Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Holiday Shopping Tips

Holiday shopping is tough on everyone's wallet, so I'm here to help. Below I'm going to write a series of tips that I go by, so that I spend as little money as possible during the holidays, I believe I only spent $150 last year (if that).

1. Compare prices, don't buy the first thing you see, you'll probably end up paying more for it, if you are dead set on getting that item, just write it onto a list and compare prices online and at other stores.

2. If you find that an item is much cheaper at another store, but they're out of stock, many stores now price match, just bring in a flyer or some kind of "evidence" (even if it's not required) of the lower priced item and the store will honor it.

Stores that price match:

3. If you shop online to avoid the hassle and stress of shopping in-store, keep in mind tip 1, compare prices and even shipping costs. Most stores offer free shipping when you spend over a certain amount, it's usually worth it to spend the extra few dollars to reach that free shipping point.
  1. If you are shopping online and KNOW for sure what site you'll be buying from, take a few minutes and look for discount codes that you can use at checkout (I recommend Retailmenot). You never know what you'll find, whether a 20% off code, a free gift with purchase, or a free shipping code, it adds up.
  2. Also if shopping online use Ebates and get cash back from the purchase you make and then receive a check at the end of the quarter. Ebates is simple to use, if you're a first time user sign up, choose your bonus (a $10 gift card or $5 cash) that will be sent to you when you have spent $25 at any of the 1200 participating stores.
    • To get cash back use the Ebates search engine, type in the store you're looking for, click the orange Shop Now button, and you will automatically be redirected to the store of your choice where you will continue with your shopping, checkout, and that's it. Ebates will track your order number and you'll get cash back from your purchase added to your account in a few days or when it ships.
NOTE: Keep your E-Receipt incase they don't credit your account, you can file a claim, just by pasting your receipt into their claim form

4. Black Friday is over rated (unless that's your yearly tradition), just remember there is always Cyber Monday, where you don't have to wait in lines, deal with angry people, stand out in the cold, or even get dressed. Totally up to you though. Oh and you can use Ebates to get cash back and not have to waste gas trying to get to a store and find a parking space.

5. If you don't like buying tangible gifts for people and buy gift cards instead, shop around for better deals. I believe Chili's and Applebees give an extra $10 gift card during the holidays if you buy $100 in giftcards.

6. If you are flat out broke (not judging, I am this year and last year, lol):
  1.  Use the samples, great deals, and prizes you get throughout the year and make gift bags/baskets/boxes for people. An easy way to make a gift box is to take a shoe box, wrap the top and the bottom separately in holiday paper, stuff it with tissue paper, and add what you want.
  2. Get inexpensive pictures taken (Note: Sears Portrait Studios are no longer in business) or take your own and have them blown up, buy inexpensive frames (best bet is Walmart or Kmart), and give them out, this is most often the easiest route.
  3. Make Crafts
  4. Bake cookies, breads, fudge and just put them in gift baggies to give out.

And my BIGGEST tip of all...Shop all year round! I shop after Christmas (and other holidays) when everything is 75% off or more and if I see something on super clearance, at any point, I grab it and put it in my closet for an eventual gift. I also buy wrapping paper when it's 90% off in January.

Below is a picture of my gift stash, in each of those diaper boxes are categories of items: baby, kids, gifts especially for my daughter, etc.

O and one more tip, which might make some of you say O-M-G she is cheap...If you receive a present in a holiday bag, keep the bag, put it away, and "re-gift" it. It will save you money on wrapping paper and bags, and hey it's recycling.

Goodluck this year! ~Lindsey (aka VT Freebie Girl)

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