4 Ways I Save (and Simplify) with Online Shopping

posted by Andrea | 08/18/2014

online shopping

I’ve never really enjoyed going shopping; however, I also never discovered the amazing world of online shopping until a few years ago. In fact, I never purchased anything online (even from Craigslist) until after we were married!

Over the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve almost entirely switched to online shopping (these are my favorite online shopping sites), and I cannot believe how much it has helped me to simplify my life.

If you’ve never tried online shopping, or if you’ve been nervous or intimidated about buying something online, or even if you’re just not quite sure how it all works, I hope that this post will give you the motivation you need to jump in to the world of online shopping.

If you do it “right”, you should be able to save a bunch of time, energy, stress… and money!

Let me explain…

1. I save time:

Obviously, shopping from my computer is going to save me MASSIVE amounts of time. Not only can I quickly search and browse for what I need without driving to many different locations, I can also shop when it’s convenient for me — which is almost never when normal stores are open.

Also, when I shop online, I can read the reviews and check out similar items on Amazon.com — saving me time returning items that don’t fit my needs. I’ve already changed my mind on many children’s products after reading pages of negative reviews — and Amazon.com is great for comparing similar products without driving all over town.

Most importantly, when I shop online, I save time by always shopping alone… which brings me to my next point 🙂

2. I save energy:

It takes a lot of energy to load up the diaper bag, the stroller, the kids, and then corral them throughout an entire shopping trip.

By the time I drive to the store, unpack the stroller, get kids in the stroller, give kids a snack so they don’t whine about being at the mall, and walk into the mall, I’m just about ready to leave. I realize this is because I don’t particularly enjoy shopping, but shopping via my computer is SO much less work!

Not only is the internet almost never “sold out” of what I want to buy, I don’t have to wait in line to buy it, and I never have to worry about losing a child in the store!

3. I save stress:

In general, shopping is a very stressful and overwhelming activity for me (yes, I realize how ridiculous this probably sounds to many of you, but it’s true!) so being able to “hide” behind my computer screen in the privacy of my home is pretty fabulous.

Once I get into the store with 2 children, I feel like it’s basically impossible for me to have a fully coherent thought process, which makes finding what I came to the store for that much more challenging. Grocery shopping with a detailed list and nothing to try on is bad enough — clothes or home goods shopping is simply out of the question for me if the kids are tagging along… and they are usually tagging along 🙂

Another stress-saver is when it comes to holiday gifts — for myself and for others. I keep an Amazon wish list for myself, stocked with things I’d love to have but don’t necessarily need — and when someone requests gift suggestions, I can either point them to my list or suggest a couple of those items I know they can find at local stores. I can also check other people’s wish lists (if they have them) or start lists for various family members as I think of things throughout the year. This makes holiday shopping SO much less stressful!

4. I save money:

I’ve had a handful of people tell me that they actually spend MORE money when shopping online — but I’m very convinced that I spend less. Although, I suppose if my only option was shopping in-store, I probably would never buy anything, so I would eventually end up spending less.

Anyway, when I shop online, I can compare prices to find the best deal. I can also check out similar items (and, as I mentioned above, read products reviews to know I’m getting a quality item).

Almost all the coupons I get for “in-store” also come with a promo code to use online — AND I use Amazon.com gift cards purchased with Swagbucks to get free products via Amazon.com.

I’ve also gotten a fair amount of ThredUp and Twice referral sales so I can use that credit to buy clothes for me and the kids from the comfort of my own home. In fact, just last week, I purchased some fall items for myself, Nora, and Simon using ThredUp credit and a $20 off coupon they sent me in the mail!

Shameless plug: If you sign up for ThredUp and/or sign up for Twice through my referral link, we BOTH get $10 off our next order 🙂

When it comes to shopping online, the money-saving aspect I love most is that once I have the items I’m thinking of buying in my shopping cart, I can wait 24 hours (or more) before actually buying them, which gives me a chance to think about my purchases before actually submitting my payment.

This might sound trivial, but there are many times when I remove items from my shopping cart before checking out because I know I can get by using something else.

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To date, I’ve used the internet to buy everything from clothing and kitchen supplies to books, furniture, baby products, toiletries, electronics, and even non-perishable food. I’d love to start ordering all my groceries online but I’m currently not aware of any local stores that offer this service (let me know if you do) — some day!

The internet has many benefits for me (my job being one of them!) but online shopping ranks pretty high up there on my list of “ways to simplify my life with technology”.

What about you… are you a fan of online shopping?

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34 comments

  1. Fade

    11/15/2014

    Great tips Andrea. And can I say, “I Earn!” http://cashbackmall.co.uk goes beyond the usual benefits of online shopping because you can earn by referring friends to the site. You can withdraw your earnings to your bank account so you can spend it elsewhere, not just with the site’s merchants. This is the season for shopping, so take advantage of earning.

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  2. Mary Lloyd

    09/02/2014

    Thank you for your post– because of you I was introduced to ThreadUp. Love it!

    Thanks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay — isn’t ThredUp the best! I’ve gotten SO much stuff from them over the past 2 years!

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  3. Betty

    08/20/2014

    Hey!

    I’m French and live in France. Even with no kids i like to order on line and pick up at the drive my groceries! So much time save and i only pick what i really need! I don’t try the delivery maybe it’s silly but i don’t want them to come to my apartment!
    For amazon what a pleasure they let everything in my mailbox! Great idea the wishlist for Christmas! Definitely gonna try for me and my family this way when i got the money i can begin my purchase!

    Thank you 🙂

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  4. Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings

    08/19/2014

    Great post! I find that I spend less shopping online, because I can always check my cart to see the updated total. I hate paying a ton of money for clothes, so even though I may like what I put in the cart, I will weed through everything in there and only purchase one or two {with a coupon code, of course 🙂 }. At the store, I don’t always add up everything in my head, so when I get to the checkout, I’m more likely to just purchase everything rather than waste time putting stuff back.

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  5. Lizanne

    08/18/2014

    I agree with all the above comments…online shopping is great! And thanks for the tip about googling for free shipping! That is certainly one of the main drawbacks, shipping costs, but I try to avoid them whenever possible by doing what others here have mentioned…waiting for a free shipping promo, or when I have a specific dollar amount to qualify for free shipping. That said, if there is something I really, really want, as a gift for someone or myself, I will get it, but most of the time I try to minimize purchasing when there is no option of free shipping.
    Although I live in an urban area with no shortage of shopping opportunities and variety, I don’t like to spend my entire weekend or precious free time combing the racks, shuffling from store to store, comparing prices in person, etc. This is especially true around Christmas time! It really saves my spirit to not have to battle the crowds. Plus, there’s the advantage of comparison shopping, as mentioned.
    I do enjoy going to stores I like once in a while, and I do enjoy looking in small, independent shops when I get the chance. Sometimes, it can be an advantage to see and touch things in person. However, for the majority of purchases my husband and I make, it’s online, from cat food and litter, to electronics, and clothing. That said, it can also be a double-edge sword… the ease and convenience can make it easy to over shop, if you have that tendency. I am definitely guilty of overspending because I sit at a computer at work all day, and when I get bored or stressed or can’t get away to take a break, I zone out with ‘retail therapy’, and that is not a good habit.

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  6. Teresa

    08/18/2014

    We are a HUGE fan of amazon prime at our house–and share it with our family. You can have up to five locations/families on one prime–so we share with our relatives 🙂 We almost never pay shipping–even on our dryer 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — free shipping on a dryer. That’s great!

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  7. Linda

    08/18/2014

    I love online shopping. I grow weary of fighting crowds, traffic and then the store does not have what I am looking for. It is much easier to visit my favorite web sites to find what I need. My husband went to 4 or 5 stores looking for a white kitchen clock for us. What a waste of time. I found one online in minutes, like I wanted and it was here by the end of the week.

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  8. Charissa

    08/18/2014

    I love online shopping too! I order my groceries online from Stop and Shop and pick them up on a day/time of my choosing. I love to sit in my car with my iced tea watching all the weary shoppers leave the store while the Stop and Shop attendant packs my car!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    that sounds amazing! I’d definitely be willing to pay a little extra to have my groceries done for me!

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  9. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    08/18/2014

    I am a fan of on-line shopping for the reasons you mentioned and for the fact that I live in a remote area. I think that you spend more online only when you aren’t careful. I find that the more I am in stores, the more things I buy that I wasn’t planning on. Staying out of stores saves me money. Thanks for the post!

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  10. Erica Martin

    08/18/2014

    I love online shopping – wish I could buy everything online. I have an Amazon Prime membership – I’ve bought a few things using their free two day shipping, and I love it – need to find ways to use it more.

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  11. Julia K

    08/18/2014

    Big online shopper here. Especially love it for groceries. Apart from all the benefits mentioned above, I love hearing that grocery truck pull up and the guy (or girl) pushes the trolley down my verandah and loads the bags directly onto my kitchen bench – woo hoo ! It saves me so much HANDLING of the groceries. Into the trolley – out of the trolley onto the checkout – back into the trolley – into the car – out of the car – then lugging them all into the house – NO THANK YOU.

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  12. Jessica

    08/18/2014

    Walmart to go (if it’s in your area) will deliver groceries.

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    ShellyL Reply:

    Wal-Mart to go? Oh my goodness, that sounds awesome! Makes me want to move to a larger city right away so I can have my groceries delivered to me. Taking three kids shopping is no fun at all! lol

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    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t think we have that program where I live — sounds glorious though!

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  13. Chris

    08/18/2014

    Cardcash.com sells discounted gift cards, even for Walmart and Kroger 🙂

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  14. Janice

    08/18/2014

    Ordering from the Sears Roebuck and the Montgomery Ward catalogs predates my current online shopping experience. When I was a little girl in the 1950s, my mother placed an order every year in August for a lot of my school clothes. It was so exciting to pick out my new socks, underwear with the days of the week embroidered on each pair, undershirts, sweater, and coat for winter warmth. Watching Mom figure shipping weight prices and tax, helped me to learn that there was added cost to all our orders.

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  15. Shambray

    08/18/2014

    I agree with everything. I can totally relate to saving stress. I do not find it ridiculous at all. I am right there with you and I only have one child right now! I can only imagine with 2!!!

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  16. Lindsay

    08/18/2014

    As a single mom who also happens to be hearing impaired/legally blind and thus doesn’t drive…online shopping has saved my sanity! Personally I find that I save ridiculous amounts of money shopping online vs shopping in the store. For some reason I’m not great about using coupons or sales when shopping in person, but online I know how to combine coupons, sales and free shipping like nobody’s business:-)
    Being able to research items is an enormous bonus. Plus, I’m not able to drive to multiple places in search of an item. I can do my research online first, figure out the best price, and go from there. I also live in a very small town so my options are limited at times. Online shopping gives me many options, but that can sometimes be a drawback as the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. That’s when I sit back and think about exactly what I’m looking for, what features are most important and go from there.
    Because of my approach, I oftentimes get everyday items I use around the house for much cheaper than in the local Wal-Mart, or if not cheaper in price, I’m able to get a better quality item that saves me money in the long run. This is important to me as, like most people, I’m working within a smaller budget:-)
    Final reason I love shopping online? My daughter is now 7. Much, much easier to do the birthday/Christmas gift shopping for her at my leisure without her seeing, lol. I can enjoy the process of finding her something meaningful. Because of access online, I’m finding unique things like kid-friendly chemistry sets, specific Lego sets, and lots of great books for great prices:-)
    Friendly warnings: sign up for paypal, keeps your info private; if using a credit card, try to use just one dedicated one to minimize theft if someone were to get your info online; when checking out always make sure it is a reputable site (you should be able to find a way to contact them through phone, email, and address. If phone only is given, do further research) and look for the little lock icon somewhere on the screen-that tells you that you’re in the encrypted/secure payment platform; check their return policies; and always make sure it’s something you need…don’t get caught up in buying something you didn’t need/want-restraint is needed just like in a regular store. Using those guidelines, I’ve had great success shopping online:-)

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    Andrea Reply:

    great tips Lindsay — thanks for sharing!

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  17. Mrs. W

    08/18/2014

    I love shopping online and it definitely saves a ton of time. Last winter, when I needed a new jacket I looked online at all the stores I could think of that would maybe have a coat that I was looking for then after finding ones I liked at a store I don’t normally go to- I went there and found the perfect jacket. Plus, I was able to print off a percentage off coupon to bring with! I didn’t see anything I really liked at the other stores. I can’t imagine having gone to 10-15 stores looking at coats not to find what I was looking for, but it only took maybe an hour looking online to find the store I wanted to shop at. I do that frequently for clothes for myself, because the kiddos aren’t very patient when I have to find clothes for myself. And my husband, I am able to buy all his clothes online. He needs a special tall size and they have great prices on tall clothing at Old Navy.com. I told my husband I wish I could find all my clothes in one place so easily. And I am a big shopper on Amazon where I do most of my Christmas/birthday shopping. I do love shopping in real life, but I usually only save that for groceries or thrift store shopping.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve done similar things where I’ve “browed” online and then went to the store to try it on before I actually made my purchase. Worked like a charm and saved me SOOOO much time!

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  18. Jane

    08/18/2014

    I’m just wondering why Swagbucks has a line through it in #4. Do you still use Swagbucks?

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    Andrea Reply:

    just a mistake — I fixed the link 🙂

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  19. Debbie

    08/18/2014

    I’ve also started shopping online more in the past 3 years. Items for the house like rugs, kitchen gadgets, and some clothes are my purchases. I still don’t quite get all my clothes online because there’s times when I want to try on items that have more of a complicated fit like jeans. There’s also times we need something right away so I just head to Bed Bath & Beyond and buy it there. I do agree that I can save some money doing online shopping especially if it’s free shipping. I detest paying shipping cost that would almost be as much as the item I ordered. It sucks when I have no other choice but to pay for it.

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  20. Bev @ The Make Your Own Zone

    08/18/2014

    I agree with you on your points Andrea and I am shopping more online these days too. One hurdle I always have to get past however is the cost of shipping. Sometimes it almost doubles what the final cost ends up to be. I have to remind myself that if I consider the value of my time that I spend shopping and looking around for that item, and the cost of gas that is used driving around to the stores, then in the long run I guess the cost of shipping is worth it. {But I still have a hard time wanting to pay it 🙂 }

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Bev,
    I actually rarely EVER pay for shipping. Everything I buy on Amazon.com is free shipping because I wait for my order to be more than $35, and everything I buy from ThredUp is free shipping because I always order more than $50.
    You probably shop at different stores than me, but almost every store I shop online with offers free shipping if you spend a certain amount — so I always just wait until I get that amount and then check out. Sometimes things sit in my cart for a couple weeks, but I’ve saved a lot this way.

    However, I also think you are right — often times, the cost of shipping is worth all the time and energy you save by shopping online!

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    Amy Reply:

    I almost never pay for shipping either…I always google “free shipping” for whatever site I am on and 90% of the time come up with a code.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea Amy — thanks for sharing! I often Google coupons too but never thought about “free shipping”. I do almost always get free shipping anyway, but this is a good tip to remember 🙂

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  21. Amanda

    08/18/2014

    Another thing is Amazon’s Subscribe and Save – things I know I need on a regular basis, like diapers and wipes (I also do vitamins, garbage bags, and a few other things). Not only is it cheaper than the store to start, but then I get an additional discount, and usually Amazon has a “clippable” coupon every other month.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the subscribe and save helps a lot!

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  22. shelly

    08/18/2014

    Hi Andrea,
    This is a little off topic but I was wondering what kind of items you put on your christmas lists. Our family makes lists too but It’s hard for me to come up with non clutter type items besides giftcards. Some members of the family aren’t thrilled to see a wish list that only includes gift cards but when you really don’t need or want STUFF, making a list becomes a chore. Any thoughts?

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