By Kelly Hodges
As the calendars flip into December, the days left for holiday shopping become numbered. Though the frenzied deals from Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, there are still plenty of ways to find great deals on gifts in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Here are a few ways to ensure your loved ones receive the gifts their hearts desire while ensuring there is some extra money left to treat yourself this year as well.
1. Compare Prices Online. If there is a certain item you have in mind, head to the internet before going to the store. Check the websites of retailers in your area that carry the product, and then compare their prices to those you can find online. Often times online retailers will offer lower prices than the brick and mortar stores, which saves you both time and money. If you’re already at a store you can still compare prices with online competitors by using a price-scanning app such as ShopSavvy. Simply scan the product’s bar code with your smart phone and instantly see if the product is being offered for less online.
2. Earn Cash Back. If you are shopping online, one of the easiest ways to recoup some of your spending is to use cash back website. Ebates is the site I prefer to use, but most credit cards also offer a cash back feature on their website, and they all work pretty much the same way. Simply start your search on the cash back site, click the retailer you plan to purchase from, and you will automatically earn a percentage of the purchase back in cash! The process takes literally a few seconds, and the 3-20% cash back earned often makes items bought online a much better deal than those in the store.
3. Use Promo Codes. Never complete an online transaction without first checking for additional discounts offered via promo codes. Go to retailmenot.com and type in the name of the store you plan to purchase from. This site will tell you if there are any additional percentages off, free shipping, or other deals being offered along with the promo code needed to get them. Enter the code in while you’re checking out and score instant savings.
4. Use Your Points. Do you have credit card points sitting in your account collecting dust? The holidays are a great time to trade in some of those points for gift cards that can be used for holiday shopping. Most credit card reward systems offer a gift card exchange, and usually the gift card value exceeds the value of the credit card points. For example, a Discover Card user can exchange $80 worth of points and receive a $100 gift card to the Gap. The gift card can then be used to buy your Gap-loving nephew those jeans he’s dying to own, and you didn’t spend a penny in the process.
5. Know Your Plastic. If you have more than one credit card in your wallet, make sure you are using the one that will get you the most rewards when doing your holiday shopping. Often the best card at one type of retailer won’t be the best at another, so review what categories earn the most on each card before you start your shopping. Just make sure you will have the money to pay off the bills come January, carrying a balance on the card is the best way to negate the savings you worked so hard to get in the first place.
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.