Here we go again, rushing around trying to please everyone while we burn up lots of energy and money on things we don't need or we could buy for ourselves. Each year, I ask my family, "What is the point of this?" The response, accompanied by the "evil eye" and a tight lip is, "But it's the holidays, let's just buy a little something." End of story...there will be no more discussion on this topic, now pass the cranberry sauce. Bah Humbug, my present plea is ignored once again in 2008.
I am no Scrooge, I do realize it is fun for the kids, and there is always that special something that you have to buy for that special someone. My only salvation is that I can do it all from my computer. So, as I fulfill the list of future gifts that fit the must shop so I don't show up empty handed category, I share with you these tips I have learned from seasons past.
1. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. This will save you money while it saves your sanity. Knowing for whom and what you are shopping will keep you on budget. Bonus: less time spent surfing the web for ideas.
2. Try to use one credit card that has an online account for all of your online shopping. You can check it throughout the month to track your spending, while keeping an eye out for any purchases that might be fraudulent.
3. If you get an email touting a great offer, don't click through to shop. Instead, go to the store website directly. If you don't see the offer, call or email the company/store and ask. There are scammers that send out emails that look exactly like the legitimate websites, but they only collect your credit card information. All you will receive is a big headache. This extra step is worth avoiding any potential problems.
4. When you first arrive at a website, check out the "special offers." Write down the codes for percentage discounts or free shipping. Having these codes handy makes checking out faster and easier.
5. If you are using American Express to shop online and are enrolled in the Membership Rewards Program, definitely visit their Bonus Points Mall. Dozens of companies participate in the Membership Rewards program and when you shop through the Mall, you can accumulate double and sometimes, triple points for the same purchases you would be making without using this offer. If you are spending money, you might as well benefit from being a loyal customer.
6. Have a specific store in mind? Take a peak at Coupon Cabin. You will find offer codes for all sorts of savings at various stores. In the past, I have successfully used Coupon Cabin's offer codes for free shipping, percentage discounts, and free samples.
7. If one-stop shopping is your goal, don't forget about Amazon. More than likely, you can get everything on your list there. It is easy to set up an account, returns are a cinch, and most orders over $25- qualify for free shipping. Bonus: Coupon Cabin has additional savings offers for Amazon.com merchandise. Double Bonus: Stop by the Bargain Books basement (there really isn't a basement, heck, there really isn't even an actual "store," but somehow I think it should be called this) for incredible savings. Go ahead, treat yourself!
8. Do you need a gift that isn't too personal and can't bring yourself to mail the usual chocolate truffles? Pop on over to Dale and Thomas Popcorn. Everyone loves this stuff. There are lots of different flavors, all of which are tasty (I confess, I have tried them all), and the company does a great job of presentation. Once you order from them you will go back for more, I promise or my name isn't Orville Redenbacher...hey...wait a minute! Bonus: join the PopClub and get points for savings on future orders.
9. Start a folder of the printed confirmation emails. Write directly on the printout, note what the gift is and for whom you bought it. This will help later on when packages start arriving with several items in a box; and if a return is necessary or the item doesn't arrive, you will know who is missing a gift so you can replace it right away.
10. Visit Here We Are...again soon. We will be reviewing several potential "gift" items that are budget friendly, useful, and easy to order online for this season or next. Do you have a tip to share with our readers about cyber shopping? Please tell us about it in our comments section...thank you.