Online Shopping Expedition

As much as I love the thought and creativity behind holiday gift-giving, I cannot stand the whole shopping experience. Christmas shopping tops out as one of my biggest headaches of the year. I despise shopping in the winter, with my big bulky coat, hot and frustrated, lugging shopping bags through a crowded mall.

I decided that this Christmas, I was going to try my damndest not to set one foot inside of a physical store. And to do this, I’ve been Christmas shopping ONLINE as much as humanly possible.

Working with My Christmas List, I’ve been searching out gifts, reading product reviews and consumer feedback, finding the best prices and sales without having to commute from one store to another.

All from the comfort of my couch.

It might sound like a lot of work, but I’ve found the whole process about a zillion times less stressful than the gong-show that is the mall.

Tips for Success

  • Start Early. This piece of advice probably isn’t of much use to you now, but online retailers get flooded with orders around the holidays that can delay shipping time. Sites like Amazon will tell you when your purchase should arrive before you click “BUY.” Honestly, I’ve been more than impressed with the expediency of the shipping from some of the bigger retailers.
  • Shipping Address. Don’t you hate coming home to a courier notice on your door: “FedEx was here. Sorry we missed you because you work a day job.” If possible, have your purchases shipped to your office. That way there will always be someone to sign for your item and there’s no need to wait in line at the post-office to pick up your loot.

Tips for staying on budget:

  • Do the Math. Factor in sales tax and SHIPPING before you click “BUY.” International shipping rates and customs can add an outrageous amount to your bill. Sites like Ebay, Amazon, and even Walmart offer fast free shipping!
  • Bidder’s Remorse. For online bidding sites, set your limit and stay within it. There is nothing worse than eBay regret – emotionally bidding because you want to ‘win’ your item. You haven’t won anything. You just overspent on an that electric nostril groomer in your epic bidding battle against username HairyBeast20012. Hope you’re proud (I know I wasn’t).

Safety Tips for Online Shopping:

  • Select merchants carefully. Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. If you have questions about a merchant check with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Pay by Credit Card! Credit Cards have more protection and less liability. If your debit card, cheque or money order is compromised, that’s money out of your bank account that you’ll never get back.
  • Keep a record. Keep a record of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of every e-mail you send or receive from the seller. Review your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
  • Use Common Sense. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Having gone the online route this year, it’s definitely a system I’m going to employ from now on. It’s been a fun, efficient experience and really cut down on the soul-sucking shopping that has, until recently, harshed my holiday spirit.

Here’s to your sanity!

Follow me on Twitter: @kennethpaul615

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Ken  (54 Posts)

Ken is a 30 year old professional, living in Toronto, Ontario. After finishing university with over $25k in student debt and zero financial literacy, Ken decided it was time to take control and start building his financial foundation. Inspired by the no-nonsense approach of Gail Vaz-Oxlade and other Canadian personal financial gurus, Ken was able to finally clear his debts and start focusing on his future.

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9 Responses to “Online Shopping Expedition”

  1. If you are having international shipments sent to the office, make sure it’s clear that it’s being sent to you and not your company. Nothing frustrates a shipping dept like personal shipments ending up on the companies account. For that reason there are many companies where you are not allowed to receive personal shipments at work.

  2. Totally agree! I did 99% of my shopping online and the gifts were all at my door before December 4th. No parking wars, no line ups, and I didn’t have to lug my baby around in the cold while I went store to store. I believe the gifts I bought are useful and their receivers will enjoy them. I had to go to the mall for 3 gifts in total and I was soooo glad that was all I had to venture out for. Yikes! I bought early because for some items, for example, shipping from was cheaper than shipping from the products manufacture site or from (which didn’t have much!). I also took advantage of free shipping deals, like walmart. Why go in to the crazy busy store with an always-full parking lot when I can have them do all the work for me? Deal!

  3. And like anything mistakes happen so be gracious when dealing with customer service reps on the other side of your situation. Case in point…I got home last week to a parcel waiting…I ripped into it and it was someone else’s order with my shipping label on the outside. Thankfully it’s not a gift for anyone but me so we’re in process of returning it and locaing mine so we can all be sorted out. A bit of a hassle but, oh well…at least it’s not a return line on boxing day. :)

  4. good points, ken. a young friend of mine has a new baby and on-line shopping has been terrific for her. she does it while the little guy sleeps. and you are right about international shipping. a product i wanted to buy from England would have cost as much to send as it did to buy, thereby doubling the price.

  5. Amen to that! My guy and I decided in November that we would not set foot in a mall to Christmas shop this year. We’ve done the majority of our shopping online (I’m in love with Amazon) and in the local, independantly owned stores in the small town we live in. It’s actually been a pleasure to shop this Christmas and we’ve found some really special gifts by shopping locally. I haven’t missed the zoo at the malls one bit and I’m on track with my budget because I’m not being swayed by all the sparkle and glitter and too many choices at the mall. …Now if I could just find the easy button for my christmas cards I’d have it made ;)

  6. We normally start holiday shopping around August or September due to the ever growing list of people we need to buy for. We also order things from Amazon that we can have shipped to my husband’s parents in the US, because they are often cheaper than the Canadian Amazon site, so far it’s always been a pleasant experience.

    What wasn’t so pleasant was the 45 minutes I had to spend at the mall this week trying to buy a new phone as a gift. I knew exactly what I wanted but still had to go through a painful process to actually acquire the item. I realized after the experience that I could have purchased the phone online as well, I’ll know better next time!

  7. I love online shopping:) Nearest mall is almost an hour away and I can’t stand them anyway.
    The best part is I can do it from the comforts of my home which has been great since having a baby 6 weeks ago. It’s a hassle going in and out of stores if I have to shop by myself, so much easier when my husband is there to load & unload the carseat from the vehicle:)
    I like websites that allow you to use paypal, safer then giving out your credit card number.

  8. You have inspired me Ken to online shop next year. What a great idea! It would also clear my calendar so I can enjoy family festivities more.

    I don’t know why I am a challenge junkie but I am. So for 2014 I will employ my own online shopping expedition, with the exception of a few tried and true gifts from local merchants we’ve come to love.

    Love your cheeky posts. Happy Holidays

  9. I did 90% of my shopping on line this season. It was great! Not a bunch of wasted time & gas. I stuck to budget and I was able to check reviews on items. I comaprison shopped between websites and I didn’t pay for shipping on anything.

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