(Family Features) Between navigating stores, searching for items at the top of wish lists, and preparing for inevitable delays and last-minute requests, shopping for the holidays can make the most wonderful time of the year one of the most stressful times as well.
Even though the holidays seem to creep up faster and faster every year, and inflation adds an additional worry, there is still hope for your budget this season. To help reduce stress and avoid overspending on gifts, consider these money-saving tips from Regina Conway, consumer expert for Slickdeals, a one-of-a-kind online community of shoppers working together to shop smarter and save more.
Avoid procrastinating. Due to shifting shopping habits, there may be excess inventory in certain categories such as home goods. While it’s possible categories with extra inventory may see deep discounts later in the holiday season, don’t expect every item you want to be available at the last minute.
Set your budget with hidden costs in mind. When setting budgets, many people stop at the number they think they’ll spend on gifts alone. Make sure to factor in additional costs such as child or pet care services, shipping fees, and travel costs so there are no surprises.
Tap into technology. Whether shopping for toys and technology or travel and home goods, starting your search by visiting a site like Slickdeals can help you find the best deals this holiday season. Deals from top retailers are vetted and voted on by a community of 12 million shoppers working together to save to help ensure you’re getting the best products at the best prices. You can also set Deal Alerts to be notified when a deal matching your criteria gets posted.
Buy online, pick up in-store. Where available – including at many big box retailers – shopping online and then picking up your purchases in-store (or curbside for even more convenience) can help you avoid paying shipping fees and confirm your items will arrive on time. Some retailers even offer exclusive discounts for curbside or in-store pickup.
Take advantage of membership programs. If you haven’t been a member before, many retailers that offer memberships allow for free trials to test the perks, which often include free shipping. However, remember to cancel the trial before it auto-subscribes you for a full year. If you’ve previously done a trial, consider buying just a one-month membership to take advantage of the benefits during the holiday shopping season.
Abandon your shopping cart. When shopping online, add items you’re interested in your cart, go through the checkout process to the point where the retailer has your email address then simply close the browser or tab. Often, if you have not shopped from the site previously, the retailer will send you a discount code or coupon to incentivize your purchase decision.
Stock up on discounted gift cards. Taking advantage of discounted gift card sites is a simple way to save some cash on holiday purchases. Not only can you give a gift card you bought at a discount as a gift, you can also use it to shop. Just be sure not to overbuy or you may end up wasting unused cards.
Ask for a price match or adjustment. If you bought something and find a lower price within a week of that purchase, ask the retailer for a price adjustment. While this typically won’t work with special promotions, many stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, will price match during the holiday season. If you’re shopping in-store, take your smartphone with you and ask for the retailer to match online pricing, which can sometimes be a better deal. Asking for this match can save you time and money on shipping fees you might incur ordering online.
Check return policies. Many retailers offer extended return windows during the holiday shopping season. Make sure you look at the details of retailers’ policies to ensure you understand how much time you have to make returns and don’t have to pay return shipping or other unexpected costs.
Find more tips to get the best deals on holiday gifts at Slickdeals.net.