Make a budget. Make a list of who you want to buy gifts for. Determine your overall budget first and then decide how much you want — and can afford — to spend on each person. And stick to your budget. This takes tremendous discipline. You may want to shop with someone who can provide a voice of reason and keep you from overspending.
Get started early. Good deals are often available before the official holiday shopping season starts – traditionally the day after Thanksgiving. However it seems to get earlier every year. Prices are usually lower, you have more time to take advantage of online or mail order bargains and you can find some great deals on models that are being phased out toward the end of the year.
Use coupons and special shopping times. If you’re buying online, there are a number of websites who offer coupons such as RetailMeNot.com, CouponCabin.com, Coupons.com, and Ebates.com. Make sure the merchant is reputable by locating an image of an “unbroken key” or “closed lock” security icon in the corner of your browser window. Click here to read our blog about shopping safely online. Many retail stores also offer extra discounts on specific days and between the special shopping hours.
Look for bargains. Identical products can have major price variations — often 50% or more — especially for audio-video and computer equipment. Don’t assume that prices are always lower in catalogs or on television shopping channels, no matter what their ads claim.
Know the store’s return policies before you buy. Ask for a written return policy and be sure there are no restocking or other fees on returned merchandise.
Avoid buying unnecessary warranties. Resist the pressure to buy an extended warranty or service contract for most products. Extended warranties often duplicate the product’s existing warranty and are rarely worth the extra cost.
Keep records of all your purchases. To make sure you stay on track, keep all sales receipts. Receipts will also come in handy when monitoring your credit card statements. It’s nice to get a gift receipt for your recipients, too — they’ll enjoy the gift even more if they can trade it in for something that fits or suits them better.
Pay by cash, check, or debit card. The best way to avoid finance charges from credit card bills is to use your credit card only when you have to. Pay by cash, check, or debit card whenever possible. Look for surcharge-free ATMs when needing cash.
Pay off your credit card bill quickly. Avoid large interest payments by paying off your credit card bill in full. If you can’t do that, pay as much of the bill as you can each month.
Consider transferring the balance to a low-interest card. Look for low-or-no-interest credit cards to which you can transfer your credit card balance.
What are your holiday shopping tips? Let us know in the comments below!