5 Things I Love About Shopping Online, and 3 Things I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

5 Things I Love About Shopping Online, and 3 Things I Wish I'd Learned Sooner

5 things I love about shopping online, and 3 things I wish I'd learned sooner

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 save money. 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 ships 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 takes care of shipping, and often for free.

5.  Online shopping suits my personality. I hate making snap decisions. 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.

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.

How much shopping do you do online?  Got any great tips?  Share them in comments!

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  1. I AM an online shopper. While there’s a side of me that loves finding the perfect gift while browsing in a store, I have to be in the right mood to spend time fighting crowds and having the patience to wait for the right item. I would say that a good 90% of my shopping is done online because I can get much better prices (including free shipping, sometimes skipping sales tax, and coupon discounts).

    You named the three tools that I used when shopping: Swagbucks (love those Amazon cards!), Ebates (I haven’t switched to Shop at Home yet, even though I’ve heard they sometimes have better cash back deals), and the Amazon Universal List. In fact, the hubby just spent time doing all of his Christmas shopping for me based on the two lists that I emailed him (Amazon, and my wish list from Pinterest). It makes it easier for everyone – he knows I’m going to like what I get, I know I’m going to like what I get, money isn’t wasted, and because I have so many items on the list, I’m still surprised by what he picked. Win-win-win-win. 🙂

    The only other tool that I use is our Amazon credit card – we earn some great points back from using it to buy gas and groceries, and since we pay it off in full before the due date, we couldn’t be happier with our “free” Amazon credit! 🙂

  2. Barb S. says:

    Isn’t the Compassion catalog wonderful? I never thought about putting those on my wish list. I do love that I can keep one wish list for EVERYTHING rather than lists at multiple sites.

  3. I do a lot of online shopping too, especially this year with a baby coming anytime now, it will make it much easier to get all our Christmas shopping done! And I’ve found some really amazing deals online. I recently joined Swagbucks and have earned $30 or so in Amazon gift cards in the past two months – it seemed too good to be true, but it’s worked for me! I have also used Shop at Home a few times, which is similar to Ebates it sounds like, I wonder which one is better. I also like MyPoints, my may end up switching to just using something like Ebates or Shop at Home. With MyPoints, you get points for your online purchases that start from their site (I think Swagbucks actually does something similar) and those points add up until you can redeem them for gift cards – I think Ebates will end up being a better deal though.

    I am excited to use Amazon wish lists with the baby because I really want to avoid getting tons of junky toys from family members for the holidays. My grandparents used to go crazy with buying us toys when we were younger and we ended up with rooms full of toys we never played with – I’m hoping if we have a list, family won’t go overboard and will get items that we actually need for the little one (especially books – can never have enough books!).

  4. I didn’t know about these rebate programs! The Amazon wishlist has been an awesome thing in our lives. I felt a little weird about it at first, but many of our family members have said that they really appreciate it.

  5. Emily B says:

    I love the idea of adding Compassion/World Vision gifts for others to my list! I have an Amazon list and it will be getting a few of those added today!

  6. Audrey says:

    These are some really great tips! I just went and joined both Swagbucks and Ebates. I’m still not really clear how you earn points on SBs, though. Do you have to spend a lot of time doing things to earn them and tracking down codes, etc? I do as much of my shopping online as I can. I like being able to think things through, compare prices, take my time, and look for coupons. Plus, it’s fun to get stuff in the mail!

    • Anne says:

      The easiest way is to use the search engine just like you would google. I have the toolbar installed on my browser to make it easy. I usually get 10-20 SB a day using it (and I don’t do many searches). You definitely can spend a lot of time tracking down codes and watching videos to earn more, but it’s not something I do.

      If you want to rack up the SB, Money Saving Mom has a series called 15 Ways to Earn More Swagbucks.

  7. Kimberlee says:

    You make some very good points here about the convinence of on-line shopping. I love shopping on-line too, and love Swagbucks. I am going to have to try the Amazon Wish-List idea.

  8. Annie says:

    I use both ebates and upromise for cashback. The upromise site is linked to my daughter’s 529, so the percentage I get back gets deposited into her college savings fund. Occasionally there is an ecoupon I can clip that is loaded onto my Rite Aid or CVS card for additional savings when I buy things.

    Last year we got back $69 from upromise. It’s not a lot of money, but since I would have purchase these things anyway, I might as well get some cashback.

  9. Thanks for the tips! I always feel torn over the convenience of online shoppings vs. the impulse to support local merchants. Anyway, it’s great to know about Swagbucks and eBates. I love that you used the Wishlist (yea!) to register for Compassion gifts — what a fabulous idea!

  10. This is so funny – I just wrote a post about internet shopping too, but I use different programs than the ones you highlighted. It’s great that there are so many options out there for saving money!

    I like having more time to think about a purchase & the price too with internet purchases.

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  12. Emily says:

    Ah! I never thought to add the Compassion gifts to my Amazon wishlist. That’s brilliant! Thanks for the idea! Also, did you know that you can shop smile.amazon.com and .5% of your purchase goes to a charity of your choice? (Compassion is one of the supported charities.)

  13. Mackenzie says:

    Kids are under more pressure than ever to succeed in school.
    You wouldn’t want anything within your bag poking you in the back,
    why would you think your dog would. Fortunately, these days baby bags come in manly colors and designs.

  14. Betty says:

    Love the Amazon wish list and that I can mark buying some place else on it. The slochie stocking caps were on 3 different lists. I am making not buying but because of the list I know what colors they want.
    We ship all we can to my stepson and wife the live 1/2 the country away but the do come home for Christmas. I print out picture of what they are getting and wrap that for them to open from under the tree.
    I also do 4 gift bags that I carry on my car with me during the holiday season. They have a stocking hat, a pair of gloves, a $5 McDonalds gift card, an apple, an orange, a can of tuna, a package of mac and cheese, a single serving size vegetable juice usually V8, a couple of granola type bars and a couple of candy bars. I hand these out to the soles I see begging at corners when I am out shopping

  15. Patty Connelly says:

    We sponsor a Compassion child also, although now I have to call her a young woman. Just like my own children, the past 13 years that we have sponsored Erika have flown by. It is a wonderful organization and its nice to hear that you support it.

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