Holiday shopping can be a nightmare, and there’s nothing to take the fun out of the festive season than racing around a packed mall looking for that last-minute gift.
Shopping for holiday gifts can also be very expensive, and you don’t want to go into January with debt because you spent too much on presents.
Thankfully, in this article, you’ll find a selection of tips and tricks to make your holiday shopping experience a pleasant, happy one.
From shopping online to price matching and using coupons or rewards, we have a variety of ways that you can save money without skimping on great items this holiday.
1. Plan Ahead
To ensure your holiday shopping doesn’t land you in debt, you’ll want to plan for it ahead of time. Ensure that you list the gifts you want to buy and add these to your budget. That way, you won’t be tempted by impulse buys.
You can even call ahead to the stores to see if they have the items you want to buy, so you don’t have to drive around looking for what you want.
Save up for a holiday shopping fund throughout the year
Start putting a small amount of money aside every month for a holiday shopping fund. When the end of the year comes around, you will have created yourself a nice little cushion for buying gifts.
Even just $5 or $10 a week can add up, and you’ll hardly notice the difference in your monthly income.
When you create your holiday savings account, opt for a high-interest savings account where you can grow your money; that way, you’ll have even more when it comes to shopping for your holiday purchases at the end of the year.
Pool your resources
You can buy more expensive items for those you love by pooling your resources with other friends and family members. Team up with your brother or sister to buy gifts for your parents, or consider buying a joint gift with other parents for your kid’s favorite teacher.
Pooling your resources is a great way to save money while still giving gifts people will love.
Use a holiday shopping list
Be organized and strict with yourself when creating a holiday shopping list. You don’t need to buy gifts for everyone you know.
Instead, write down who you want to buy for and what kind of gift you plan to get so that when you start shopping, you have a plan to work towards.
Do your research online before you buy
Make sure you do your research online before you make any final purchases. Check out reviews to see if what you’re buying is worth the price, and have a look at comparison sites to know where you can get the items you want for the lowest price.
You can also research other models or designs of similar items; sometimes older models, different colors, or non-brand products can yield lower prices.
Check the memberships you have
Store memberships and even cellphone contracts or bank accounts offer rewards to loyal customers. Look at all the memberships you have to see what discounts you can take advantage of over the holiday season.
Memberships to online retailers, like Amazon Prime, also offer free and fast shipping, which can come in handy over the festive period. You can even consider just signing up for a free trial membership to see you through the holiday season.
Factor in shipping
If you’re shopping for gifts online, remember to factor in shipping to the cost of any items before you commit, or better yet, try and get free shipping. Faster shipping can cost extra, so be sure to think about the time it will take to get your gifts when you buy online.
Organize and group your trip
You can save time and gas by planning your shopping trips. Map out the stores you want to visit and group them all into one trip rather than heading out to different shops each day.
2. Follow Retailers on Social Media
Many retailers offer exclusive deals to their social media followers. To keep updated with the latest discounts or find helpful promo codes, don’t forget to follow your favorite retailers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Create an email address just for retailers
You can sign up to store emailers to get insider information and great deals on certain items.
However, these regular emails can become quite overwhelming and can start clogging up your inbox, so you may want to create a separate email address just for this purpose.
4. Shop Online
You can save time, gas, and a lot of headaches by doing your holiday shopping online.
There is no point in fighting the holiday crowds if you don’t have to, and now that you can buy everything from groceries to wine, tech gadgets, clothing, and home gear online, there’s almost no reason for having to go into a brick and mortar store.
Make the most of shopping apps
Numerous shopping apps can help you save money over the festive season. Some apps will help you compare prices, while others may provide coupons or rewards, while more provide cashback on whatever purchases you make.
Using all the technology available will help you save money this festive season.
Skip the shipping costs
As mentioned, shipping costs can add quite a bit of money to your holiday purchases. Skip the shipping costs by looking for promo codes or opt for an in-store pick-up where you don’t have to pay shipping fees.
Make sure that you shop well enough in advance to receive your gifts in time so that you don’t have to pay extra for overnight shipping.
5. Verify Online that Every Deal is the Best
There are so many deals online that it can be tricky to know if the price you are getting is the best. Thankfully, you can use several price comparison tools to help you verify that the deal you are getting is the best.
Use online price comparison tools
Price comparison tools can help you determine where to find specific items at the best prices.
For instance, the Amazon Price Checker app allows you to scan barcodes of items in physical stores to see if you can get them cheaper online.
Shopping apps like ShopSavvy or RedLaser also offer a similar service to scan barcodes to find the best deals at various stores.
Track price changes for expensive items
Various trackers, such as CamelCamelCamel or The Tracktor, can help you track the prices of specific items you want to buy online.
These trackers will look at past prices of items to determine if it’s an excellent time to make your purchase or if you should hang in there and wait for the cost to come down.
Set price alerts for specific products
Browser extensions like CamelCamelCamel will alert you when items you’re looking at are available at a lower price.
If you have specific gifts in mind, consider setting these price alerts for a while, and then you can buy the items at the best price without having to check each day manually.
6. Do Price Matching
Many stores offer price matching where they will match, or even better, the prices that you find at other stores. This can save you money and time as you don’t have to bounce between stores looking for the best-priced item.
If you plan to price match, be sure to check store policies ahead of time and proof, such as flyers or emailers, where you can show the prices you found elsewhere.
7. Find Alternatives
You may be able to find products that are similar to the ones you wanted at a lower price. Although, as mentioned, it’s always a wise idea to go shopping with a list in mind, you still need to be open to finding alternatives.
Perhaps the thing you wanted isn’t available, or you see it in a different color or style. Always have a plan B for the items on your list.
8. Never Shop on Weekends
Weekends are usually the busiest shopping days, so you’ll likely find fewer deals on these days, and the stores will be more crowded, making it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
9. Shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
When you shop the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can find some great gifts at incredible prices. With most of these deals happening just a month or so before Christmas, there is no better time to shop for those end-of-year presents.
Tackle Black Friday like a pro
The trick to scoring the best deals on Black Friday is to shop the sales early. This doesn’t mean getting up at 3 am to head to the shop but instead setting your alarm to start shopping just after midnight online.
This way, you’ll get deals before the stores run out, and you won’t even have to change out of your pajamas.
Don’t forget Cyber Monday discounts
Black Friday can be chaotic, with long lines and lots of crowds. Instead of heading to the mall on Black Friday, consider taking advantage of online sales on Cyber Monday, where you can make your purchases from the comfort of your home.
10. Don’t Buy More than You Need
Those buy three, get one free offers may seem like a great deal, but you could just end up buying more than you need. Also, try not to feel pressured into buying expensive gifts for everyone.
Something homemade, a DIY gift, or an experience instead of a physical product can be more meaningful and cheaper.
Don’t buy an extended warranty
Extended warranties can be expensive, and the chance that you will use them is pretty slim. Instead, look to see if buying the item on your credit card will double the warranty period. Either way, the standard manufacturer’s warranty is probably more than enough cover.
11. Look for Good Deals
One of the best ways to save money over the holidays is to be patient and look where you can find good deals. Sign up for newsletters, reward programs, and social media accounts so that you can be the first to know when a new deal is announced.
Ask for a discount
You can find some great discounts around the festive season, with many retailers offering between 10 and 50% on everything from makeup to wine, shoes, board games, furniture, and everything in between.
If the retailer you’re looking at doesn’t have discounts running, don’t be afraid to ask, they may offer incentives for new customers, if you spend over a certain amount, or if you can prove you’re a student or pensioner.
Use online coupons
Clipping and printing coupons can be a hassle but using them online makes it more accessible. There are various websites and apps to find coupons to use online.
You can also download apps, like the Flipp app, to browse weekly flyers from your local stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Dollar General, to find physical coupons.
There are also cashback apps and websites where you can get cashback when you link your purchases to your favorite online retailers, while other apps and websites will help you stay organized and provide valuable functions for arranging and searching through your various coupons.
Don’t buy just because it’s a “great deal”
Finding fantastic deals is a great way to save on your holiday spending but be careful of buying something just because the deal seems too good to miss. Sometimes less is more, and try not to get suckered into the trap of buying something just because it’s cheap.
Utilize free gift wrapping
There’s no point in spending half of your gift buying budget on expensive wrapping paper and bags that are just going to end up in the bin. Over the holiday season, many retailers and even some malls offer free gift wrapping services that you can take advantage of.
You may have to wait a little longer to take advantage of this service, but you’ll save plenty of time and money in the long run.
12. Shop with Cash Only
Shopping with cash is a sure-fire way to ensure that you stick to your budget. Leave the cards at home the next time you head to the mall and only take the maximum amount of cash you want to spend; that way, there is no way you can possibly go over your budget.
13. Credit Cards Might Be Good Also
While shopping with cash can help you stick to your budget, credit cards can be helpful in that they offer rewards, points, and discounts that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Avoid credit card debt and advances
Regardless of whether or not it’s the holiday season, you should try and avoid any credit card debt. At the same time, convenient credit cards rack up expensive interest charges, which can add a lot of money to the price of the item you want to buy.
Instead, shop within your budget with the money that you have.
Use your lowest interest options for holiday credit
Department store credit cards typically have very high-interest rates. If you have to buy on credit around the holiday season, instead look for the cards with the lowest interest rates, so you don’t end up spending more than you bargained for.
Use reward points
Some credit cards offer rewards when you shop at certain stores. You might even be able to use these rewards to buy gift cards for people.
In addition, specific apps like Shopkick will reward you with discounts when you visit certain stores, providing more rewards when you make purchases. You can then use these reward points to shop for even more gifts.
Use a combo of rewards apps and credit cards to try reward stacking
Reward and coupon stacking happens when you combine credit card or store rewards with store coupons or manufacturer coupons to double or triple the discounts you get.
This is a great way to save money, but some stores don’t allow reward stacking, so be sure to check the store policy before you try this method of saving money.
14. Don’t Hesitate to Buy the Same Gift Twice
Suppose you see a gift that you purchased last year that was a great hit; you can always buy it for someone else this time around.
Alternatively, if you find a gift that you know a few people would enjoy, don’t hesitate to buy it for more than one person. You may even be lucky and be able to get a buy one get one free discount.
15. Shop Alone
You’re less likely to be influenced to make impulse buys when you shop alone, and you won’t feel as pressured to stick to your budget.
Also, if you can avoid it, try not to bring your kids along on your holiday shopping spree, as you’ll probably end up buying extra gifts for them you never planned to get.
When you shop with a friend or family member, you might also find yourself spending more money on lunches and coffees that you wouldn’t usually indulge in if you shop by yourself.
16. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag
Some stores charge you for shopping bags, and while this amount may seem small, every little bit adds up over time. Skip these extra charges by simply taking your own bags the next time you head out.
You’re also less likely to damage any goods as the plastic and paper bags provided by the shops do tend to break. And you’ll be doing your part for the environment at the same time.
17. Avoid Crowds
Shopping in the crowds can be frustrating, but it can be expensive too as you’re more likely just to buy something, anything really, so you can get out and go home.
Avoid the crowds by shopping online or super early or very late. Many stores over extended opening hours over the festive season so that you can even shop after dinner.
18. Know When to Eschew the Express Line
Express lanes may seem quicker as each person only has a few items, but they can be longer than your regular check-out lines.
Try not to get stressed out and be rushed during your holiday shopping but instead relax and use the time in the queue to plan your next purchase.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
There’s no better time than the present to start planning your holiday shopping. If you start planning, saving, and even shopping for Christmas the entire year-round, you’ll take a lot of the stress out of your holiday experience.
Shopping early will also give you enough time to look for the best deals, take advantage of price matching, coupons and sales, and provide you with time to rack up plenty of rewards. Never mind the money you’ll save on express shipping charges.
Do you have some more tips and tricks on how to save big on your holiday gifts? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.