Okay. We shop a lot online. I hate shopping online (it always feels like it takes hours!), but in most cases, products are cheaper and of better quality from the U.S. Plus, U.S. stores are familiar. We know what we are getting.
I don't remember how we stumbled upon Upromise, but I'm glad we did. It pays you to shop. Seriously. Well, actually it adds money to a college fund which is still pretty cool. If you shop through the Upromise site (its directory includes almost every shopping site known to mankind) you get a percentage of your purchase price (1%-25%) added to a college fund, plus you get deals and coupons just for Upromise users. You can invite your family (who aren't planning on going to college) to join you in your savings. If they shop through the site, it will add to your fund! For those of you stateside, you also can get a percentage of your bill from local restaurants and grocery stores added to your savings. Score! It doesn't cost you an extra penny!
For those of us lucky enough to have APO/DPO addresses, one frustration with shopping online is whether or not stores ship to APO/DPO. I have started a black list of the stores who don't (grrr), but left it in Serbia (I'm on R&R in the U.S. at the moment) and promise to share it with you when I return. I did some googling and found this site which includes a discussion and list of APO friendly online stores. I find it easier, though, to know the stores that don't send, since the list is shorter.
For those of you who don't have APO/DPO address, I found MyUS.com, a service where you can "buy" a U.S. address and they will re-ship it to you. This service seems to be the most cost effective. You pay an initial set-up fee and a monthly or annual fee based on your needs (from $0/month/year to $25/month or $195/year) plus a percentage of the order (minimum $10). If you have used this service or others like it, please let us know about your experience!
So, the one consolation for the hours of frustration it takes to shop online is that you're at least saving for you or your kids' college education. It's almost like being paid to shop. Who can beat that?
Spouses, share with us your online shopping advice!
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