Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gearing Up for Christmas Shopping

I shared how I've been preparing for the holiday season here, and as I start to accomplish some of the items on that list I've been moving into more specific shopping preparation.  Making gift lists and scoping out deals are now a daily task for me, as I try to stretch my Christmas budget as far as it will go.

So I thought that today I'd share a few specific early shopping strategies that will help you prepare to hit the mall (or cyberspace) with confidence and to make the most of your gifting money.

So here are 5 strategies to gear up for your holiday shopping:

Making your list and checking it twice - It can't be stated enough - preparation, preparation, preparation!  Once you have your list of gift recipients and have set your budget, start jotting down ideas for what to get each person.  Then start narrowing down your choices as soon as possible.  The more specifically you know what items you want, the easier it is to find a good deal.

Comparing prices - Once you know certain items for which you are in the market, start doing a little research.  Find out the suggested retail price, and then find out if it often/ever sells for less.  If it is an item sold on Amazon, you can use CamelCamelCamel to get an idea of it's pricing history.  You can also use comparative shopping sites like Nextag or Pricegrabber to compare current prices, although I have found that these sites are not comprehensive.  Or simply check the price at a few large merchants online or in a few local stores.  Once you know the going price for an item, you'll know a great deal when you find it.

Signing up for store email lists - In the past few days I have been signing up for the email newsletter for every store that I think I might patronize for Christmas shopping.  You never know what kind of discounts and deals they may offer by email, and these emails also often include sale and clearance alerts.  I have a separate email address for coupons and newsletters, so I'm not worried about clogging up my inbox.

Taking advantage of early offers - I was so proud of my mom the other night when she told me she had already knocked out gifts for six relatives!  It was late one night last week when she checked her email and found that a food gift company that she likes had sent her an offer for free shipping that day only.  Even though it was late, she realized that this deal would be a huge savings when she was planning to send food gifts to a number of different relatives.  It turned out that you did not have to have the items shipped right away, so she picked out gifts, scheduled them for Christmas delivery, got free shipping, and saved over $50!  Lesson learned: if you find an offer now that you know is an excellent deal, there's no use procrastinating in the hope that something better might come along. 

Waiting a little while, then buying - That being said, I am waiting to start most of my actual shopping until after Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  Even if I don't make it to the store next weekend, there will be so many online deals that I want to wait and check them out.  (You can check out the Black Friday ad scans here, and you can see my Black Friday shopping tips here.) However, after Cyber Monday I am not hesitating further.  I'm not the gambling type, and even if there is an amazing last-minute deal the week before Christmas, I don't mind paying a little more for peace of mind!

What other tips to you have to make the most of your Christmas shopping?

Check out more frugal tips at Frugal Fridays.

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1 comment:

  1. Great post!

    I am checking you out from Frugal Friday and I am now your newest follower. Follow me back to Free 2 Be Frugal!


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