The holidays are expensive. Even if you don’t have to buy plane tickets, there’s still food to buy, cards to send, worn-out decorations to replace… and then there are gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend an average of $1,048 to celebrate the holidays this year. A 4 percent increase over last year’s estimated average spend of $1,007. Gifts account for more than 62 percent of that total.
It’s hard to escape from this holiday spend-fest, especially if there are kids in your life. However it is possible to spend less without becoming the family Grinch. Check out these money-saving tips to get you on the right track.
Black Friday shopping is a classic strategy for saving on holiday gifts. Stores fight to outdo each other with rock-bottom prices and “doorbuster” deals.
These days, Black Friday deals don’t just appear on that one day after Thanksgiving. Retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target now offer “Black Friday” deals all through November. Look for aggregate lists like CNET’s to get you started.
Price comparison is also a time-tested way to save on holiday gifts, but it’s much easier now than it used to be. On Google Shopping, for example, all you have to do is enter a product name or category and you’ll get options from all over the web. Even limiting your search by local availability, price point, and more.
You can conduct similar searches on sites like Shopzilla or PriceGrabber. There are even apps like ShopSavvy and Shopkick, which let you scan bar codes and price-compare while you’re in a store looking at a product. Plus, don’t forget coupons! You can access coupons in real time with these top apps.
If you’re an online shopper, consider signing up for Honey. This online shopping assistant not only automatically applies coupons in participating e-Commerce stores. In addition, it lets you track the price of an item and will notify you if an item you selected has dropped in price. It’s great when you know the item that you want to purchase and have the time to wait for it to go on sale, so sign up early.
If you plan to pay with credit when you do your holiday shopping, the first thing you need to do is set a budget and commit to it. No gift is worth going into debt.
That said, if you can pay off your balance right away, shopping with a credit card lets you take advantage of cashback and other rewards without accruing interest. It’s best to use a card you already have, since applying for a new card can temporarily hurt your credit, but sometimes a new card will give you the best rewards. Do the math and use your judgment.
To save money on holiday gifts, you have to put in some time and research your options. Don’t impulse buy something that looks good when you see it advertised. Plan in advance – make a list of gift ideas, then do some digging to find the best price. Your wallet and your loved ones will thank you!