Buy Smarter: I Am the Weekend-Web-Shopping Warrior!

I don’t play around when it comes to holiday shopping. I’ve been using the web for loading up on gifts, wrapping paper, cards, etc., for over 10 years and I can tell you that it only gets better. And thank goodness for that because with a schedule like mine and the welcome presence of my darling 2-year-old who does not like being dragged from sweater-display to sweater-display, I am forced to do 90% of my holiday shopping online. So this past weekend, with the hubby traveling, I took every hour she had her eyes closed to web-shop—on a budget!

It was fitting that Mission Impossible II and III were playing on a non-stop loop on late-night TBS, though I was on a mission-possible, armed with (spending) parameters outlined on two Excel spreadsheets. All I needed to complete my mission were three things I always highly recommend for every shopper:

· One piece of low-interest plastic (that will be promptly paid off in full) to help keep track of holiday expenses as well as limit my exposure to hackers – fraud on one card is easier to contain than two or more.

· Coupon and promotional-code sites such as and

· My shopping-only email account (at every site I shop at, I only use this email address as a contact)

I’d go from site to site—sometimes three tabs open and running at a time—and just before I’d go to checkout, I’d check my ‘shopping’ email account for sale codes as well as the promo-code sites to see what I could get off at the virtual register. I saved an average of 20% off almost every store ‘visit’ and got lots of free shipping, especially with some vendors who give you transport gratis if you pay with your PayPal account.

Shazaam. Mrs. Claus-Wong Ulrich is nearly done and though my computer and credit card were smoking from all that action, our family bank account is well prepared and none the worse for wear.