Money & Career

9 Things You Should Always Buy Online

Leaving your house to go shopping is overrated.

Depending on what you’re buying and where you’re shopping, it often makes more sense to purchase a product online rather than in store because, let’s face it, you can save money and time — especially if there’s free shipping.

According to personal finance expert Jessica Moorhouse, there are often added incentives for buying products online. Many shoppers get travel rewards from shopping on certain sites, and companies like Ebates even offers cashback rewards when you shop at select stores.

“Usually stores offer better prices online since they have a lot of products they want to get out of their inventory,” says Moorhouse, adding that it’s important to do your research before an in-store purchase to make sure you’re not paying too much.

Here are nine products that you should consider buying online rather than in person:

Gift cards

Once you discover that you can buy gift cards at great discounts online, buying them full price at a store will seem like an archaic idea. Gift Card Granny, for example, offers users up to 50 percent off gift cards for select restaurants, stores and services. Card Swap, another online gift card retailer, allows users to collect points, which they can redeem toward purchasing more cards or cash out through PayPal. If your go-to gift for friends, family or coworkers is gift cards, you’ll save big-time by buying them online. 

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It’s well known that books are usually substantially cheaper online. This has a lot to do with the higher cost of running brick-and-mortar stores, which tend to drive up prices. Whether you’re reading for school or pleasure, do your research and buy your books off the web for the best price.


Whether it’s a new computer, phone, or television, you can often find better discounts and promotions online compared to in store. Just make sure you’re buying the item from a trustworthy supplier, and do your research by reading user reviews and product details.

Baby Products

From diapers to pacifiers to onesies, most baby items are easily accessible online — and can often be found at a cheaper price. And with e-commerce sites like Amazon offering cheap or free delivery, the time-saving is an added bonus.

“If you’re a new mom, you don’t want to spend your time going to the store if you could just get [baby items] shipped to your home,” says Moorhouse. “If you’ll have more time to spend with your baby or go to sleep, then it’s absolutely worth it.”


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While buying furniture online once seemed like a very risky proposition, it has become less risky and more accessible in recent years with stores like Wayfair and Costco offering affordable delivery and returns if the product isn’t what you expected.

“When we’re talking about a big piece of furniture like a $300 bookcase and they offer free shipping, that’s pretty significant,” says Moorhouse, who purchased a lot of her new furniture from Wayfair and was pleasantly surprised with their quick and easy shipment process.

Makeup and toiletries

We all have our favourite makeup and toiletry products that we replenish time and time again, but if you’re buying them from your local drugstore, you’re probably paying too much. Start replenishing your stash with cheaper subscription plans or by ordering your go-to products online while taking advantage of web-exclusive sales and promotions.

Contact lenses and glasses

It may seem like the convenient choice to buy your glasses and contacts directly from your eye doctor, but they’re almost always overpriced. Moorhouse says she only buys her reading glasses online from Clearly, an affordable eyewear and contact brand. For those who prefer to try on frames in person, Moorhouse recommends visiting the store to try on the glasses and then buying them online or waiting for a sale for extra savings.

“Whenever I’m at the eye doctor and they tell me to look through their glasses selection, I just think about how insane those prices are,” she says. “I can get them for $150 at Clearly or $500 from them. No, thank you.”

Office Supplies

If you’re heading back to school or you need some basic office supplies, save your time and money by buying them from sites like Amazon or Walmart. Both websites have a huge selection of products and offer free or inexpensive shipping depending on how much you purchase. More benefits from buying online versus in-store include being able to instantly compare prices with other brands to ensure you’re getting the best deal and having a saved order history to revisit the next time you need to replenish supplies.

Non-perishable food items

While ordering fresh produce through grocery delivery services can feel like a risk, you can’t really go wrong with buying non-perishables at the same or lower price, often with free delivery. When you’re saving time and money, it’s worth stocking up on basics like cereal, coffee, and canned goods from places like

This post is part of Spend It Better, a personal finance collaboration between Chatelaine and MoneySense about how to get the most for your money. You can find out more right here.