For those of you who didn’t have the chance to release your inner consumerist on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, there are still plenty of ways to save on holiday shopping this season. You might’ve missed Black Friday, or what some shoppers refer to as “The Big Show,” but there’s no reason to give up on making the most of your gift-giving budget.
1. Use gift cards.
It’s about this time each year when Nanas across the country hound their grandchildren with gift cards to pants stores and other places that may be “off the map.” If you don’t have the heart to tell Nana you don’t actually shop at the pants store, despite their nice pants selection, there are other ways to make use of your gift cards during the holidays.
If you have old gift cards around you never used, you can use those for gifts, or sell them to others for cash. You can also be proactive, and look for other people’s unused gift cards online.
“If you plan to buy a bunch of gifts from one store, buy a discounted gift card for the store from PlasticJungle.com and GiftCardRescue.com – and use it in the store to save big,” said Catey Hill, author and financial expert. “For example, if you buy a $50 Amazon gift card for $35, you’ll be able to buy your family $50 worth of presents – but only have paid $35 for them.”
2. Look for free shipping and other discounts.
“You can often score great deals by shopping online, but those pesky shipping fees can cut into savings,” said Hill. “Check out FreeShipping.org, which offers shipping deals from more than 2,600 stores. Combine those offers with coupons and deals from the store to save big.”
In addition to shopping comparison sites, you can check out the early ads offered directly by retailers.
“Look at weekly ads online ahead of time to see what’s on sale and make your shopping list by checking out the door busters,” said Jon Lal, financial expert and cofounder of BeFrugal, a cash-back rewards website. “By looking online at the flyers, you do not need to buy or wait for the delivery of a newspaper.”
3. Put technology to use.
Today’s shopper has enough tools at their disposal to never pay more than they have to. Between free shopping apps, comparison sites and shopping forums, saving money is simply a matter of investing your time and energy into the right technologies.
“With the free RedLaser app, you can scan the barcode of the item and it will compare prices for it across many retailers,” said Hill. “Or score coupons for your favorite stores with the free app Coupon Sherpa, which lets you create a wish-list of your favorite stores, and the app will send you coupons from those stores.”
You can also use online shopping to control your spending and impulse buys, something “the real world” doesn’t always offer.
“Use online shopping features to help you stick to your budget,” said Lal. “The online shopping cart’s total tallying feature keeps you within budget. If you realize you are overspending, just unload your cart without an embarrassment or line hold up as you would at the store.”
4. Find online coupons.
“Why pay full price when opportunities for savings are everywhere during the holidays? All it takes is a little extra effort and research,” said Lisa Reynolds, founder of coupon site RedPlum. “Websites like Save.com offer tremendous deals on gifts from top retailers – making it easier to get everyone on your list more for less.”
You can also Google search terms that may bring up additional savings you might not find otherwise. You can search “discount code,” “coupon code” and other terms along with name of the company or site you’re shopping on.
5. Go sentimental.
Sometimes, the best gift you can give is the result of tender love, care and sweat. Not greenbacks. For the overly emotional, young or old people in your life – or really, anyone – consider going the handcrafted route.
“For many, personalized and handmade gifts are often the most memorable and cherished gifts of the holiday season,” Reynolds said. “Use your thoughtfulness and creativity to craft or personalize what you give this holiday season.”
The combination of online savings, time spent uncovering hidden discounts, and taking a DIY approach to your gifts can ease the burden of holiday shopping, and help you forget your lackluster Black Friday shopping performance.…