It’s not too soon to begin planning on how to save money on your holiday shopping. True, we haven’t yet passed out the Halloween candy nor put that turkey in the oven. But the sooner you begin, the happier you will be when the big day arrives. In fact, according to a Harris/OpenX poll, 30% of US consumers are already doing their holiday shopping.
This fact is not lost on retailers. They are have been gearing up with strategies on how to take your money. You need strategies on how to keep your money.
Here are 6 awesome tips to help you save money on your holiday shopping.
#1 Planning. The first thing to do to save money on your holiday shopping is to write out a plan.
It should include at least these elements:
- Who is on your gift list?
- Gift ideas for everyone on your list.
- The cost of each item. Do your research now to get the best estimate of what your gifts will cost.
- A realistic budget that you will honor.
Start now to monitor sales on the items on your list.
#2. Sign up for emails from your favorite online retailers. Be sure to follow them on social media sites.
Retailers often send special announcements on limited deals to their followers. These deals apply across their sites, in-store and online, so you don’t want to miss out.
#3. Timing is Everything
Black Friday and CyberMonday may be peak times to find certain deals, but you should start looking around now. And even though many retailers are closing their stores for Thanksgiving this year, the web is always open! You may find some very good bargains for some of the items on your list. Basically, you want to be alert beginning now until the holiday season is over. And, if you have money left over after the holidays it’s a great time to snag some gifts for next year.
#4. Shopping Apps
Yes, we are shopping on our mobile devices. A survey released by BestBlackFriday.com found that 40 percent of consumers prefer to shop on their mobile devices. Fortunately, there are some great shopping apps that will help you save money on your holiday shopping.
Apps can help you make your shopping list—which is critical to saving money! And equally importantly, shopping apps will alert you to coupons, cash-back offers, and special sales and help you with comparison shopping.
The big box stores offer their own shopping apps to lure you to their online retail stores of course. Amazon has a special app to help maximize your savings with them.
RetailMeNot is one app you do not want to live without. The app guides you to the best online and in-store coupons.
ShopSavvy is great for comparing prices. Apps like ShopSavvy help when you are preparing your budget as well as during your shopping. All you have to do is scan the barcode of the product you want, and the app will tell you if you can find the same product at a better price elsewhere.
SlickDeal is the app you want to use to get the best out of Black Friday sales. It also scans for coupons and there is an online community where you can get tips and share experiences.
#5. Avoid Holiday Debt
Nothing is worse than coming out of the holiday season to a pile of credit card debt that you cannot afford. Unless you are sure you will be able to pay off whatever you charged for your holiday gifts, leave the credit cards at home.
However, if you are going to use your credit cards, be sure to only use cash-back cards. If you don’t have a cash-back credit card already, then look for one that will give you 2% on everything you purchase. Others give higher percentages, such as 5% but on a limited selection of purchases. No-fee credit cards are the best.
Don’t be Lured into Signing up for More Credit Cards
The holiday shopping season is a favorite time for retailers to entice you to sign up for credit cards. They will offer you special deals and savings at checkout in exchange for signing up for the credit card. But these cards typically carry high APRs and fees. Another potential trap is the 0% interest card they might offer. This is only a good deal if you pay off the balance within the specified time period.
#6. Consider Alternatives to Gifts
Another excellent way to save money on your holiday shopping is to be more creative with your gifts. Services, trades, or home-made items are really appreciated. If you have a large extended family, consider drawing names. This way everyone only needs to purchase one gift, and everyone saves money. If you have a special artistic talent you can create your gifts. The uniqueness of a gift such as this is priceless.
Bottom line: Start planning now. Start saving now. Set your budget. Utilize all the tools out there and minimize your credit card charges.