I probably made my first purchase via the internet in about 1994. I’m sure the purchase for a few dollars worth of baseball cards. In the fifteen years since then, I have bought a multitude of things on the internet. Some things just seems to be best purchased over the internet – I’ve given some examples below.

Filters – Our furnace has a SpaceGard (now AprilAire) air cleaner. Most of the time, this is OK. When it comes time to change the filter, this can be a royal pain. The good thing is that these filters only need to be replaced every sixth months – much less frequently than a normal furnace filter.

The bad news is that changing the filter is a somewhat complicated process. Due to the setup of the utility closet, it is necessary to first remove bi-fold doors from the track in order to access the filter. Note: this design decision was NOT my brilliant idea. Then the actual filter unfolds like an accordion. Little plastic “combs” are supposed to keep the filter’s pleats properly space. Except that the combs no longer snap firmly into the filter assembly.

These filters are hard to find in retail stores. I finally thought to look on the internet. Not only were they cheaper, but they were available in a little box unit that just slides right into the assembly – no combs needed! I still need to take the doors off the tracks and put them back on, but no more messing around with the combs. That’s a win.

I’ve also found good deals on humidifier filters online. They’re the same item you see in the retail stores, but lower priced and delivered right to your door. Sweet.

Computer accessories – If you need to buy a computer cable or flash memory (such as the memory card for your camera), think twice before buying them in a retail store. You’ll pay a lot less buying them online – often a small fraction of the cost. Often, you’re buying the exact same product. And when it comes to cables, don’t let a salesperson bully you into thinking only a certain brand of cable will work. Unless you have a funky device that requires a special adapter, any brand of cable will work just fine. A gigabit Ethernet cable is going to provide the exact same top speed, regardless of brand, and a USB 2 cable is going to comply to version 2 of the USB standards (hence the moniker USB 2) regardless of manufacturer.  Standards are just that – standards.

Books and CD – I have been known to go absolutely crazy on Half.com. I once bought a dozen William X. Kienzle paperbacks for $20, shipped! Not only is that a better price than retail used book stores but Kienzle is a hard author to find, so I save a lot of effort tracking them down over the internet. I also buy CDs on Half.com, particularly when I become a fan of an artist who already has several items out.

If you have the patience to wait a month or so, you’ll see hot new hard covers books for just a few bucks on Half.

Out of market sports merchandise – I live 800 miles away from the Denver home of my beloved Colorado Rockies. That means that I can’t just pop into a retail store to pick up a Rockies shirt of jacket. Buying through the official Rockies store can be pricey. This is where eBay comes in handy. Last year, I bought a Starter brand winter coat, in great condition, for a total cost (price + shipping) of about $30. The coat appears to be nearly new. How much does the coat cost new? $100.

In 2008, the Rockies gave away replica National League trophies to celebrate their run to the 2007 World Series.  I couldn’t be in attendance on the date of the giveaway, of course – but I did end up with a trophy.  A friend from Purple Row sold me one for a very fair price.