I’m all about shopping — from my couch
Ask anyone in my family what my middle name is, and they will not tell you “Marie,” they will answer with a resounding “cheap!” That is not to say that I buy poorly made products — no, I will search for the best products at rock-bottom prices to save a hard-earned dime. Over the years, I have narrowed it down to some of the best sites to help me find meaningful gifts at seriously hard-to-believe steals. For Christmas last year, I maybe spent an hour in an actual store for last-minute stocking stuffers and extras, and for a mother of three who does the bulk — ok ALL — of the holiday shopping, spare time is not something that I have a lot of. The rest of my shopping was done from my couch, over my lunch break or waiting for my name to be called at an appointment, using apps that make it even easier to shop. Yes, I use Amazon to pick items from my husband’s wish list, but it’s the other, lesser-known places where I have scored the best deals. So, if you’re interested in penny pinching without forfeiting the personal touch that makes giving at the holidays so special, settle into your seat and clear that Christmas list with a few of my favorites. Please note that while I do most of my shopping from my phone, each outlet also has desktop sites for those who don’t use a smartphone.
I think this is my favorite site. It’s easy to find just about anything or set the app to find your likes for you. I have mine set to specific locations, so I am alerted whenever we’re traveling somewhere and a special deal is available. We were able to stay at Wildwood, New Jersey, last May for four nights, for less than $300, in a very nice hotel that was about 30 feet from the boardwalk. I scored two tickets to the Civil War Museum for my father-in-law last Christmas for half the cost of general admission and had a wooden spoon beautifully engraved for less than $10 for someone special who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. From vacations and spas, to concerts (scored tickets to Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas through Groupon last July), electronics and clothing, Groupon covers everything and is easy to use.
In fact, it’s a little too easy to shop. After spending a very early morning with my 3-month-old daughter last year, we fell asleep on the couch together — unfortunately, my thumb didn’t go with me and continued to click away at the “Buy!” button. When I woke up, I found that I had ordered a few things that weren’t on the shopping list. Luckily, I was able to cancel the purchases before they were processed with their speedy shipping.
What I like about Zulily is the quality of the products. I’m not going to lie — things can be expensive on Zulily, but it depends on what you’re shopping for. I have found some great deals on TOMS brand shoes, with sales at more than half off the typical prices. I love that the app allows the shopper to set alerts when new “Events” are available. For example, if I am looking for Under Armour for my son, Nike for my daughter and Noodle & Boo for my 1-year-old, Zulily will send me a message when an event featuring these products has started. Items sell out quickly on Zulily, but, fortunately, the site will recognize when I’ve stored a sold-out item in my shopping cart and will let me know when the product, or something similar, is available again. I have gotten swimsuits, unique baby items, pet products and Star Wars gadgets from Zulily, just to name a few.
Another great feature is the shipping policy! Let’s say you place an order, but find something later in the day — shipping is free for 24 hours after the initial purchase!
I discovered Jet while searching for a wall-mounted desk a few months ago. Even though the prices are comparable to Amazon, the secret to Jet is “Prices Drop as You Shop.” Let’s say I bought the desk, but added a car seat, a case of diapers, toothpaste, lip gloss that isn’t sold locally, ingredients for a dessert I wanted to try and lunch boxes for my older children (yes, I did purchase these random items). Each time I added something to the cart, my savings went up, and I could watch the prices go down. Many of the items are offered in bulk packaging, like toilet paper, granola bars and deodorants, so it’s like shopping at Sam’s Club without the hassle of actually shopping — unless you’re into loading up three kids for a few hours of fighting over what to buy.
The best part? Jet offers two-day delivery without a yearly cost, free returns and free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
Start your shopping early on Wish because shipping can take a month or longer since most products are exported internationally, but if you’re a planner and you know what you’re looking for, looking here first is a must. You simply won’t find better deals. My daughter was in search of a Fitbit last year, but I wasn’t willing to let her spend the $100 for the real deal — or spend my own money on one. We found a $99 comparable device for just $11 that has done the job just fine.
Discounts are indicated in the corner of the product photo, often highlighting 90 percent and even 95 percent off. Categories include Baby & Kids, Fashion, Gadgets, Tops, Accessories, Home Decor and Makeup and Beauty. I could get lost for hours finding things I or my kids have always wanted but didn’t want to spend the money on, as well as things I never knew existed.