From the title, you can see that I will be sharing another tip or two over the next couple of weeks on how I simplify the holidays. This first tip is in regards to shopping. Once upon a time—many, many years ago—I kind of enjoyed the shopping part of Christmas. That was probably when all my children were under five and I could buy a toy for a dollar that would make them giddy with joy. That’s a phase in life that passes all too quickly.
I now have nine adults and eleven children in my brood, and that’s just immediate family. If I bought one gift for each, that would be 20 gifts. I’ve long passed the stage of life where I enjoy shopping. I’d rather go to the dentist than to go shopping and battle the crowds, stand in lines, and deal with traffic. Needless to say, I am a prime candidate for online shopping. I first stumbled upon this luxury of having gifts delivered to my door without the aforesaid crowds, lines and traffic, when I could not find a specific gift locally. But once I realized how simple it was, I was an easy convert. And as for shipping costs, I consider it a bargain in light of the cost of gas these days. Of course there will always be some gifts that are easier and less expensive to purchase at a brick and mortar store, but I always look first for the online alternative.
In addition to the hassle avoided by shopping online, I have also discovered a way to reward myself by getting a little rebate on most of my online purchases: Ebates. Ebates is a program that simply requires you to first go to their site to choose the store where you are going to shop before purchasing. Let me show you how simple it is.
First of all, you have to set up an account. You can do that at this link: Ebates.
Below is a screen shot of the home screen when you first log in. Note that if you already know the store you want to shop, you can enter the name (see red arrow) and see if they partner with Ebates (more than likely, they do).
If you are not set on a particular store, you can search by category. Let’s say you are looking for a computer or some computer software or accessory. On the left side of page, you’ll see a list of categories, one of which is Computers (see red arrow). When you click on Computers, a sub-list is displayed of some of the Computer stores and the current rebate each is offering (in the red circle). At the top of the sub-list is the option to see all the computer stores.
Click on the store where you want to shop, and you will immediately see a page like the one below before being taken to your store of choice. Like the message says, there’s nothing more you have to do. You shop as usual, check out as usual and go about your business. There’s no need to return to the Ebates site to confirm checkout, etc. It’s all taken care of.
Ebates sends out rebate checks every three months (provided your check is worth $5.01 or more; if not, they hold it till you have earned that amount and send it to you the next quarter). Checks for purchases made through Ebates during the holiday season will be mailed on February 15.
The hardest part about taking advantage of Ebates is just remembering to use it! But if you remember, you will enjoy the “big fat checks” that you receive—usually an unexpected surprise—throughout the year. My last check was for $60-something. Not bad, huh?
I have found the most lucrative purchases for me have been magazines. So if you are planning on giving any gift subscriptions for Christmas, then by all means, do it via Ebates, and go out to eat with the rebate check you will receive in February.
Do you have any tips for simplifying holiday shopping? I am all ears! Leave a comment, please.