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holiday shopping

Holiday Shopping Tips

By Cindy Livesey

Don’t get fooled by the Black Friday hype. You don’t need to shop on Black Friday to save money on holiday gifts. However, if TVs, appliances or jewelry are on your shopping list, then Black Friday is the day for you.
For everything else on your list, I have some tips to save you money this holiday shopping season.

Plan Ahead
Make a list of everyone you have to shop for and write down some ideas of gifts you’d like to buy. Then create a budget for each person. This helps you from making impulse buys and spending more than you wanted to.

Choose Gifts That Last All Year
Get the biggest bang for your buck and select gifts that will last all year.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Membership to a museum or science center
2. Subscription boxes like FabFitFun or Birchbox
3. Subscriptions to Sling TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
4. Season passes to a local attraction
5. Classes for photography, pottery, cooking, etc.
6. Season tickets to a minor league sports team, community theater, etc.

Tips for Shopping Online
Shopping online is not only easier but can save you so much more money.
Here are a few tips to help you get the best prices:
1. Do some research ahead of time so you know your prices.
2. Shop ahead of sales and place the items in your shopping cart. This way, when the sales begin, you are one step ahead. This works great for sites like Amazon when you are shopping their lightening deals. Items can sell out fast, so having items already in your cart allows you to grab them quicker.
3. Use sites like to track prices. It will allow you to see price history so you know when you are really getting the lowest prices. You can even set alerts so you are notified when an item you want drops in price.
4. Use cashback sites to get money back while shopping online. There are a bunch of different sites with some of the bigger ones being Rakuten, TopCashBack and more. To earn your cash back, you simply shop through their links. Once your purchase is confirmed, your cash back amount will be deposited into your account. For sites like Rakuten, you can are sent your “big fat check” at the end of every quarter.

Tips for Shopping In- Store
If you prefer shopping in store, here are some tips to help you get the best prices:
1. Bring your list with you to help you stay focus on what and who you are shopping for. Remember, retailers know how to place items for impulse buys, so steer clear of those items and just stick to your list.
2. Price-check items while in the store. One way to do that is to simply check the store’s online site. Many times, it will be lower online than what is advertised in the store. Most stores will match their own online prices. Also, you can use the Amazon app to compare prices. Some stores won’t price-match Amazon, so it’s important to know the store’s policy. However, you can easily just order it from Amazon if it’s less money, of course.
3. If you are shopping on Black Friday, be sure to know your store’s return policy for items purchased that day. It may differ from the store’s regular return policy.
4. Sign up for the store’s loyalty programs. For instance, Target has Target Circle which allows you to get extra discounts on select items each week. Simply scan the item(s) you want to buy with the Target App, and it will let you know if there are extra discounts available at that time. Then you simply scan your Target Circle barcode at checkout to get the discounts. Plus, be sure to get a Target RedCard which will get you a 5 percent discount every time you use it at checkout.

My favorite day to shop for holiday gifts is online on Thanksgiving night and on Cyber Monday. I have gotten some of the best deals during those times. But, most importantly, make your list and stick to it. That, alone, will save you a ton of money.

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