Nothing says I hate my life like shopping for holiday gifts at the last minute. Last year I vowed to NEVER find myself in a line that snakes all the way to the back of the store, to buy over priced crap because I'm in a last-minute-pinch. So I made a plan. A really good plan to not only save time, but money too! Here are my best 10 tips to save BIG on holiday shopping... and not find yourself crying in a mile long line holding overpriced junk.
Before I get started, I need you to repeat after me...
I will not pay full price this holiday season
1. Plan ahead. Everyone's been naughty, just make the list already! Probably the biggest mistake I make is heading to the stores with a loose list of people to shop for, and a vague idea of what I want to get them. Nothing says FAIL faster! Make a list of anyone and everyone you may want/need to buy gifts for, then add your vague gift ideas... maybe even go so far as to just come out and ask them what they want. Then use this as your master list. Stick to it, and when that person has been taken care of, write down what you got them, and cross them off the list.
2. This is not about you! I am so bad about shopping for myself during the holidays. So bad. As much I am a huge fan of retail therapy, there are two major flaws with this:
1. My holiday shopping time and budget is limited.
2. The post holiday clearance sales in January are way better.
It's best to leave yourself out of the equation until after the holidays. Plus, won't it feel so much better trading in Auntie Nell's ugly sweater for the one you've had your eye on since the holidays... that's now half price!?
3. Leave the distractions at home. When possible, avoid taking your child(ren) with you. Even if this means trading all of your lunch breaks until January. Brown bag it and shop in peace. We all know, kids not only complicate the mission, they can make it costly needing extras... and don't forget the chance for meltdowns and diaper blowouts.
4. Price shop from home. There are way too many apps and websites available today to not to compare prices, both online and in stores. Pull out the list you made and start going through it before you start shopping. Write down where the best deal is, then check your list once finished for stores or websites that overlap. This can save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.
Example: I needed a big ticket item from a big box hardware store. I went to their website, found what I wanted, then searched for a coupon code. I was able to save 20% at checkout with a coupon code I found on RetailMeNot.com. What made the deal even sweeter was that I opted for in-store pickup. This was fast, seamless and saved me time and money. DO THIS!!!
5. Crowd-Sourced Deals. There is a new trend going on where websites are crowdsourcing for cheaper deals. Basically, if 10 people show interest in an item, then the website reaches out directly to the manufacturer for a bulk buy rate, then passes the deal on. Look for theses deals on those big ticket items.
6. Coupon like a crazy person. Coupons are everywhere these days, don't buy without them! Don't just rely on coupon specific websites and apps, check the website for the store you are heading to. Many are offering in-store coupons.
7. Don't discount the discount sites. Websites like Amazon, Groupon, Zulily, Overstock, Wayfarer... all will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it! Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders. I have each bookmarked this time of year to check quickly for steals on things on my list.
8. Shop Secondhand. What does every parent have in common at 2am on Christmas Eve/Hanukkah? They're putting together toys. So, if you are going to give your child a fully assembled toy anyway, why not just buy it secondhand, shine it up and slap a bow on it? Secondhand children's stores and higher end consignment shops have incredible deals on gently used items.
9. Hit up Pinterest and get crafty. Make something for the person that has everything. Every year I knit hats and scarves for family and friends. They all look forward to them now; some even put in orders for specific colors.
10. Regift it! Before you do any of the things on this list, grab a box and walk around your house filling it with crap you don't want anymore. Remember, your crap is another person's treasure. Somehow. Once you have filled the box, sit down and decide which friend/family member or what holiday party's Secret Santa you can gift the goods to.