The savviness and insanity of online shopping

Where is the line between “it is smart to be efficient and practical” and “this is a full-blown addiction”?

For the past week, I’ve been making a few purchases every other day at AliExpress. I used to be able to say that I would order a thing or two every month or two months. Order, see it takes “20-30 days”, forget about it, and it’s a pleasant (or not) surprise when it arrives two months later.

It’s as if I treat it like a sport to find which seller is offering the best deal (regardless of their rating), so I can shave tens of cents off an item that isn’t more than $3. Free Shipping is the first filter I apply, then rank by price. It is so validating to find and order from the seller that is giving the best price!

And it’s startling that when I recently learned/reminded myself that I can earn precious Ebates as well, (1) I was remiss to not have checked sooner and (2) it seemed to validate shopping there in my twisted little mind.

Let’s take a walk through memory lane and look at the kind of products I have purchased – a panda dress! – at what frequency and if they turned out to be useful…

111 Jan 2016Fitbit holder clipFashion2.65Y
211 Jan 2016Korean style earring (large back)Fashion0.70N
311 Jan 2016Hermes inspired beltFashion5.93Y
411 Jan 2016Korean style earring ("interesting")Fashion1.71N
511 Jan 2016Wind-up frog water toyKid0.95N
616 Mar 2016Purple seating harnessKid8.92N
716 Mar 2016Car decalKid3.41Y
826 May 2016Spin pins (12pcs)Fashion1.24Y
926 May 2016Cute cord holder (2pcs)Tech0.67Y
1026 May 2016Superhero cord holder (3 pcs)Tech1.79Y
1126 May 2016Outlet cord organizer (2pcs)Tech1.57N
1214 June 2016Ball of foot padFashion0.69N
1314 June 2016Invisible liftsFashion4.55N
1431 July 2016Mermaid tail blanketHouse15.69Y
151 Aug 2016Bike caddySport5.01Y
1630 Aug 2016Cellphone holder at outlet (2pcs)Tech1.01N
1710 Nov 2016Cellphone ring holder/standTech0.99Y
1811 Nov 2016Wall mount cellphone holderTech4.01N
1911 Nov 2016Cellphone standTech4.50Y
2011 Nov 2016Charging cableTech2.05Y
2111 Nov 2016Water drawing setKid3.43Y
2216 Mar 2017Tablet silicone holderTech4.99N
2323 Mar 2017Winnie the Pooh giant cellphone holderTech3.99N
2423 Mar 2017Batman giant cellphone holderTech4.99N
251 Oct 2017Magnetic fake eyelashesBeauty4.09N
269 Jan 2018Chinese jewelry pouches (12pcs)House7.02Y
279 Jan 2018Small plastic pill/jewelry organizerHouse0.31N
2821 Feb 2018Hair turban towelBeauty1.54N
2921 Feb 201812pcs rollersBeauty1.86N
3021 Feb 2018Felt tech accessories pouchTech1.36Y
3121 Feb 2018Doraemon zipper caseKid1.19Y
329 Mar 20182pcs hair tie bangleFashion3.58Y
3319 Apr 2018Jade facial rollerBeauty1.89Y
344 May 2018Panda dressFashion15.89Y

16 out of 34 purchases I deemed not useful in the end. It’s not a great ratio so either I am motivated to be more savvy about my purchases and/or “write it off” and roll in the cost with the purchases that I did use. At the very least, it satisfies the shopping/parcel itch and doesn’t in the grand scheme of things impact my wallet.

But the part of me that feels guilty over not having a minimalist mindset in the least. A cheapy product from China really is a lousy thing to put into the donation bag, but it happens so at least I’m not the one throwing it out … !

Which brings me to yesterday evening’s shopping spree, squeezed in while NPY was giving E a bath – because I just had to.

Over six years ago, I was given a $140 gift card to Lululemon as a parting gift from a contract position. They knew I was an avid runner and thought Lululemon was where I wanted to spend $140 … I did end up buying two items: a strappy tank top with built-in bra I still wear (and wearing, in fact, as I write this) and a super-silly running skort that I don’t wear. It is hopelessly out of style now and also hopelessly too small for me. I had $2.78 left on the card for a long time and finally just spent it yesterday evening when I saw they had free shipping on all orders. Good. Free ship saves me time having visit the store (although there is one in the mall below my work) and hunt for an item not in stock.

At barre class a few months ago, I saw something glistening in someone’s hair. It was the metal part of her ponytail holder and I couldn’t tell the brand but figured I would start with chichi Lululemon and I would be right – see for yourself the Glow On Hair Ties. At first, I thought the price of $14 was for one hair tie and I blanched. But you get get three, so … It was an item I identified as potential to use the rest of my gift card with the least amount I needed to pitch in. Oh, the psychology of gift cards – I still spent $14 on three hair ties. Boy is it a treat and boy are they precious to me! (I better remember not to tie too tightly or they will snap.)

Of course, you have nine choices of colours. Besides my preference for the colour green, I was also sold by the names of the shades: Tonic Sea, Spirit Green and Deep Cove. Ohhhhh….

I was also holding on to a $10 gift card from Chapters with no minimum spend but expiring in a few days, gained when I purchased $40 of goods a few weeks ago (which happened because I added a $6.50 – discounted – bottle of Honest cleaning spray to my $35 of goods). I had already identified through the Sale tab a couple of storybook treasuries that are regular $10-12 but on special offer for 2 for $10. What a splendid deal. So many stories, all for $10.

Classic Stories has abridged versions of Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, Heidi, Oliver Twist, The Secret Garden, Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows and The Wizard of Oz. (I don’t know four of those stories!) Meanwhile, I don’t have a fable compendium so Aesop’s Fables seemed to fill that gap. It doesn’t hurt the covers are gorgeous. Incidentally, both of these treasuries were the ones priced at $12. ;-)


At the special offer, they cost $10 and that was covered by my card and I didn’t have to pay the tax (weird) and since I didn’t make the minimum spend, I am having it shipped to a store half a block away from work. I call that savvy and balanced my Lululemon splurge. (Oh dear me.)

On this day..