I’m a devoted online shopper. I love to buy local, but there are some things that I love to get online, especially during the holidays. Here’s why:
1. Internet-only options abound. You can find things online that you just can’t find in stores: specialty foods, rare Lego sets, collector’s items, hard-to-find sizes. Many colors, styles and items are “internet only.”
2. Returns are easy (if you buy from stores that allow for easy returns), and this makes gifting easier, too. If I buy my brother-in-law a sweater from the Gap and he hates it, he can walk into any Gap in America and return it. He doesn’t even have to tell me.
3. Buying online can be less expensive. I love to compare prices, google discount codes, and read reviews while I’m shopping: I’m much more confident about my purchases with the extra information.
4. The merchant will ship your gifts for you. I hate going to the post office, so if I’m buying a gift for a far-away friend, I love to do it online. The merchant will ship directly to my friend; I don’t have to pay extra or hassle with packing tape.
5. Online shopping suits my personality. I hate making snap decisions. I like to mull things over a bit, and that holds true for Christmas shopping. I can’t reflect on whether or not my mom would like those throw pillows while I’m standing in the aisle at Target. If I shop online, I don’t have to make a fast decision in the store before I move on to the next place. I have time to think about it, and I love that.
I wish I’d known these 3 things sooner:
1. Swagbucks. I waited too long to sign up for Swagbucks because I thought it sounded too good to be true. I wish I’d signed up sooner! Swagbucks is an online search engine that gives you points for searching, which you trade in for prizes. I always get the $5 Amazon gift card. I have the Swagbucks toolbar installed, but I don’t aggressively pursue Swagbucks, and I’ve still earned $200 worth of Amazon gift cards since I joined two years ago. You can sign up here.
2. Ebates. This is a another program I thought must be too good to be true. Ebates users get “cash back” in the form of a quarterly check by starting their online shopping at the Ebates site. You can sign up here.
Many merchants participate, and the percentage of cash back varies widely: right now, Banana Republic is 10%, Target is 4%, Staples is 4%, Snapfish is 20%, Barnes and Noble is 8%. The percentages fluctuate, especially during the holidays. Ebates typically has great Black Friday deals: two years ago Gap and Old Navy both offered 20% cash back Thanksgiving week.
Shop at Home is a similar cash-back site that has a great reputation, but so far, I’ve just stuck to Ebates.
3. Amazon Universal Wish List. For my husband’s side of the family, we all maintain an Amazon Wish List, which is just like a registry, except that it’s for birthdays and Christmas. (My inner etiquette snob used to hate the idea, but we’ve been using these things for 10 years now and they’ve turned out to be useful tools.)
The universal wish list allows you to add any item, from any website, to your wish list. I can register for anything available online, regardless of whether or not Amazon sells it. Last year I asked for–and received–several items from Compassion International’s Christmas catalog to my Universal Wish List–gifts like safe drinking water, school supplies, and mosquito nets.
How much holiday shopping do you do online? Got any great tips? Share them in comments!
photo courtesy fauxto_digit
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