With Christmas right around the corner, shopping season is here!  While buying local should be a priority, the reality for me is that shopping online for a few things can be helpful since there are many times I work late and I don't have time during the day to get it done.  Not only that, but I can often save even more money online and a good friend of mine delivers for UPS, so I get to keep him busy.

There are general things you can do online to save money, such as checking the "On Sale" section of the website you are visiting and by taking advantage of the free shipping promotions that almost every site has at one time or another.  However, I want to focus on Amzon.com, where I do the vast majority of my online shopping.

What I like about Amazon.com is that I can just search for something specific like "wooden doll house" and see several brands and options, or I can do a general search like "toys for toddler girls" and get all kinds of ideas. If you don't know what to get someone, a general search can create several ideas.

If you shop at Amazon.com, follow these tips to knock a few items off your list that you may not find locally, and probably save money in the process:

  1. If you are looking to buy clothes, do a general search like "men's fleece jacket".  You'll see many brands and options, but look for quality name brands like Mountain Hardware or Columbia.  Once you select the size needed, click between the colors that are available in that size and you may find one color at a big savings over others.  I once bought myself a top name brand rain jacket and paid $54 less because I chose a dark green color over black or navy blue.  Score!
  2. Amazon.com has Black Friday deals already going, as well as a Deal Of The Day section, so take advantage of them.  I check the deals several times a week because they also help put ideas in my head. For example, I once saw a Deal Of The Day featuring pruning shears at 67% off.  I never thought of shears as part of a gift before I saw that, but we have someone in our family whose passion is their yard.  Once I saw that deal, I knew it would be a perfect gift when partnered with a gift card from a local gardening center.  Thanks for the idea Amazon.com!
  3. Since time is money, filter your search to those items rated four stars and up.  Why waste your time and risk getting something sitting at a 3 star review, especially if reviewed by hundreds of people.  Also, read a handful of both the good and bad product reviews. I like to see what people like and don't like about an item.  I also look at reviews as they can give clues as to whether clothing fits true to size or if anyone has received a knockoff brand and not what was advertised.  A little research can save you time and money.
  4. Finally, while it may be too late this year, shop for things when you don't need them.  Amazon.com may add more deals around the holidays, but they can be found year round.  Buy a few Christmas presents during the summer or whenever you see a great deal.  Then, when the holidays come around, you can hit the Northland stores with a shorter list and less stress.

If you're wondering if you should become an Amazon Prime member, I would recommend it if you plan on purchasing several times over the year and if you wait until the last minute like me.  Prime will get you free 2 day shipping on most items, and you also get access to movies and music with your membership.

Have a great holiday season!