Save Money on Christmas Shopping
Have you ever noticed how Christmas took forever to come when you were little but seems to sneak up on you every year as an adult?
Plus, I think that rush only amplifies with the more children you have. As recently as when my first daughter was a baby, I really had a handle on the holidays. I was one of those people who shopped throughout the late summer and fall for holiday gifts and entered December serene.
Then, I had another baby and those babies grew into young children with more complex needs and schedules.
And then, just for good measure, I threw another baby into the mix last April and everything got a whole lot more hectic. I don’t have time to clean my house, much less shop for Christmas.
But I am a couponer and since I blog about these things, savings and holiday planning has been on my mind a lot in the past few months. And I did, technically, get started with some shopping back in October as well as take advantage of my favorite Black Friday deals. Yet, I am nowhere near as ready (gift-wise) as I would like, and December is going fast.
So, partly out of curiosity and partly out of desperate need, I decided to investigate whether or not one could actually save money on holiday gifts by waiting until the “last minute” to buy them. It turns out, not only is early to mid-December a ripe time for savings on (certain) items, there are a variety of unique ways to put together gifts in the next two weeks that won’t break the bank or cost you too much in terms of time.
1. Buy Toys
It’s a misconception that the best toy deals come on Black Friday or that December in general is a bad time of the year to buy toys. In fact, with the exception of the last few days before December 25th, toy deals in December are often some of the best you will find all year (meaning those with the budget to do so may want to stock up on next year’s birthday gifts as well!). The trick is to know your prices and track sales. Use store-specific apps as well as general savings apps to help you when out shopping as well.
P.S. Don’t forget Target Cartwheel has a different toy on sale for 50% off every day through Christmas Eve!
2. Maximize Gift Cards
While the $20 in free groceries with a $100 gift card purchase you get on Black Friday weekend at Shoprite is pretty hard to beat, there are still a ton of gift card deals still available. This includes money back at stores as well as discounts on gift card-specific websites and deals on bundled packs.
You can even use gift card purchases as a deal stacking tool by purchasing discount gift cards (or those with rewards such as at Shoprite) and then using the gift cards themselves to shop sales. This way you save twice – once on the gift card, once on the gift.
P.S. Thanks to reader Michelle_A_SI for reminding me of that one!!
3. Use Social Media
The holidays are one of those times of the year when it actually pays to be addicted to Facebook. Many companies offer flash sales, exclusive coupon codes, and other deals to social media followers first. If you frequently engage with a company (i.e. “liking” posts) you are more likely to see these sales, but many companies “boost” sales posts as well. Be on the lookout within and around your newsfeeds for engagement opportunities that could save you money.
Another way to get in on social deals (without crowding up your newsfeed) is to use hashtag searches. Popular tags include #holidaydeals and #flashsale, but with a little creativity and experimentation you may be able to find even more.
P.S. While many companies take advantage of all social media, the best deals are on the “big two” (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). You might want to consider starting a separate account just for deal tracking on these sites in order to keep your personal newsfeed clean.
4. Abandon Your Shopping Cart
If you are like me then sitting down to make an online purchase doesn’t always go smoothly. From obsessive price-checks to child-related interruptions, leaving items in the cart, unpurchased happens about 50% of the time for me and sometimes this is a fortunate accident.
Many retailers, especially around the holidays, want your patronage. If you leave a shopping cart and are signed into an existing account, this may lead to an “oops, you forgot to check out email” AND sometimes those emails contain added savings such as free shipping or a bonus gift.
P.S. This, obviously, doesn’t always work and it is not a good idea if you are afraid that the item(s) you want are going to be out of stock.
5. Give the Gift of Time
I know this sounds cheesy, but hear me out. December is a monster. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it. For those of us up north, the weather is getting colder and the sky is getting darker, but we really don’t notice because our schedules are so packed.
And then January hits.
Again, especially for those of us in the north, the long, cold winter ahead is a major let-down following holiday cheer. So why not think ahead and give the gift of your time later on in the season? Make a voucher for a movie night at your house. Or one to come over and cook dinner for your parents. Volunteer at a soup kitchen in January (once all the holiday do-gooders are gone).
In other words, give something money can’t buy.
**What are your last-minute savings strategies this holiday season?**