It’s gift-giving time of year!! Shoppers are out in full force. The image portrayed on a TV commercial of a holiday shopper leaves you in a state of awe and wonder. She’s wearing a wool cap, gloves and matching plaid scarf strolling along an outside mall, sunshine reflecting on white fluffy mounds of snow in the background, as she clutches five shopping bags full of already wrapped gifts. Of course, her face beams with a broad smile, and holiday music plays in the background.
We all know holiday shopping isn’t like that in the real world.
Here are my 7 Holiday Shopping Survival Tips for the Faint of Heart:
Ask family and friends for a wish list…we this every year now at Thanksgiving. We ask for five “would be” gifts they desire…and some can be gift cards, but not necessarily. If you don’t want to ask friends for a wish list, then ask their spouse, children for ideas and keep your eyes and ears open for unintentional hints throughout the year. My husband did this last year with a gift for me. And he said afterward, “You see I really do pay attention.” Love that guy.
Plan your budget – and plan to go over a little. It’s a fact of life things tend to cost more than we think they do. So build that into your money management. Give yourself a 10% leeway on your budget. Then think smart. If you have gift cards to purchase, many stores offer a “free gift card” or cash allowance, if you buy your gift cards at their store. So say, you spend $100 in gift cards, the offer might be a “free” $20 gift card, as a bonus. This is a deal you can’t pass up.
Clip store and online coupons and KEEP them with you at all times. Having coupons handy, just in case you find a great bargain, even when you didn’t plan on shopping that day, can make a big difference. Can’t tell you how many times, I DIDN’T buy something because I’d left the coupon at home! Now, I keep a big envelope in my purse and try to go through them weekly, to keep them current.
In store… negotiate the price of an item. I’m not a pushy buyer, but I also won’t ever buy anything for the full price. If I have a coupon with me, I’ll always ask the cashier, if she has a better coupon for that day. One time my discount jumped from 15% to 30% off… a huge savings, just because I asked. Just yesterday at Macy’s, I had a coupon for 20% and I saw the woman in line ahead of me with 25% coupon. When I reached the counter, I simply asked the cashier where the shopper got the coupon, and she gave me the bigger discount as well. I saved a lot of money on those purchases! Motto: never hurts to ask.
Black Friday Secrets - There is all this hoopla about Black Friday shopping. Me? I’d never wait outside on a cold night for a store to open on Thanksgiving eve or in the wee hours of Friday morn for a sale. One, I cook for 18 on Thanksgiving and am bushed. And secondly, it’s not necessary. Yes, I might miss out on getting a Flat Screen TV or a Food Processor for half price, but if that wasn’t my initial goal, then I don’t need to brave the crowds and in some cases, risk my life and limbs, for a bargain.
A little known fact is, most of the Black Friday deals continue all day long (not talking big items with scant stock on hand here) and stores stay open late on that Friday night too. That’s when I’ve shopped and, oh BTW, no crowds, no trouble parking. This season, I went to Babies R US on Friday night at 8 pm and purchased a high chair for 50% off. I’d been tracking this item for a month and this was the VERY best deal in town. No hassles. Walk in, buy it, walk out. So if you’re one to say NEVER on Black Friday, reconsider shopping later in the day or in the evening.
Cyber Monday Deals – are great! Do your online research. Sign up with your favorite stores and they’ll automatically send you coupons, BOGO and other great deals. But don’t despair if you missed Cyber Monday…once you sign up, you’ll continue to get deals offered to you at great prices. This Monday, I bought a Baby Einstein piano priced in the stores, at over $50… but one site offered first time, NEW customers 40% off coupon... I grabbed that deal and the item was shipped free to me within 2 days. It’s here now, waiting to be wrapped.
Many stores extend their cyber deals for the entire week. Cyber Monday only starts the online shopping craze…IMHO. I’ve been getting great deals all week long from online stores.
*Another thing I stumbled upon, is that when I’ve gotten halfway through an item purchase on a Online Store site, and I change my mind, get knocked off, or simply got distracted and didn’t complete the sale, that store often sends me an email reminder with an EVEN BETTER deal, to get me to complete my transaction. Have any of you noticed this? Sometimes, it’s a price reduction and sometimes, it’s an offer for free shipping that wasn’t there originally. Usually, if the offer is good, I’ll finish the transaction.
If you’re a late shopper and missed out on all of the above, on December 17th, certain online stores have FREE SHIPPING DAY. Best Buy and L.L. BEAN for sure, while others like Kohl’s and Amazon plus oodles more, might have a minimum balance for free shipping, but they guarantee delivery before Christmas.
AND BONUS EIGHT:
Wrap as you go...you'll thank yourself for this insight! A few gifts a day...keeps the "wrapping frenzy" away. Then have yourself a sip of tea or a glass wine, to celebrate your shopping success!
Enjoy the holiday shopping season!!