Believe it or not, as of Thursday it will be six weeks until Christmas day!
The question is are you a procrastinator who will be fighting the last second crowds and desperately shopping on Christmas Eve? Or are you one of those ultra organized people who had everything bought and wrapped back in July?
Chances are most of us fall somewhere in between those extremes and you probably are at least starting to think about starting your Christmas shopping. If that’s you, here are some ways to save and get more for your money this year.
Have a plan
Make a list of who you plan to buy for and decide ahead of time how much you will spend on each person. Be intentional. Having an amount in mind for each person will help you avoid those impulse purchases that can easily get out of control.
There is a difference psychologically to paying with cash as opposed to using a credit card. When you swipe a card it doesn’t register in your brain the same way as when you actually hand that cash over. When you pay with cash you feel the purchase more than when you use a credit or a debit card. Plus, when you use cash it will help you stick to that plan you just created because when the cash is gone there is no more spending. And most important, when you use cash you don’t have to dread that sinking feeling when the credit card statements start arriving in January.
Black Friday… online
Perhaps you are one of those who love the challenge of heading out before the crack of dawn on Black Friday to fight through the crowds and get the latest deals. I’ve done it on occasion, but too often it has amounted to standing in line in frigid weather waiting for the doors to open, racing through the crowds, only to find that there were only two of the sale items I was looking for and they were grabbed by some guy who had been camped out by the door for three days.
What I have discovered in recent years is that many of those sale items are also available online. There usually are a limited number of items available so you need to make sure you know when the sale starts and be online soon after. But sitting at home making the purchase in my nice warm, quiet home is a lot easier than fighting the 4:00 am crowds. I get some great deals every year by doing this.
Use E-Bates or similar services
I love using E-Bates to save a little money on my online purchases. There are tons of retailers that offer savings through E-Bates. Using the service could not be easier. Simply go to E-Bates.com and then from the E-bates site click on the link to the store where you want to shop. You’ll be redirected to the retailer’s web site where you shop like you normally would. When you make your purchase, E-Bates will send you a rebate of part of your purchase. Many retailers offer rebates of 2-4% with some 5-10% or more.
I have frequently used E-Bates, but there are several other similar sites like RetailMeNot.com or BradsDeals.com that provide similar services. You won’t get rich using these sites, but every dollar helps, especially when it often only takes a couple extra clicks to save.
Store rewards and mailing lists
If your favorite stores have a shopper rewards card or a mailing list. sign up.
The grocery store where we frequently shop also has gas stations and you can earn fuel perks to save on gas by shopping at the grocery store. They also sell gift cards for a number of popular retailers and they often give double fuel perks on gift card purchases. So sometimes if I know I am going to make a purchase, I stop by the grocery store, pick up some gift cards and save a little extra on my gas.
Many retailers also have mailing lists and frequently send out coupons for in-store purchases. I’ve used these coupons on many occasions to save and the only cost is a few extra e-mails.
Discounted gift cards
Sites like GiftCardGranny.com allow you to buy gift cards for less than their face value. E-Bay is another good site for finding discounted gift cards. If I can buy a $50 gift card for $45, I just saved 10% on my purchase.
Watch out for buying yourself gifts
I know I have been guilty of this and I bet you have too. I go Christmas shopping and come home with 2 presents bought for others and 4 things I bought for me. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you see a good sale on something you need. Just have a care that you don’t spend all your Christmas money buying presents for yourself.