10 Ways To Save Money On Holiday Shopping

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Holiday shopping has become as much of a tradition of the season as candy canes, Santa Claus and eggnog. While there's no need to give up stuffing your stocking and filling your tree, stop overspending, find great deals and avoid common shopping traps by following these simple tips to save money on holiday shopping.

One of the easiest ways to run into financial issues during the holiday season is buying too much, for too much. Review the following holiday shopping tips to learn when and where to make purchases without breaking the bank.

1.Cash Over Credit: To immediately eliminate the risk of overspending, do not use credit cards while Christmas shopping. Before you begin shopping, withdraw the exact amount of cash you can afford to spend from your bank or an ATM. By using cash, you will not only be restricted to your set spending limit, but carrying it in your wallet will provide a running visual reminder of how much money you have left to spend throughout the day.

2.Plan Ahead: Plan which stores you want to visit, and for what, ahead of time. Not only will you be less likely to make impulse purchases, but you can also scan the store's website and online coupon retailers for specific deals on the items you want, or general discounts for the stores you will visit.

3.Schedule Your Shopping: While most holiday shoppers have heard of black Friday, they may not have experienced it for themselves. Though the crowds on the day after Thanksgiving may be a bit overwhelming, so are the price drops on nearly everything. If you can handle long lines and bustle, shopping on black Friday can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

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4.Smart Shopping Habits: Aside from preplanned purchases, make your largest buys toward the end of the day. Spur of the moment decisions on costly items may alter your sense of what is and isn't affordable for the rest of the day. Smaller items with great deals will encourage smarter shopping throughout your trip.

5.Avoid The Sales Pitch: Many department and retail stores stock up on as many sales clerks as products for the holiday season. Save both your time and your money by avoiding or politely excusing yourself from product demonstrations and samples. You're more likely to purchase something you don't want, or at least wouldn't have wanted, if you spend time speaking to a store employee about it.

6.Save Your Receipts: Always keep your receipts. If you make a gift purchase early in December, the item may go on sale closer to Christmas. Most stores accept returns for unused/unworn items with a receipt, allowing you to return the item, or receive the discounted price. Beware, items purchased while already on sale are rarely if ever returnable.

7.Use Store Loyalty Rewards: If you belong to rewards programs at certain retail or department stores, make as many purchases as possible at these stores to increase your savings. If you can truly get a better deal elsewhere, then do so, however most stores offer increased discounts and/or rewards points for members that greatly increase their products' value.

8.Credit Card Rewards: If you do decide to use a credit card for your holiday shopping, consider these membership rewards options as well. Some credit cards offer cash back programs on certain purchases and purchases from specific stores, or rewards points for every dollar spend. You may be able to receive a certain percentage of your holiday budget back, or rack up some extra air miles to cover your trip home for Christmas.

9.Online Shopping: With the number of online shoppers increasing by the millions each year, it's no wonder this holiday shopping option continues to gain notoriety as the best way to save money. Utilizing shopping websites, coupon retailers or even brand name websites themselves can often save you 5% to 75% on the cost of your purchases. You will need to keep in mind the added cost for shipping, and the wait time between ordering and receiving your purchases. Remember, avoid wasting store clerks' time by asking them a multitude of questions about in-store items you already plan to purchase online. While they are helpful, they're also trying to make a living. Do your research online to save time and money, not to mention gas.

10.Order Food Online: You may not think of the internet as a great place to grocery shop, but many items on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa menu shopping list may be much more affordable from internet retailers. Wine, liquor, candy and even meats can often be found at discounted prices from specialty vendors.

Last Updated: November 1, 2011
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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