With Thanksgiving feasts all wrapped up and Christmas right around the corner, most will begin focusing on their lengthy holiday shopping lists. ‘Tis the season…to go into debt while shopping for all your family, friends, teachers and co-workers. No need to go broke while finding just the right gift for that special person. Follow these tips and come out debt free after the holidays.
1. Make a Shopping List
Prior to doing any shopping, make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend. If you know in advance you can take advantage of retailers ‘Buy Two Get Third Free’ type deals, suggests the National Retail Federation.
2. Shop Online and Compare
Once you know what items you’d like to purchase, use a site such as nextag.com to see where you can buy them cheapest. The site includes local retailers as well as online merchants and includes shipping costs so you’ll know you’re getting the best price available. Plus, you’re saving on time and gas not having to drive all around town.
3. Use Ebates.com
When purchasing online always use Ebates.com. Founded in 1998, Ebates is the leader of online cash back shopping. Ebates pays members cash back for most online purchases as well as provide you with the best coupons and deals online. I’ve been using Ebates for a couple of years for all of my online shopping and have received several cash back checks. Membership is free and you’ll even receive a gift card of your choice after signing up and making your first purchase. There is no catch, it’s that easy. Why not get cash back for the shopping you’re going to do online anyway? Checks are dispersed four times a year. Dare I say you’re being paid to shop?
4. Use a Coupon or Coupon Code
It’s rare I purchase anything without a coupon and 9 out of 10 times it’s also on sale. Stores most always offer some form of a discount. If you find yourself in a store and need a last minute coupon, try the app RetailMeNot. Simply type in the store you’re searching for and if there are coupons available, show the cashier your phone and you’ve just saved yourself, in most cases, at least 10%.
5. Debit or Credit?
This one can go either way depending on how you manage your spending. My personal favorite, if you pay your credit card bills in full every month, is to charge every possible purchase on a credit card you’re earning rewards with. American Express and Discover both offer cash back in several forms, but it’s most lucrative to take it as a credit on your statement. If you’re the type to put off a monthly payment or two, opt for Debit. You can’t spend more than you have which will always leave you in the green and you’ll avoid the burden of an interest payment.
6. Ship Gifts Directly to the Recipient
Have you done most of your shopping online? Most online retailers can ship items to a different location than your billing address. During the holiday season, when many people are traveling, take advantage of this feature by sending gifts ahead of your arrival. Some companies can even ship pieces from a single order to multiple locations. So relax, no need to worry about precious space in the car or carrying the cumbersome packages on the plane, the gifts will be there when you arrive.
7. Free Gift Wrapping
Save time and money on wrapping supplies. Many department stores offer free gift wrapping with purchase. Simply show your store receipt and watch your gifts be boxed and nicely wrapped with your choice of paper and a pretty bow and name tag. If your particular store does not offer wrapping, take advantage of charity gift wrapping. Make a donation and have several of your gifts wrapped in a timely manner. It’s for a good cause and a win-win for all.