Money-Saving Tips for the Holidays

Survey results recently released by leading public accounting firm Deloitte indicate the average consumer plans to spend a total of $386 on approximately 12.8 gifts this holiday season.  How many people are you buying for?  To find the best gifts at the lowest prices this year, consider the following holiday shopping tips:

1.  Start Early

If you wait until the very last minute to buy holiday gifts, you will end up overpaying for a gift that doesn’t represent any thought.  Throughout the year, always keep a list of people for whom you regularly buy holiday gifts in the back of your mind so you can take advantage of good deals or unique items that may become available.  Gabriel Brother’s is one of the best stores in Northeast Ohio to find a great selection of discounted gifts year-round.

2. Consider Craft/DIY Gifts

According to Deloitte, the top two gifts that consumers want to receive this year are gift cards and cash.  Although gift cards can be appropriate for letter carriers and babysitters, the right handmade craft present can be many times more meaningful than a gift card.  Follow this link for some great ideas for craft gifts: http://www.the36thavenue.com/2011/11/25-handmade-gifts-under-5.html.

3. Venture Out on Black Friday

Black Friday shopping can be either a fun adventure or a nightmare.  To some, the time waiting in line and the hassle of getting up at 3 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving is not worth the savings.  To others, the experience associated with being a part of the Black Friday phenomenon is a priceless family bonding experience. Deals can be had and money can be saved, but it will take proper planning, a handful of gas money and a fresh pot of coffee.  If you decide to venture out, take note of the exact time each store you are targeting opens.  If you want first crack at one of the prized limited quantity doorbusters, be prepared to arrive several hours before the store opens.  Follow this link for a free, continuously updated compilation of black Friday advertisements: http://www.fatwallet.com/black-friday/ads/.

4. Shop Online

Make sure to use Google, Amazon or eBay to compare prices and read reviews about gifts you are considering.  Always be careful when assessing the credibility of an Internet retailer—if a deal looks too good to be true, it might be.  Remember to consider the shipping and handling costs as they are part of the total cost of the gift you order, and make sure the gift will arrive in time.  Before purchasing anything from a website, always type the store name into the search bar at www.retailmenot.com to check if there are any current special promotions or “coupon codes.”  This free website offers a compilation of user-submitted, up -to-date codes that you can enter into the checkout page and receive a discount on your order.  Some credit card companies (such as Discover) offer extra cashback incentives when you click through to a retailer’s website from the credit card’s website.  These cashback incentives can save you a lot of money as long as you don’t let them lead you to spend more money on the website than you otherwise would have.  If you don’t have a credit card with such a rewards program, you can still get cashback rewards for online purchases by signing up for a free account at www.mrrebates.com.

Please feel free to share your own holiday shopping tips in the comments below!