Once upon a time, people like you and me would wake up in the morning and eat a leisurely breakfast. They’d stroll over to work — perhaps a small shop on a town’s main street — earn a bit of money for their cheap rent or mortgage, and then head out early to pick up a nice dress at another quaint little main-street boutique.

Now? Not so much. We’re flying out of our doors with a granola bar at best, already answering emails on our phones, snapping up overpriced coffees at national chains, working long hours, and running out of time to shop for clothes that we can barely afford, anyway. Our homes are more expensive, more of us rent, we work too much, and we’re just plain stressed. That’s just the modern world for you, right?

Well, maybe. But you can find some silver linings. The same modern world that has made us busy and is costing us money has also given us the tools we need to save ourselves a little of that much-needed time and money.

E-commerce, convenience, and savings

The internet has become a way of life for most of us. The average American spends 24 hours per week online, and it’s not hard to see why: from our jobs to our love lives, the internet is instrumental in every aspect of what we do.

That includes shopping. E-commerce has grown exponentially in the internet age. Where once no such business space existed (because, of course, there was no internet years ago), one now does more than $360 billion in business each year — and is growing.

The appeal of e-commerce is obvious: it’s convenient, and it’s affordable. Shopping online means being able to shop anywhere and at any time, so you no longer need to race out of work early and fight for a space in the mall parking lot when all you really want to do is to go home. And studies show that prices online really are cheaper than those in stores, so we’re saving money even as we enjoy a more convenient shopping style.

No need to sacrifice quality

Of course, getting cheap stuff online doesn’t necessarily mean getting the best products. But modern e-commerce options include much more than the giant discount shops. That nice dress that you might have bought in a main street boutique a hundred years ago is still available in a small shop — it’s just that it’s an online boutique. Finding hip and stylish stuff online is easy if you know where to shop and avoid the discount giants in favor of the (still quite reasonably priced) small shops.

Scheduling, subscriptions, and next-level ecommerce

As convenient as online shopping has long been, it only seems to be getting more convenient. Witness, for example, the rise of the subscription box. You once bought coffee in person at the grocery store, but you were able to cut out that errand by buying that same coffee online. Now you don’t even have to do that, at least not more than once: you can purchase a coffee subscription and have your coffee arrive at your door at scheduled intervals, with no further action needed on your part. And it’s not just coffee, of course. You can subscribe to regular purchases through e-commerce sites and specialty subscription companies and cut huge chunks of your requisite shopping from your to-do list forever.

The world may be busier and more expensive than ever, but we also have the modern tools that we need to keep more of our precious time and money to ourselves.