Easy Ways to Save Money While Holiday Shopping

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shutterstock_161204999Holiday shopping season is upon us, and for many (most?) of us, that means lots of spending.

Fortunately, there are many ways to save money on holiday shopping, and they don’t have to be painful. Use the following strategies to stretch your dollars as far as they can go:

Make a list. Write down all the people you have to give gifts to, including family, friends, coworkers, your children’s teachers, and so on.

Make a budget. Determine how much you want to spend on each gift. Then add it all up and determine whether you can afford that total number. If not, go back through your list and determine whether there is anyone you can leave off, or reduce the amount that you spend on each gift.

Use your list and budget to come up with a list of specific gifts. You don’t have to have an exact item in mind (though it helps), but at least come up with a general category. For example, you might jot down “sweater” or “kitchen gadget” for Aunt Gertrude and “iPod Touch 5th Generation, pink 16GB” for your tween daughter.

Always go through a cash back site when shopping online. Almost every store offers cash back through a site like Ebates or Upromise. You can find out which site is offering the highest cash back percentage at Evreward, though it doesn’t list every cash back site. Even Amazon offers cash back in select categories, which change regularly.

Always search for coupons or coupon codes. Sites like RetailMeNot list coupon codes for shopping online, and it takes only a minute or two to find a code that can save you 20% or give you free shipping. But many brick and mortar stores have coupons online as well, and oftentimes you can just show your smartphone to the cashier to receive the discount without printing out a coupon. It never hurts to look, and can save you lots of money!

Purchase discounted gift cards. Sites like CardCash sell gift cards at less than face value. So you can save money by buying gift cards for stores you plan to shop at. You could even use the gift cards as gifts.

Use a credit card that generates rewards to pay for purchases. If you’re going to use a credit card to pay for your purchases, you might as well use a credit card that gives you something back, whether it’s in the form of cash back, points, or some other reward. (But be sure to pay off your balance so you don’t end up paying interest that negates your rewards!)

Use the internet to find the lowest prices and sales. Sites like PriceGrabber will tell you the lowest current price online, while other sites like GottaDeal.com will post Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads weeks ahead of time. You can also follow blogs like Chief Family Officer for time-sensitive deals at sites like Amazon and brick and mortar stores like Target.

Happy shopping!

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Cathy is the founder of Chief Family Officer, where you can get daily updates on the hottest deals, and tips to achieve financial freedom and family bliss.