by Kailey Hagen | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Oct. 22, 2020
Many or all of the products here are from our partners. We may earn a commission from offers on this page. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Don't let holiday costs ruin your holiday spirit.
The holiday season can always leave your budget feeling uncomfortably tight. This year, the season feels even more foreboding than normal thanks to COVID-19. But that doesn't change the fact that gifts still need buying. Here are a few smart shopping tips you can leverage to get everything on your list without taking on holiday debt.
Tips and tricks from the experts delivered straight to your inbox that could help you save thousands of dollars. Sign up now for free access to our Personal Finance Boot Camp.
By submitting your email address, you consent to us sending you money tips along with products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.
Starting early gives you more time to shop around for the items on your list. You can compare prices at multiple stores to see which offers the best value. You might even catch some sales -- deals that could vanish into thin air as we approach the traditional holiday shopping season.
Also, sometimes, in-demand items sell out as it gets close to the holidays. Starting early gives you better odds of actually finding what you need. If you wait until the holidays are almost upon you, it might be tougher to find everything on your list. And the few stores that still have what you want? Well, they may charge extra -- just because they can.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are usually the first holiday sales to come to most people's minds. But they're not the only big holiday sales. Stores can run sales at any time between now and the gift-giving holidays. You just have to watch for them.
Keep an eye out for ads about upcoming sales. Also, consider subscribing to your favorite stores' email newsletters. These can help you stay in the loop about current and upcoming promotions. As a bonus, the store may slip a few extra coupons your way.
Store newsletters are one place to find coupons, but you can also find them by doing a quick internet search. To save time when shopping online, consider a browser plug-in that automatically tests out all coupon codes for a given site. That way you don't have to try them all manually.
Check your credit card statements or online accounts for unused credit card points. Often, you can turn these into cash or gift cards. You can use that cash (or those gift cards) to buy your items -- or give it as a gift itself.
Using a rewards credit card to make your holiday purchases can help you rack up even more rewards, which you can put toward future purchases. Just make sure you don't charge more to your card than you can afford to pay back at the end of the month or you'll end up with costly debt.
Some popular retailers allow you to put items on layaway. To do this, you go to the store, fill your cart with all the things you want to buy, and then take it to the layaway department. Rather than paying for it all at once, you pay in regular installments. Once you've paid for the full amount, you return to the layaway department and pick up your purchases.
Every store has its own rules when it comes to layaways. Some charge fees and may require a down payment. Nevertheless, this is still a better option than racking up credit card debt.
Online shopping is convenient, but it sometimes involves pricey shipping costs. Sidestep these by shopping on websites that offer free shipping for orders of a specific amount (even some small businesses offer this perk). You can also look for websites that allow you to pick up your order in-store or at a local pick-up point for free or reduced shipping.
Of course, you can also shop in-person to reduce shipping costs. Just make sure to wear a face mask and shop at off-peak times to promote community health.
If you find a better deal on an item at one store, but you'd prefer to buy it at another because it's more convenient, see if the other store will match their competitor's price. This can save you from having to shop at dozens of different stores to find the best values.
Show proof of the competitor's lower price at your preferred retailer. Ask for a price match. Not all stores will comply, but some might to keep your business. Worst case scenario: The manager says no. And you'll never know until you try.
These holiday shopping tips aren't just useful in a pandemic year. Keep them in the back of your mind for future holiday seasons or for any time you need to do a lot of shopping. Even if it only saves you a few dollars, that's extra money you can keep in the bank or use to buy something nice for yourself.
If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card secures you a 0% intro APR into 2023! Plus, you’ll pay no annual fee. Those are just a few reasons why our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. Read The Ascent's full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2021 The Ascent. All rights reserved.