>> Friday, December 7, 2012
With the holiday season already in full swing, most of you have probably started shopping for friends and loved ones, or at least begun to look. Just remember that it’s never too late to plan ahead and make your trips both fruitful and budget-friendly. Not sure where to start? Here are some excellent tips for saving big, even in the chaos and temptation that is holiday shopping.
1. Read the Ads
The Sunday paper usually comes with a whole mess of advertisements, especially during the holiday season. If you don’t normally get the paper, buying the Sunday edition is a great way to see what most major retailers in your area are offering and for what price. It’s bargain-hunting from your couch.
2. Clip the Coupons
You’ve seen those extreme couponers on TV, right? They bought two weeks’-worth of groceries for two dollars. Your savings might not be quite that grand, but cutting out pertinent coupons is certainly a viable way to save, whether it’s 20 percent off at your favorite departments store or buy one get one free bags of frozen shrimp for party snacks.
3. Use the Internet
The web is a seemingly endless source of savings, whether you’re doing the bulk of your shopping on Amazon or simply going to websites and signing up for their mailing lists, which usually include coupons, coupon codes and special sale times or sales limited to mailing list recipients – all in your inbox.
4. It’s All About Timing
If you’re normally locked into shopping on the weekend, consider taking a personal day or sick day (we won’t tell) on a weekday, and then get to your shopping outlet early. Not only are you avoiding major weekend crowds, you’re getting salespeople who have just begun their day, can give you ample attention should you require assistance and will most likely be more pleasant to interact with in general.
5. Create Your Battle Plan
Before you head out, make like Napoleon and create a plan of attack. Make a list of everyone that you need to buy for and include as much detail as possible: gifts that are definite, plus where to find them and for how much, or simply ideas and a budget. Go one further and chart out an itinerary as well, so that you’re making the most of your time and even saving gas.
6. Dress for Success
Dressing in layers is advisable, as enclosed shopping areas tend to get rather hot (consider leaving your big, bulky winter coat in the car), and the hotter you get, the more uncomfortable you are, and the more likely you’ll be to pull out one of your cool checks and write it out for the first thing yuu see, regardless of price – anything to get out of the stifling heat. Avoid that trap and keep your cool, literally.