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Some of you will say that I’m crazy, but I love winter. I love the crisp air. I love how the snow and ice crunch as I walk on it. I even
like the occasional snowball fight. And on top of that, Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas is my favorite holiday
for of a number of reasons. So much is tied to it—a celebration of Jesus’ birth, of course—but also celebrations related to weather (Ski trip anyone?), school breaks, office parties, special foods, (big) family gatherings… Along with all the other festivities there’s gift giving. That means shopping. Add Christmas shopping to everything else and things can get hectic.
I don’t do hectic well.
I’ve said, “I love winter.” But … With so much to do in such a short time, I haven’t always loved Christmastime. In fact, because of the hustle and bustle involved in getting ready for “THE BIG DAY,” the holiday season used to be an aggravation. I hated waiting in long lines as other people paid for their Christmas gifts, food, and all the little extras. True on not, the number of people ahead of me gave me the feeling that the stuff I was purchasing had been picked over—stuff no one else wanted.
Then, several years ago, I made a discovery.
I can do all of my Christmas shopping online. In fact, I can do most of my Christmas shopping at amazon.com. If you have been following this blog very long, you know I’m a frugal guy. I really want to use my money and time efficiently. With amazon I’m able to do that.
There are a fair number of people on my Christmas shopping list—family and friends. But truthfully, the ones I really want to please are my grandchildren. All of my grandchildren are young girls, so for them I look for dolls, dresses, jewelry—girly stuff. Things I’m don’t shop for on a regular basis.
So what does this have to do with being frugal?
Glad you asked.
I’ll answer that in just a minute.
Before I started shopping online
I’d do some research to figure out what I wanted to give my granddaughters. The girls’ parents are a great source for suggestion, and there are online sites that list the most popular gifts of the year, etc. Of course the girls themselves usually have a list. (The girls love! love! love! to talk about their wish lists.) So … that part is pretty easy. And note: This research is necessary and can be loads of fun no matter how you plan to shop.
The part I didn’t like came after I decided what I wanted to give. I would have to drive to the stores, usually after work, hoping the item I wanted would be in stock. At the store (and these would be stores I wasn’t really familiar with), it seemed I’d always have to navigate my way through a crowd, and then stand in a long line at checkout—if they had what I wanted at a price I felt was reasonable. (And if they didn’t have it, or I didn’t make the purchase because the price was exorbitant, I considered it a wasted trip—not an exercise in frugality.)
It’s probably just me, but I always left with the feeling, I gotten leftovers. The icing on the cake (sarcasm) was an interminable drive home in stop and go traffic. I’d get home late, probably miss supper, and need to be thinking about getting ready for the next day. Although I’d (hopefully) accomplished something I wanted to do, I missed my usual evening routines and would be going to bed still wound up.
Most of you are already familiar with the feeling, so even though I could continue on this rant, I won’t.
Now let me tell you how good it can be
Christmas shopping is no longer the dreaded event it once was. Shopping online has proven to be a good fit with my drive to be frugal. Done correctly, you save both money (I’ll get to that part) and time. I’m happy with the way I now do my Christmas shopping.
Frugal note: Just as in stores, online prices often drop after the holidays—or earlier.
If I have a good idea for a Christmas (or even a birthday) gift, I can begin next year’s shopping while enjoying the current year’s festivities. And I don’t have to battle crowds or leave home to do it.
A more likely scenario is that I’ll use the luxury of time to gather information and do price comparisons as I look for appropriate gifts for everyone —all by surfing the net.
From your laptop or notebook you can shop from almost anywhere in the world. When you shop online you can save money, because you can easily check prices from multiple sites.
I’ve mentioned www.amazon.com as a site I like to use for online shopping. Amazon and similar sites offer a variety of products, often with a competing price range from multiple vendors. When I find something I’d like to give at a price I’m willing to pay, I can buy it and have it shipped to my home or directly to the recipient.
The one drawback to shopping online might be the shipping and handling fees, but there are ways to minimize those: Sometimes free shipping and handling are offered, or orders can often be combined. Also, Amazon offers (at a price) “Prime”—a shipping service that rescinds the handling and shipping charges on qualified items. That can be a plus for customers who make a lot of purchases.
If you have an hour to shop, you may be able to get to town and hit a couple of stores. If you dedicate an hour to shopping online,
you can check a lot of websites and easily do price comparisons. Online vendors know this, so you can usually find good prices. Online shopping saves both time and money. Eliminating the need to travel also saves fuel (fuel=money). In addition, the convenience of 24/7 shopping, not fighting a crowd or dealing with overworked employees ought to count for something. So, yes… I would say online Christmas shopping is a frugal undertaking.
How sweet it is! (Jackie Gleason)
Being frugal means efficiently managing your assets. In this case, it’s time and money. When you shop online you can save both. By doing my Christmas shopping online, I no longer spend the season running around, hoping to find something acceptable and freaking out over the mechanics of making it so. I can use my computer to gather all pertinent information, make my purchases, and even arrange delivery. Since I no longer have to engage in Christmas shopping hysteria, any outings I make during the Christmas season are for pleasure and add to the enjoyment of winter.