The holidays are right around the corner — so it’s that time of year to start saying thanks as well as time to pull out our wallets.
Between the craze of gift shopping, celebrating, holiday discounts, and unexpected surprises, the months of November and December (and yes, even October) can do a real number on your wallet.
To keep your account merry, bright, and out of the red, try these 15 easy ways to save money during the holidays this year.
1.) Make a list. If your family is like mine, then it’s big and the holidays ask you to shop more than you’re used to — and this kind of shopping can easily get out of hand. Not only do I have a big family, but I also have a lot of people to whom I want to give gifts.
Maybe you know what this is like: You're at the store, you don't have a list, you start buying gifts, and before you know it you've got several gifts for one person, no gifts for others, and presents for all sorts of people who normally wouldn't be on your list.
Now, you've bought too much and stretched your budget thin.
To stick to a healthy budget, shop with cash.
To help yourself avoid the confusion of holiday shopping, try creating a list of all the people you want to shop for. Take that list to the mall with you or look at it as you shop online — and check off everyone as you get them gifts. This simple organization tip has helped me stay on top of my shopping and not go overboard.
2.) Stick to cash. During the holidays it's easy to get caught up in overspending, and credit cards make it all too easy to go over the spending limits. Since most stores make the majority of their annual income from holiday shoppers — they work hard to lure you into credit card spending. Sadly, this can lead us to rack up debt and pay for the holidays long after they're over. To help yourself stick to a healthy budget, try shopping mostly with cash.
3.) Comparison shop. Every year I amazed by how much I can save by doing a little comparison shopping. If I am at a store and I see a product I like, I scan with the Amazon smartphone application. Along with using the Amazon scanner, I also like using sites like PriceGrabber to help me compare prices.
4.) Price match. After you've done your comparison shopping, ask the store you're at if they'll price match or even sell the item for less to win your business. I've been amazed by many stores who will take an extra 10 percent off their competition (thus taking off the sales tax for me).
5.) Abandon your cart. According to a lot of research, companies that don't retarget buyers who've abandoned website carts lose a lot of money every year. In order to keep the customers who left their carts, companies run ads to potential buyers who left their carts and offer them a discount to win their dollars. I can't tell you how many times this little trick has saved me 20, 30, even 40 percent on a sale.
6.) Buy with confidence.Use Slice Drops to monitor your online purchases and receive alerts if prices drop. You may get a refund for the difference. Yapta and Tingo do the same thing for airfare and hotel purchases.
7.) Save on gift cards.Use a site like Cardpool or Gift Card Granny to buy discounted gift cards as presents or to do your own shopping.
8.) Use customer support. Found an item you like and can't find it cheaper? Try contacting the chat support on the website and tell them you really like a certain item. Let them know you're thinking about buying it — but you're not sure. Wait and see if they offer a discount. If they don't, just ask them if they have any coupons or discounts available for such an item. In malls it's commonplace that a store clerk will have an easy-to-scan coupon that applies to most items — in the online world, this is also true.
9.) Try regifting. Most of us have received gifts we didn't really want. Someone gives you a sweater that doesn't fit, a painting that doesn't fit in your home ... We may not want to admit it to the person who gave us the gift, but the truth is this gift might be better with someone else. By regifting, your presents go further and go to people who will actually enjoy the item.
10.) Agree on gift caps with friends and family. Although I have a big family, we've all agreed that each of us won't spend over a certain amount on each other. This little agreement has helped me feel more at ease when shopping. Prior to making this agreement, all of us ran into the awkward experience of being given a big present — but feeling guilty because we kept our spending down. Now, it's a lot easier because I know what the budget is, and I'm able to shop worry-free.
11.) Organize a 'Secret Santa' gift exchange. Instead of buying gifts for all of your friends or family, try putting on a Secret Santa gift exchange. This little party allows you to celebrate, enjoy good company, and saves you from having to worry about getting gifts for everyone in the group.
12.) Deal shop with deal-saving apps. Have you ever seen that show about super couponers? It's wild to see what good deals people can get when they shop with coupons. I'm not suggesting you go all out like they do, but at least give sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Ebates a shot.
13.) Shop the day after Black Friday. According to Kyle James, the founder of Rather-be-shopping.com, it's common for people to shop on Black Friday — then resell those items for a small markup for a small profit and to sell the items quickly. Give websites like eBay a look the day after Black Friday (and save yourself the long lines).
14.) Buy one, get one free.Check this list forretailersthat offer free gift cards with purchase. This way when you buy something, you can get rewarded with extra goods or money.
15.) Clear your cookies. When you browse online, websites like to put little pieces of data onto your computer that allow them to know more about you. These are called cookies. These little pieces of data give websites all over the internet information about you — and that information can be used to adjust prices based on your shopping patterns.
By deleting the cookies, you'll be visiting websites, and they won't be able to adjust their costs based on your browsing history. When I am shopping for airline tickets, I do this quite often. Sometimes I also like to use one computer to browse and then when I'm ready to buy I use another computer with no cookies. This way I get the best prices — it's literally saved me thousands of dollars on flights.
Luis Congdon helps entrepreneurs live their dreams. He travels the world most of the year but on occasion can be spotted in his earthen home on San Juan Island.
Last Modified: October 23, 2017, 8:38 pm