8 Tips To Save Money On Your Christmas Shopping

After the trauma some of our bank accounts have had this year, some of us are going to need all the help we can get this Christmas. If that is you, just keep on reading because I think some of these tips will make your Christmas shopping a little bit easier on the wallet.

1. Harness the power of user-generated reviews
If you are anything like me you want to get the best product you can for the money. Smart shoppers no longer base their buying decisions on whose advertisement they see the most. We want the product that its users are saying is great, rather than the company itself. This is one of the best things that Amazon.com has going for them. They probably have the largest database of user reviews. One or two reviews on a product don’t necessarily provide accurate info, but when you see something that has been reviewed by 300 people, you can assume that the law of averages will provide some decent info. Amazon.com – My favorite place to find lots of user-generated reviews. ConsumerReports.org – They are a not-for-profit company that reviews thousands of products and have no advertising in their magazine – therefore eliminating any potential conflicts of interest. They have an online subscription for $26 a year or $6 for a month of access. While they are not free, if you are making a sizeable purchase, they are probably worth the money. Epinions.com – They are decent, I have found that many products just don’t have enough reviews. Pricegrabber.com – They often don’t have as many reviews as Amazon does, but they have a nice interface and are worth checking out.

2. Let it sit overnight
After you picked out what you want from an online retail store, leave items in the shopping cart overnight. Some stores will send you a coupon for 10% off or free shipping to persuade you to complete your order.

3. Use a Cash-Back Debit Card
As you’ve probably heard me mention, I am loving the $50+ in rewards I am getting each month using my Perkstreet Financial debit card. And to help us save even more on our Christmas shopping they are offering 5% cash-back at some popular retailers like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, JC Penney, Sears and more.

4. Shop on Fridays
Shop on Fridays to get first dibs on sale items. Department stores normally post their sales online before they hit the racks on the weekend.

5. Get cash back for shopping online
There are sites you can go that will pay you a % back for items that you purchase if you click through their site first. I am sure that by now there are more of similar programs, but then two that I have used are Ebates and Live Cashback. Ebates – They have juts about every store you could want to purchase from and all you have to do is click the store’s link from the Ebates site and viola you will get 1 – 25% cash back. They mail out checks every 3 months. Live Cashback – Microsoft has a similar program with Live Cashback in which you can browse and find which merchant is selling your desired item at the best price, then on top of that, you get paid a % of that item’s price for using the service. I wrote about getting paid with CashBack as well.

6. Ebay works for Christmas gifts too!
From my experiences I often find that Ebay can get me the lowest possible price on a NEW item. The trick comes in when you have to decide whether it is worth spending $15 more to get a new monitor from a store that you can rely on. For example, I buy a lot of my computer related purchases from newegg.com because they are ridiculously fast, very cheap, and have a good return policy. So for larger things I tend to go to a more trusted source, but then again, sometimes you can save a lot of money with Ebay by not having that guarantee.

7. Search for promo-codes before buying
I have had some successes and failures with sites like these. The problem that some of them have is that they don’t pull off the expired coupon codes quick enough. You may have to dig through a few to find one that works, but all in all, it is probably worth the effort.

  • Retailmenot.com

  • Couponcode.com

  • Techbargains.com

  • Currentcodes.com

8. Get free shipping on everything
Amazon started a deal called Amazon Prime a couple years ago. You pay $119 a year and get unlimited free shipping from them. If you are going to be doing a lot of online shopping, especially big ticket items, this may be worth your while. Also, check out this Washington Post article, “How to get around Amazon Prime’s new $119 fee”.

Bob Mlynek