Some people get their holiday shopping done in July (read: psychopaths). But for the rest of us, December is a busy time full of advertisements. Everywhere we go, brands compete for our attention, knowing as consumers we are trying to get the absolute best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Whether it’s gifts for the holidays or a little retail therapy for ourselves, this is easily the biggest shopping time of the year.
But with killer deals out there on every street corner and in every corner and crevice of the internet, how can you keep your sanity while shopping this year? There’s no doubt that there are savings to be had, but where does one even begin?
There should be a method to your holiday shopping madness, and we want to help you unlock the best deals without going crazy. So, here you have it. The 11 best ways to avoid having a wall in your bedroom that looks like this by December 12th:
1. Shop alone
Yeah, I know it sounds depressing, but human nature suggests when we shop with others we’re more likely to be influenced to make a big spur-of-the-moment purchase.
And yes, this could be true at a mall or store, but it’s also true if we’re online. Don’t run your ideas by other people. You know darn well if you should be pulling the trigger or not and you know your budget better than anybody else.
Shop alone. You’ve got this.
2. Browse for a while before adding your first item to the cart
This seems obvious, but it really isn’t. You might see a deal that you think you like within a few minutes of clicking. The odds are there is something comparable or better out there at a cheaper price.
We suggest looking around for at least 15-20 minutes before grabbing items. The same could be said for shopping in a store. Do you just walk in and start throwing everything in a bag? Maybe if you are made of money, but it pays to be scrupulous.
3. Don’t be afraid of coupons
Many sites make it their business to allow you to easily and quickly search for and redeem deals online. A few examples are RetailMeNot, Groupon and Coupons.com. Give those a look and you might even be inspired to buy something great for your nephew that maybe you wouldn’t even have considered.
4. Don’t charge more than you can pay off to a credit card
It might be tempting to charge that next gen TV and home entertainment system to your Mastercard, but it won’t be so cool when a month later you’re in the throws of credit card debt and you have no foreseeable way to pay it off.
A little dramatic? Yeah, but this is how you have to think if you want to have a great holiday without literally losing all of your money.
5. Track price changes for more expensive items
There are apps out there that help with this, but you can also manually check out past prices of the items you’re shopping for in order to determine whether now is a good time to buy or if you should wait for the price to drop.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily advisable for something that costs $25, but if you’re making a big purchase you’ll want to rest assured that you’re getting a good price.
6. Shop almost exclusively online if you can
This one is up for debate. Of course, the benefits to doing your shopping online are clear. Efficiency, more easily applicable coupons, everything being available, shipping no longer costing an arm and a leg, and in many cases overall better prices – online shopping is quite clearly the way to go.
I do imagine when it comes to clothes and/or other items you’d like to try on, feel, or touch, shopping in person could be better. However, there’s now relatively lenient return policies for most items.
Maybe we’re biased, but hey… we’re a profitable e-commerce business. I mean, we have some experience here.
7. Plan ahead
Okay, it might be a little late for this one. But you still have time to make smart saving decisions during the coming month. Eat out less, don’t spend money unless you feel it’s necessary, and hopefully by the time that you’re making your purchases for holiday gifts, you’ll have some… you know, money.
Budgeting out a range that you’re willing to spend on your family and friends as well as yourself is key to not overdoing it
8. Don’t pitch a tent outside of a department store in the freezing cold
I don’t know if you’ve been reading up to this point, but you don’t have to do this!
9. Don’t wait until the last minute
This can be tempting. Especially now that you can lazily add a bunch of items to your cart and have them at your house seemingly overnight. But if you don’t want to overspend on expedited shipping and/or possibly miss the day you were supposed to have the gift by, you’ll want to avoid waiting until the midnight hour to start shopping.
10. Re-gift, but carefully
Have a fully boxed off George Foreman Grill but you don’t eat meat? Wrap that bad boy up, put a bow on it and fire it off to someone who’d enjoy it more than you. This is a safe move if you are careful. If you’re bad at keeping secrets, you might want to pass on this.
Also, getting the same gift for multiple people works too.
11. Look for great cash-back opportunities through Rakuten and similar sites
Cash-back websites combine spending money with earning money. These shopping portals return to members a percentage of what they spend on qualifying purchases.
Some examples of popular cash-back sites include:
Make sure you’re using a trusted site and the process will be fairly straightforward.
Happy shopping out there! And remember, if you’re on the opposite end, selling products around the holidays, give us a shout! We look forward to hearing from you.