There’s nothing as nauseating as shopping for holiday gifts at the eleventh hour. To prevent myself from buying overpriced items, I made a plan. The objective of it was to save the hassles of the last-minute-pinch and also to save as many dollars as possible.
Hence, the motto: “Pay Less, Save More” has become my catchphrase this holiday season.
Paying less for more – Protecting my budget
Following financial hacks will save you big on your hard-earned dollars, boost your budget and even prevent you from sulking due to money drained on unnecessary items once the holiday season is over:
- Know thy shopping habits – A certain people, though are shopaholic, yet they make every effort to mend their ways. Some of them are terrible holiday shoppers, so much so that the retail therapy they vouch for has a flaw or two. For instance, they have limited time and money to shop during the holidays and that for them post holiday sales during January is all the more cost-effective. So, if you want to save money, then it’d be best to wait till the holidays are over. This way you won’t have to struggle with your own self and buy goods you’ve been eyeing for sometime now at half the price.
- Plan in advance – A lot of shoppers carry only a list of people for whom they want to buy the gifts. Moreover, they have a vague idea of what they are going to actually buy for each one of them. Frankly speaking, this is a surefire way to fail in your effort to save money since you’ve got the list of the people to present the gifts ready but have no inkling as to what you may want to buy for them actually. In order to resolve this crisis, you can come out and ask them about their preferences. You can use that as your master list and stick to it till the last.
- Start your shopping from home – Nowadays, you’ve got hundreds of apps and websites to price shop sitting in the confines of your home. Compare the prices of what you’ve planned to buy, both offline as well as online. Take out the list you’ve created and start looking for the best price of each item in the list, prior to stepping out of your home for the market. Note the shops/websites that offer the best deal for items you are looking to buy and coincide. This would further save you dollars on shipping and time. When there are so-many coupon-apps and compare-and-save apps, it doesn’t make any sense to pay for everything in full.
- Get coupon-crazy – Coupons are strewn all over the place, ‘it’s just that you need to look up the right way and at the right place. So, there’s no reason to buy your gifts without using them. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on these coupons or the websites that offer them. Rather you should also go through the websites of the stores that sell these goods. Sometimes, sellers also offer great discounts and loyalty programs that could benefit you big time. Hence, remember to watch out for the in-store coupons as well while you are shopping for the holiday gifts.
- Use crowd-sourced deals – A new trend is doing the rounds and that is crowd-sourcing event organized online by the websites to stir-up some unavoidable deals. These websites intend to pass on the benefits of bulk purchase to their consumers. What they do is contact the manufacturer directly asking them for bulk buy price. This way you get to buy your items at much affordable prices than what the traditional shopping destinations can actually offer. But the crowd-sourcing websites act only if they see that around 10 people are showing interest in buying a certain item. So, here too you could snap up a huge money-saving deal.
- Never ignore the big daddies of discounts – If you’re having a smart-phone, then you can use that to compare the prices of various items while you are shopping in a store. Websites like eBay, Amazon, Wayfarer, Overstock, Zulily, Groupon, etc keep fighting continuously to grab as many eyeballs as possible and to increase their share of the vast online shopping market. So, here’s your chance to capitalize on that competition and save your dollars from slipping out of your pocket into the retailers’.
- Gift what lies around idle – Prior to actually settling down to create an extensive shopping list, wouldn’t it be better if you could use some of the items lying all around the place idle? – ones that you are in no need of them any longer, to be used as gifts. This would help into shorten your shopping list and also declutter your home in return. So, what you’re actually doing is using your crap to be treasured by someone else who needs it the most. You could use those gifts as part of your ‘Secret Santa’ play too.
While you are at it, it is always advisable that you keep a track of your monthly budget closely. Doing so will help you to stay financially disciplined and keep you organized, not only during the festive seasons, but also throughout the year. Apart from that, close monitoring of your budget will ward off an eventual financial crisis on time and enable you to fortify your financial condition before a debt tsunami may hit you.
Symon Roger is a financial writer associated with the Oak View Law Group. He has been writing personal finance based article encompassing such diverse topics as debt, tax and retirement planning, college finance and household budgeting. Apart from writing financial articles, he also participates in various online communities and social media channels.