all the same, coupons can help for some prepackaged items.

  12. Leslie Lang says:

    Wow, this is a great idea! I’m going to check this out.

    I wanted to let you know, too, that a partner and I run two “On The Cheap” websites, where we update free, cheap and discount things to do in Honolulu and on the Big Island.

    There are these “On The Cheap” websites for more than 40 cities in the U.S., and they are updated multiple times on most days. Check Cities On The Cheap to find your own city, and then you’ll find a wonderful source of inexpensive activities, entertainment, food deals and more in your own backyard. Pretty soon we’ll all have so much extra money rolling around in our pockets!

    If you’d ever like to write about our Cities On The Cheap websites, please let me know. Most of us that run these sites are freelance writers with families who enjoy sharing information on how to live well but more frugally in our areas.

    I love your site and information. You do a great job!

    Leslie Lang
    Big Island On The Cheap
    Honolulu On The Cheap

  13. John says:

    You might want to try a deal aggregater. One I sometimes use is http://www.wisebread.com/bestdeals. Of course, the problem with an aggregater is that the deals are what someone else selected from all the deal web sites (and thus may not meet your needs).

  14. Daniel says:

    I normally used SlickDeals and have to admit that it saved me quite a good sum of money. Another day I came across another website DealsComplete.com. It looks cleaner than other sites with lots of discount. Although, the website is still in Beta stage so you might find bits and pieces still in development.

  15. nickel says:

    I quit frequenting sites like SlickDeals, etc. a long time ago, as I generally ended up finding “deals” and buying stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t have bought. Now, when I actually need something, I seek out a deal. Even if I end up spending slightly more than I might have if I had been tracking all of the deal pages, I come out ahead because I don’t wind up buying other stuff.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Thanks! Great idea. I use a separate “Deals” tab that I created to separate the deals from the other stuff on my My Yahoo! page. Another good website to try is the DealCatcher.com RSS feed:
    http://rss.dealcatcher.com/rss.xml

  17. Mike says:

    This also works pretty good if you use Google Reader (or a any feed reader, I guess). One website you missed that’s pretty good for software is http://www.giveawayoftheday.com.

  18. Doris says:

    I never leave a comment but I and had to drop a note to tell ya how much I loved this piece on “Deal-finding homepage”, LOVED IT!!
    Now to put it in action, lol.
    Keep those great tips coming!!

  19. socialnerdia says:

    This is a great post. I do recommend Netvibes instead of iGoogle though, it’s nice to have the tabs.

    Greetings from your friends at socialnerdia (dot) com

  20. Vizak says:

    I use http://pritdeals.com. They have already setup to check multi deal sites and it works very fast and sorts by price. You should check it out.

  21. I would also recommend that people look at their buying needs and tailor their feeds accordingly. There are a lot of specialty blogs and websites (ours being one, of course) that do a good job of aggregating sales in a specific area for you, so you don’t even have to use a filter if you’re not comfortable with the extra step.

  22. Martin says:

    BTW, one quick way to set up some feeds like this in iGoogle is to select “add a tab” in the drop menu box and then name it “Deals”. Google will automatically generate some of the feeds that you mention. Pretty cool for those of us who are just too lazy to add feeds one by one.

  23. onaclov says:

    I really like this tip, I was looking into it and then ran into the “blog” stuff for google and am giving it a try now!

    Good luck on finding deals everyone!!!!

  24. onaclov says:

    I really like this tip, I was looking into it and then ran into the “blog” stuff for google and am giving it a try now!

    Good luck on finding deals everyone!!!!

    One quick question, I can’t seem to figure out how to “remove” an rss feed, I have one from amazon but can’t get rid of it, or replace it.

  25. Raj says:

    All these deals are already available through http://fonet.mobi check it out through their RSS feeds

  26. LifeCheaper says:

    Great post! I have always used Google Reader to keep track of the RSS feeds from deal sites, but with iGoogle it’s much easier because it’s all on one page!

    Another way of “filtering” is to join Slickdeals and set up email alerts for when there is a great deal on a specific item. I have found some great bargains this way.

  27. Steve says:

    You might consider including this feed too http://feedproxy.google.com/crazybargain

  28. David Michael Cunningham says:

    Whether you agree or disagree with his reasoning, the technique that he outlined can be used for many other things to help streamline your life to become more efficient. So if you don’t agree with the reason this technique was developed, think about the ways that you could use the technique in other areas of your life that you may want to keep tabs on (no pun intended).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>