Holiday season is in the air! Have you started thinking about Christmas or Hanukkah shopping? Between gifts, parties, and social functions, this can feel like one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year. But how can you score holiday savings to help your budget?
Today I’ll be sharing some simple ways to save money on gifts. Put these into action and see your bills shrink!
Make a List and Check it Twice
While this idea isn’t glamorous, it’s a pragmatic way to save money. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for along with gift ideas and a budget for each. You may also want to tally up the cost of your entire list and then cut back on individual gifts if it’s coming in too high.
This exercise will keep you focused, on track, and helps prevent overspending.
Take Advantage of Sales and Holiday Savings
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it involves some planning. While Black Friday used to be an American thing, it’s quickly becoming a big sale day in Canada too! Cyber Monday (the Monday following American Thanksgiving) is also a great time to shop for gifts online. These tend to be the best shopping days of the holiday season for scoring great deals.
This year, Black Friday is Friday, November 24th and Cyber Monday is Monday, November 27th. Mark your calendars! Set reminders! Do whatever you need to do to take advantage of these sales.
Black Friday weekend flyers are almost always leaked or made available the week before. Read through them to find items on your list, and make a plan for what to buy when and from where. I love using the Flipp app on my phone since I can search a ton of flyers for a specific item to find the best price.
I prefer shopping online wherever I can. There are no crowds and I can score greater savings through cash back sites (more on that next!) To take full advantage of online sales and prevent out of stocks, I often load my cart early. Then I can check out once the sales go live. This is particularly useful if you’re planning on staying awake until midnight to place your orders online.
If you miss Black Friday weekend, don’t fret! Subscribe to your favourite store’s online newsletter for updates, or check their social media for sale information. Chances are they will have some type of offer happening in the month of December.
(And check out my post The Best Advice for Scoring Epic Black Friday Discounts for more tips!)
No matter whether your gifts are on sale, comparing prices can save you money. A quick Google search of your gift will help you shop around without having to leave your couch! Don’t forget to factor in coupons, discounts, duties, fees, and shipping costs to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
Shop Online With Cash Back Sites
My favourite way to score holiday savings is shopping online using cash back sites. They let you earn cash back on most purchases, regardless of whether the retailer is already offering promotions or discounts. Ebates (Ebates.ca/Ebates.com) and Giving Assistant are a few sites you may have heard of.
How It Works
Cash back sites receive a commission from the retailers you shop from, and then pass a portion of the commission back to you. Let’s say you spend $100 at Gap through Ebates and Ebates is currently offering 5% cash back at Gap. Your Ebates cash back account will increase by $5 once the purchase is complete. Ebates can do this because they earn a commission greater than 5% from Gap. (Note that this is a fictional example, but it illustrates the point!)
Simply create an account and start saving. Before buying ANYTHING online, check your cash back sites to see if they offer cash back and if so, which one has the highest rate. I shop a lot on Etsy, for example, and Giving Assistant offers 4% back on all Etsy purchases which is better than Ebates (normally 1% cash back). But, Ebates will sometimes offer up to 12% cash back at Etsy so I always check out all three sites before purchasing.
If you were shopping on Etsy, you’d search for them on Ebates and then click the red “Shop Now” button. It will then take you to Etsy but with a tracking code to tell Etsy you were sent by Ebates. Etsy will then credit Ebates for your sale which Ebates will pass along to you, at least partially.
It’s similar with Giving Assistant. Again, after creating an account, you’d search for Etsy on the Giving Assistant website. Once you find it, Click the red “Shop Now” button and you’ll be taken to Etsy.
In either case, you can do all your shopping on Etsy, fill your cart, and before check out look into cash back options. Find the cash back rates at the sites you’ve joined, then click “Shop Now” from your site of choice!
It’s completely legitimate and free, and I’ve earned almost $600 cash back from the sites I use!
My Favourite Sites
While I’m Canadian, I have accounts with Ebates.ca, Ebates.com, and Giving Assistant. All three will make payments to Canadians, and I like having the choice! I’d recommend signing up for all three as you can and finding the best rates for each purchase. (You can also check out my Ebates Review and Giving Assistant Review for more information!)
And if you’re interested in learning even more about how to use cash back sites, check out my post about them!
Use Coupons and Discounts
Stacking savings is every shopper’s dream! While couponing can get a bad reputation, there are efficient ways to find codes and discounts. Sites like RetailMeNot.ca and RetailMeNot.com are fantastic for finding coupons for use in store and online. You can also search Google for “[store] coupon code”, “[store] promo code” and wording like that to find discounts.
With some advance planning and strategy, you can make the holidays much less costly. Leave me a comment below with your favourite gift shopping hack!
P.P.S. Received some gifts yourself? My post on how to make the most of your holiday gifts has you covered!