Holiday wish lists, travel plans, tipping your community workers… tis the season of dwindling piggy banks. As you get ready to ramp up your holiday spending, be sure you are shopping smart: your wallet will thank you come January. Below are some tips on becoming the savviest shopper possible this holiday season.
Create a holiday budget. That’s right. Savvy shopping starts at home with a carefully-planned budget to make sure you don’t overspend over the holiday. Hopefully, you’ve even been contributing a portion of your paycheck to a designated holiday fund so you don’t feel the burn come November and December. (If you haven’t, consider starting one for next year: put a small percentage of your paycheck into a designated holiday savings account every paycheck; make it automatic with direct deposit or transfer from another account so you never miss a contribution.) Set a limit on how much you can spend for the season, and then allocate accordingly for your holiday meals, travel plans, gifts, etc. Once you’ve set the amount, make a promise to adhere to it.
Research your purchases before you buy. Once you’ve determined how much you can spend, it’s time to start researching the items online to look for the best possible deals. Some sites to put on your radar:
- The best deals of the day are voted on by the site’s community of users and then reviewed by an editor so you see the most popular deals out there. You can also set an alert to be notified when an item’s price drops. Find promo codes, coupons, and active forums for savvy tips. Other deal and coupon sites to consider: Dealnews.com, Offers.com, RetailMeNot.com.
- Did you know that Amazon.com changes their item prices multiple times daily? This Amazon price tracker monitors millions of products and alerts you when prices drop, helping you decide when to buy. Other great price-comparison sites (not just for Amazon): PriceGrabber.com and google.com/shopping.
- Use this shopping portal before you shop to activate coupons and cash back from over 2,000 online retailers. Just following the link to your favorite store could activate a cash-back offer—with nothing left for you to do! Other great cashback shopping portals: MrRebates.com, TopCashBack.com, and BeFrugal.com.
- So you’ve found all of the stuff you need to buy. Now be sure you don’t have to pay to ship it: On December 15, 2017, more than 1,000 online merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. There are also free shipping plans available for an annual fee, such as subscribing to Amazon Prime. ShopRunner.com and FreeShipping.com are also options and work across a wide variety of online retailers.
Opt for plastic when you make your purchases. They say cash is king, but cash doesn’t carry nearly the same weight as a credit card should you need to dispute a purchase. Some cards give you a free extended warranty on eligible purchases—increasing a standard warranty by up to a year—and may also cover you if a purchase is lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged.
Also, after all of your carefully planned online research for savings, why not take your savings even further? Most cards have a loyalty program, where you earn cash back or rewards with every purchase you make.
Just be sure to pay off your balance in full when you receive your credit card statement each month; otherwise, any type of reward or perk may be overshadowed by the interest you pay, which can accumulate quickly.
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