The holiday shopping season is here. For me the holidays are my biggest shopping season of the year, and every single penny counts. So what’s my secret to saving during the holidays? Here are my three steps to saving big this holiday season…
#1. Make a List and Check it Twice
OK – I’ll admit it. This first step isn’t really a secret but I’m telling you, making a list of everyone you need to shop for will help you out in the long run. Not only will this help you determine your holiday budget, but it will keep you on track with your holiday spending. Plus once you do it one year, trust me when I say having last year’s list on hand will make gift planning oh-so easier.
You should keep track of the following…
TIP: Use Google Docs: For my holiday list I create a spreadsheet in Google Docs, that way I can access it everywhere, plus I can share it with my better half.
I also always add an extra three gifts to my budget for any unexpected gifts I receive. My gift of choice is picking up a couple of bottles of nice wine. If I don’t give them out over the holidays, I can always serve them when I have guests over.
#2. Shop Online
Once you’ve got your list set, split it out between what can be purchased online vs. offline. I shop online as much as I can. Why? Simple. It saves me time, and money. Online with the click of a mouse I can easily compare prices without spending money on transportation (or spending time).
Plus as a rule, I never pay full price. How do I do it? By following these five rules…
RULE #1: NEVER PAY FOR SHIPPING….
I never ever, ever, pay for shipping unless I absolutely can’t avoid it (i.e. if it’s something extra special that I can’t buy in-store). If I have to pay for shipping, I’ll shop in-store instead.
RULE #2: SEARCH FOR COUPON CODES…
Before I make a purchase, I always google the site name + “coupon codes”. Sometimes there are 25% off coupon codes floating out there just waiting to be used! If there isn’t any special offers out there at the time, sign up for their newsletter – they might just email one to you.
RULE #3: BUY GIFT CARDS ONLINE
Check out sites where you can buy gift cards at a discount like CardSwap.ca where you can save up to 35% off (plus they offer free shipping!).
RULE #4: USE GROUP BUYING SITES – BUT BE THOUGHTFUL
Now although this may sound a tad bit tacky but giving someone a thoughtful group buying “experience” is fine in my books. Get your parents a romantic dinner for two, or get yoga passes for you and your friends and plan to all go together once a week for a month, or treat your super stressed out friend to a spa day. A friend of mine once got me a series of photography classes because he knew I wanted to learn more about photography. As long as you’re thoughtful – they won’t care that you bought it at a discount.
RULE #5: USE BARGAIN HUNTING SITES
Even if you’re not a bargain hunter during the rest of the year, being a gawker on bargain sites is a great way to check out the best deals out there. Plus they are a great spot for hunting for in-store coupons, and coupon codes. My pick? RedFlagDeals.com where you can view deals by category.
#3. Take Advantage of Special Offers
…and I’m NOT talking about offers in store, I’m talking about credit card special offers.
For example..I always seem to spend the majority of my holiday shopping on electronics. Let’s say this year, I need to buy a Playstation 3, some video games, and a digital camera. Instead of putting this spending on my regular credit card (which would give me 1% back worth of rewards), I could instead get a Sony MasterCard and get 2% back in rewards plus 2,000 bonus points for signing up. With just the sign up bonus alone I can pay for one of the video games under my tree.
PLUS – Sony has a a contest going on right now where you can win a trip for two to Las Vegas. Applying for the card gets you 75 entries!! Check it out >
As long as you’ve budgeted beforehand, use a payment method that gives you the best instant savings. My top picks?
- Sony MasterCard – it has no annual fee and you get 2% back in rewards on anything you buy at the sony store + 1% on everything else. Plus like I said right now, they have an awesome contest going on where you can WIN a trip to Las Vegas.
- MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard credit card – no annual fee, and up to 5% cash back rewards on gas and groceries (for the first six months), and 1% on all other purchases. It also has a great balance transfer rate of 1.99%.
- Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite – although this card does have an annual fee of $99 you get 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on reoccurring payments and drug store purchases, and 1% back on everything else. If you are looking for a card to put everything on and cash is your reward of choice…this card is a great pick.
These are my three holiday shopping secrets…what are yours?