The holiday season is upon us, which means you’re likely shopping for gifts, decor, and other trimmings. The cost of holiday shopping can quickly cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, derailing your financial goals and wrecking your budget.
Luckily, there are strategies you can use to rein in your spending and even save money during the holidays. Use these seven tips to save this holiday season.
1. Create a list
It may sound cliche, but coming up with a list and a budget before shopping is essential so you don’t blow through unnecessary cash. Carefully think of who exactly you have to shop for, and identify a set number of gifts and a dollar amount for each person. Then, double check your list before making a purchase.
Having a written list to refer to will help curb impulse buys in the checkout line and ensure you stay on budget.
2. Shop using Rakuten
If you do a lot of shopping online, you need to sign up for Rakuten. Otherwise, you’re basically throwing money away. With Rakuten, you can get cash back for making your purchases online, at no cost to you. Every quarter, the company will mail a check to you. Depending on your shopping habits, you could earn hundreds to pay for your holiday shopping.
For example, shop at Kohl’s and get 6% cash back. Or, if you traditionally send floral arrangements for friends and loved ones, send flowers through 1-800-Flowers and get a whopping 15% cash back. If you spend $100 on flowers, that means you’ll get $15 back.
3. Use discounted gift cards
Shopping with discounted gift cards is a great way to stretch your budget further. You can purchase gift cards for a fraction of their value from sites like Raise.com or GiftCardGranny. For example, you can get a $500 Best Buy gift card for just $420, a 16% discount. Use the gift cards to buy your gifts, or give the gift cards away as gifts themselves.
4. Pay with a cash back rewards credit card
A good cash back rewards credit card can be a huge help during the holiday season. You can use the rewards you’ve earned throughout the year to pay for your gifts, plus earn additional rewards for your holiday spending. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back allows you to earn up to 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
You can even use the card’s cash back to pay off your holiday purchases in January if you redeem them for statement credits.
5. Take advantage of price match deals
Most major retailers will price match deals, saving you from having to run from store to store to get the best price. Just bring a copy of the competitor’s ad, and most stores will adjust the sales price to match it or even beat it.
6. Sign up for Paribus
Sales are constantly starting and ending during the holiday season. You can remove some of the stress of getting the best deal by using Paribus. Paribus is an app that syncs to your email account and scans it for email confirmations from retailers.
Once it finds a confirmation email, it scans those retailers for new sales and deals. If the price of an item you bought drops, Paribus will automatically reach out to the retailer for a price adjustment for you. Once the claim goes through, Paribus will refund the difference to you, saving you from doing the legwork yourself.
7. Check CamelCamelCamel
If you do most of your shopping on Amazon — and who doesn’t? — CamelCamelCamel is an invaluable tool. It’s a free price tracker, letting you know when the best time to buy an item is for you.
Just enter the name or URL of the item you want, and it will tell you what it typically sells for, what’s the lowest it sells for, and when you should expect the price to dip again. If the price is near its lowest point, that’s a good signal that it’s time to snatch it up before the price goes up again.
Shopping this year
By using these strategies, you can stretch your budget further and save money during the holidays. By using a combination of budgeting and helpful apps and rewards credit cards, you can limit your spending while still enjoying a festive holiday.
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