Holiday Shopping and Saving Guide
As the October wind shakes away the last of the leaves on the trees, we’re reminded that it’s almost that time of year again. Ah, the holiday season: a time of peace, love, joy… and crowded shopping plazas brimming with shoppers seeking that perfect last minute gift. As the influx of party invitations starts to sprinkle your calendar more plentifully than nutmeg on eggnog, you realize that between your family, friends, and the Secret Santa gift exchange your office party still hasn’t banned, you have some shopping to do. No need to worry about getting caught up in a holiday spending frenzy though. Read on for our five tips on how to save on shopping this holiday season.
Tip #1: Set a Budget, Make a List and Check it Twice
Start early. Planning ahead of time and logging your expenses can save time and money. Make a list of all the people you’re buying a gift for and jot down some gift ideas next to their name, along with a realistic amount of how much you can afford to spend on their present. Add everything up, and if the total is too high, see where you can make appropriate adjustments. Hopefully, your favorite uncle won’t have to be bumped off your list this year again. (He’s still a bit miffed about the re-gifted fruitcake you presented to him in 2008.)
Tip #2: Shop Online for Savings
If the thought of camping out in a Wal-Mart parking lot at 1:00 a.m. on Black Friday makes you want to curl up in the fetal position, Cyber Monday might be just the thing for you. (If not, check out Blackfriday.org before your big day.) On the Monday following Black Friday, Cybermonday.com features extra discounts and hourly specials for online shoppers. If you miss Monday, the site offers discounts all year long—they’re just not as steep as Monday’s sales. You can also save money by shopping online at stores like eBay or Amazon, where you can also glance at customers’ reviews as well. Don’t forget about discount codes. For price comparison research, check out sites such as, Pricegrabber.com.
Tip #3: Clip (or Print) Coupons
Tip #4: Avoid Signing Up for Retail Credit Cards
Sure, that extra 10% discount sounds great when you’re at the cash register with armful of sweaters, but retail credit cards usually come with high interest rates that negate your original discount. You could end up paying three times more than what you originally intended to spend. Plus, signing up for the card requires a hard inquiry into your credit report, which might make a ding on your credit score. So unless you shop at the store consistently enough to truly make the discount advantageous, politely tell the store clerk, “No, thank you.”
Tip #5: Keep it Simple
According to the National Retail Federation holiday survey, the average American spends close to $700 on holiday items. To avoid spending this much, get creative with simpler things. Homemade sugar cookies or gingerbread in a pretty tin or jar make a sweet but budget-friendly gift. Fill some jars with Christmas ornaments, pinecones, or candy to decorate your home. If you have young children, turn on some holiday music and make some fun crafts with them. Chances are these memories will last longer than the latest trendy toys anyways. Thank you for reading today’s tips. As always, we hope this advice helps free up more of your time so that you can spend it on the people and activities that matter most, especially during the holidays.