It’s no secret that you can buy pretty much anything online these days.
But while you’ve learned to turn to Amazon for books and check eBay instead of heading to the flea market to spend your antiques allowance, there are a few things you’re still stubbornly picking up at your local drugstore.
Join the 21st century, save money and find out what you aren’t buying online but should be.
What: Car tires
Why Buy Online: It seems counterintuitive, but there’s no reason to spend all day in a smelly tire shop to get new wheels. National stores like Discount Tire or Tire Rack actually have websites where you can enter the make/model of your vehicle (and a few other details) and get a huge list of all the tires available in your area. This system lets you compare warranties, view ratings and prices, read reviews and — most importantly — take time to consider your options, far away from the icy stare of the mechanic at the checkout counter who wants to go home for the day. Simply choose and pay for your tires, then book an appointment to have them installed whenever it’s convenient for you.
Why Buy Online: You’ve finally set aside the time to go through several gigabytes of digital snapshots, and now you want something to hang on the wall. Instead of driving to the local photo place with your CDs in tow, why not upload your pics from home, edit and crop them ’til your heart’s content, then cruise by to pick them up on your way to dinner? Most people don’t realize that discount stores actually have super printers that spit out some of the best-quality photos around, giving you proof-positive that the baby looks more like your side of the family without forcing you to shell out for premium prints.
Why Buy Online: You may be used to stopping by the drugstore to restock your supply of mascara, but online beauty product retailers keep you from paying convenience store prices for your war paint. Since you already know what brands and shades you like, there’s no need to try them on — and this way you can get free shipping your purchases, as well as tons of free samples. Big online retailers also have the flexibility to let you return products if they turn out to be the wrong shade (even if they’re used).
What: Gift cards
Why Buy Online: It’s easy enough to pick up a gift card for your niece’s birthday, but ordering online makes the most practical present in the world (a.k.a., free money) more personal by letting you customize the design on your card, or even upload your own images to display. Plus, you don’t always have to pay full value. Sites like Offers.com use gift card coupons and deals to get you extra discounts (i.e., you pay $65 for a $75 card) and send the cards directly to your recipients, in case you can’t make it in time.
Why Buy Online: In case you haven’t heard, online retailers like Zappos and Road Runner Sports have revolutionized the footwear business by all but opening a shoe store in your bedroom. With free shipping both ways (some of the fastest shipping we’ve seen anywhere, incidentally) and a 60-day guarantee that lets you wear your pairs for up to 2 months and still send them back if you want to, it’s better than a brick-and-mortar shoe store any day.
Stop wasting money, and start saving by shopping online for these 5 items.