Great Tips for Shopping Smarter This Holiday Season

1. Plan Ahead

This year, with the COVID situation, most of us have limited money to spend on gifts for our family and friends. So, before you start shopping, ask for ideas, and then make a list. Then, check prices online and determine what fits within your budget but allows you to get the most out of your money. You may also consider home-made products as gifts; they are often more valued and less costly.

2. Shop Online and Save Gas (and Time) 

Shopping centers are crowded this time of year so try to do most of your shopping online. Factor in shipping costs, so you do not blow your budget. However, most online purchases will save you a lot of money compared to in-store pricing. If you plan ahead, you can significantly reduce your shipping expenses too.  

3. Focus on Cyber Monday and Beyond - Not Black Friday

You will see some crazy deals on Black Friday, but when you factor your gas expense and all the time wasted waiting in lines, you are losing money.  With increased online buying this year, there will be great deals from Cyber Monday extending to at least the first few weeks of December. 

4. Track Price Changes for Expensive Items

If you are shopping online, for example, at Amazon, you can set up a tracker for price checking. Google has just announced a free one that you can use across many websites. You can check out the prices of the items you are shopping for and determine the best time to buy or if you might wait for the price to drop.

5. Use Online Coupons

Clipping coupons is old school. Go online as there are many websites offering savings and cashback too. Rakuten offers the best deals, but there are many others as well. You can search and redeem your online coupons for many gift items. 

6. Avoid Credit Card Debt    

We all know how most Americans overspend for the holidays, most of it by using their credit cards. Make sure that you buy within your established budget. Track your spending and know your limits. 

7. Considering Buying Experiences Besides Regular Presents

Instead of buying material goods, consider buying a day trip or spa treatment for a loved one – if you can afford it. Creating a lasting memory can be worth far more than a “thing” that someone may only use occasionally. 

8. Plan Your Shopping Trips

If you are going “out” to shop, plan your trip to make your route efficient and save time and gas money while doing your shopping. Avoid wandering around aimlessly as much as possible. 

9. Save Money by Using Your Smartphone

You can use your smartphone app to scan barcodes of items in a store and compare prices online. You will find that many items are less expensive online, but either way, you will know if you are getting the best deal.

10. Never Shop on Weekends

Weekends are the worst for shopping because they are the most crowded days. Many people shop on weekends as they work during the week. However, evenings can be far less busy and easier to get in and out of stores. This can save a lot of your shopping time. Long checkout lines are one of the biggest time wasters for many shoppers.

No matter what, try to keep calm and get what you need within the budget you have; after all, the holiday season comes only once a year!

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