Save On Holiday Shopping

This year maybe more than most, shoppers are looking to save as much money as possible on their holiday gifts. Why? Take your pick: high gas prices, a rollercoaster stock market, the weak dollar, pessimism about the economy, the housing/subprime loan mess. Whatever the reason, many people will be looking to spend less and yet still find gifts for everyone on their list. Yahoo Finance has some hints on how to get more for your money this holiday season including:

  • Consider a store credit card.

  • Sign up for email newsletters and updates.
  • Join rewards programs.
  • Shop online.
  • Watch for gift-card promotions.

You could also always play “chicken” with retailers…

In past years, a questionable economy means retailers are more willing to discount merchandise and to make those savings larger than normal. If this plays out, the longer you wait, the better prices you’ll get. Then again, you may wait too long and find your preferred gift items out of stock. Anyone for buying now and then returning items if they drop drastically in price?

How to Save the Most While Holiday Shopping [Yahoo Finance]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Rando says:

    When you’re watching your spending the last thing you want is a store credit card. I’m not suprised Yahoo would say such a thing, but consumerist…? Interesting.

  2. CanadianDominic says:

    These seem like pretty terrible “tips.”

  3. dirtymoney says:

    How about just not participating in the maddness?

    Long ago I stopped participating in events that the majority take part in. And a BIG event is christmas.

    I used to take part in all this crap because as “normal americans” you are somehow supposed to….. and if you dont then you are somehow “wrong” or “abnormal” & someone to be scorned, looked down upon & be punished.

    I got so pissed/stressed at all the miserable social obligations that these events had become that I just said “F*ck it!” & just stopped celebrating christmas, birthdays, weddings, funerals and other events unless I genuinely wanted to participate in them…. and you have no idea how BETTER my life became as a result. I was happier, less stressed & saved a fortune!

    Now all I have to worry about is gas prices, winter/summer heating/cooling expenses & how they effect/compete with my life’s savings.

  4. ManicPanic says:

    Don’t forget that a lot of stores offer price adjustments within a couple of week timeframe…I bought something on jcrew.com and a week later the price went down so I printed out the page showing the new price and took the invoice down the to the store–they fixed it no problem.

    That is an option for anyone who doesn’t want to “watch” an item for the price to go down in fear that the store will run out.

  5. Quellman says:

    Store credit cards aren’t a bad idea.

    Pro- If you plan on spending a large sum of money at a given store, applying for their card usually means you can take 10-15% off your purchase that day. This comes in handy if you are going to spend all your money at one store, like the best buys, kohls, and JC Pennys of the world. $500 at 15% is $75. Some cards also get you coupons and other savings throughout the year on top of what sale is already offered. Naturally Pay off your balance. If you don’t want the yearly savings or having too much credit available, wait a while then close the account.

    Con- Trying to open one at every store you shop at strains your credit rating. Savings aren’t worth the time and effort to cancel. They may sell your information to junk mail distributors.

    Moral- one store per season. Make it the one where you spend the most and get the most % off.

  6. webwbr says:

    @Quellman: All your “pro” points are intended to get you to spend more $ — most likely on items you want, rather than need.

    I agree with many other comments — it seems odd that Consumerist would endorse these “money savings techniques”.

  7. BlondeGrlz says:

    Who are all these people buying gifts for?! I have a small family but the in-law side is huge. We just do a gift exchange, one present per person, plus one for each set of kids. Both sets of parents don’t “need” anything, so small, thoughtful, or homemade gifts are fine. My own siblings are even cheaper than me, so the only expensive gifts I buy are for my husband. And he knows perfectly well what we can and can’t afford. Now, I love Christmas, probably more than is normal or healthy, but I have never gotten myself into debt just to buy everyone a freakin iPod. I’ll admit that being childless makes this a lot easier, but I don’t plan to raise kids who think Santa brings them everything they can imagine. No ponies for my brats.

  8. Beerad says:

    I think “shop online” is the only good tip in that list. The others will leave you with even more junk mail and spam, credit cards you probably only use twice a year if that, and gift card issues (see plenty of other Consumerist posts for details).

  9. bohemian says:

    @dirtymoney

    I agree. Opting out of many of the social obligations will really lower your stress. We quit trying to go places on the holidays where that is deemed the thing to do, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving. The only reason we do any xmas type gifts if for our kids and occasionally for parents just to keep the peace.
    Everyone is totally burnt out on xmas this year at my place and I find it really nice. No stress. Were going to get a couple of presents for the kids and go out for Chinese.

    I already know what were buying on the very small list. I know I won’t find “deals” on any of it so I am just going to go pick it all up after next payday by ditching out to the mall during the day and then stash it until xmas.
    We seriously considered going to Vegas for the week of xmas just to avoid the entire thing.

  10. freshwater says:

    Opting out isn’t always an option. I tried it for a couple years,
    but found it caused more stress to try to opt out than to go along. My
    family is much more into Christmas than I am, so it causes discord if I
    don’t play my part and get everyone a gift.

    My solution is just to choose one type of present for the people on
    the list I’m not close to. I can spend time thinking about what I want
    to get my mom or my fiance, and everyone else gets a box of chocolates
    or some gourmet coffee.

    Who doesn’t like chocolate? It doesn’t cause clutter, and it means
    that have my gift list got taken care of in fifteen minutes, five bucks
    a pop, at the Russell Stover.

  11. freshwater says:

    ahem. -half- my gift list.

  12. Quellman says:

    @webwbr: Getting money off for a purchase you were going to make anyway seems like good sense to me. I think it goes to say if you don’t need it don’t buy it. But the rewards programs and coupons etc allow you to buy an item that you need sooner than later.
    use credit card everyday

  13. DrGirlfriend says:

    I think the store CC tip should come with certain caveats: *if* you are not using it to overextend yourself, and get raked over the coals later by having to pay the typically-high interest rate that store cards come with, *if* the savings to be had at that store are extensive, and *if* you pay it off immediately, then a store CC will probably save you quite a bit of money. Some stores offer discounts on top of existing sales to cardholders, and they also send coupons.

    My concern would be how much opening that card would ding your credit.

  14. HRHKingFriday says:

    Shopping online is key. For the younger folks, I’m getting them iTunes- no gift card is even necessary. The money or songs just show up in their account on Christmas.

    Also try potlucks and yankee gift games at holiday parties. I’ve got plenty of stuff to whip up a casserole and don’t mind bringing just one gift (instead of something for everyone)

  15. @BOHEMIAN

    “Opting out of many of the social obligations will really lower your stress” – seems to me it will also make you a cave troll. I’m all for me-time and the rugged individualism of the American spirit, but Jesus Creeping God – bowing out of most social functions seems like a well-greased road to isolation and dimentia.

    I’ll do part of my shopping online, because that’s where a lot of good deals are, but there’s something to be said about getting out there among the masses and mixing it up, “Christmas Story”-style. What’s the holidays if you’re holed up in your room, browing Amazon and avoiding a big turkey dinner with family?

  16. theblackdog says:

    These tips are as bad as when my credit card company thinks they’re doing me a favor by telling me I can “skip a payment” this month. Anyone who pays attention knows it’s so you’ll put more money on the card and then they’ll sock you for a higher finance charge.

    I have one store credit card, it’s the only one I need.

  17. Anitra says:

    @davelawrence8: I agree. Even in years where I’ve bought most of my gifts online, I like to go out to a mall or shopping area and just enjoy the Christmas-y atmosphere, usually about a week before Christmas.

    It’s a whole lot cheaper and less stressful than trying to decorate my whole house to get the same feeling.