We’ll admit that our holiday shopping habits are somewhat ... haphazard. So when we see someone calmly dashing through the mall like they’re on their very own version of Shop ‘til You Drop, we can hardly suppress the urge to pull them aside and ask: “What are your secrets? TELL US YOUR SECRETS!” In lieu of interrupting pro shoppers while they’re hard at work, we’ve partnered with Sears to ask super-savvy bloggers how they do holiday shopping the right way.
Here's what we found.
1. They know that it’s all about The List.
Nearly all of the shoppers we interviewed spoke to the importance of The List. “The worst thing to do is to walk into a store without any sort of shopping game plan because then you may be tempted by all of the deals and door-busters,” says Lisa Koivu, founder of budget fashion and shopping blog Shop Girl Daily. “While the prices may be tempting, [they] may cause you to spend much more than you'd originally intended!” Bottom line? If you want to be inducted into the Super-Shopper Hall of Fame*, you’ll need to invest some quality time in planning. Sears has a handy Shop Your Way app, and there are tons more that can help you plan your trip the techie way.
*not a real place
2. They time it right.
“Go first thing in the morning on a weekday, and start your shopping ASAP,” says Anna Newell Jones, creator of And Then We Saved. “If you procrastinate, you'll end up spending far more money because you won't have the time to comparison shop.”
3. They put their smartphones to work.
Koivu notes that many stores offer deals through their app that aren’t available anywhere else. Oftentimes, these coupons can be applied on top of other sales or discounts.
4. They know how to locate the ‘fast’ line.
“Look for departmental service counters, which will often sport shorter check-out lines than the front of the store and have the same capabilities,” says the writer of the Pittsburgh-based Femme Frugality.
5. They avoid that ‘wait, let me pull that up on my phone’ moment.
Many stores post their circulars online, so a smart shopper will research and print coupons ahead of time. If you plan on retrieving a coupon online, either take a screenshot of the coupon or open it on your device before you even enter the store. “Losing service is both common and frustrating,” says our friend at Femme Frugality.
6. They price-match and price-adjust every chance they get.
Many stores will match the prices of their competitors. “That can save you time by not making you run from store to store and wait in line after line,” says Lana Boote of Bargain Hunting Moms. And a super-shopper’s work isn’t done after they’re purchased an item, no siree.
“Continue to check the ads for a week or two after purchasing your item, as many stores will offer a price adjustment if the price goes down within a certain amount of time after buying something,” says Koivu of Shop Girl Daily.
7. They avoid shipping costs at all costs.
“Many people worry about paying shipping, but there are ways around that,” says Boote. She notes that many stores allow you to order goods online and pick it up at the store for no charge at all. “You skip the checkout line and the crowds,” she says.
8. They don’t buy something just because it’s “cheap.'
This is another great reminder from Boote: “If you're trying to stay on a budget, don't buy something just because it's cheap,” she says. “Try to have someone in mind for everything you buy because even if it's a great deal, if you don't have a need for it, you're wasting money.”
9. They make sure that their ‘deals’ are actually real.
Sure, sales are super-tempting, but you’re better off doing your homework frist. “Check online and do some comparison shopping before you get all excited about the hype of a sale,” says Boote. “You never know: the sale price in the store might be the regular price you find online, or vice-versa.”
10. ...and they don’t wait around for deals to happen.
“These are some of the best deals of the season, but don't think you have to wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get the absolute lowest prices,” says Grechen Reiter of Grechen’s Closet and Grechen’s Codes. “Online stores will do markdowns and coupons before Thanksgiving, and then again before Christmas, and you'll be surprised how much lower prices will go.”
11. They remember what the spirit of giving is all about.
“This year, I’m focusing on buying fewer, more meaningful things,” says Reiter. “I think we should always aim for quality, not quantity -- especially for the holidays.” Kristen of The Frugal Girl echoes the sentiment: “Instead of buying things willy-nilly,” she says, “study your recipient so you can choose a thoughtful, heartfelt gift -- the sort of gift will mean a lot to the recipient, regardless of how much you spend.”
Sears, home of America’s most trusted brands, Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, is making holiday shopping more merry with exceptional offerings for Shop Your Way members. In addition to conveniences such as free store pick up, Member Assist and Reserve It, members receive an additional 10 percent back in points on the first $500 of each qualifying purchase with a Sears credit card all season long.