The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start making a shopping list (and checking it twice – sorry, we couldn’t resist). Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, holiday parties, offices soirees, and general festivities will have you bringing wrapped packages to the people you love in your life over the next few weeks. If you’re someone who finds their shopping list gets longer and longer each year, then landing great deals in the mayhem is of utmost importance.
The real problem isn’t finding discounts – it’s zeroing in on the perfect deals for exactly what you want, and scoring them while they’re still available. Sales expire, special offers pop up in different places at unexpected times, and coordinating the shopping season with your daily life can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll share some smart tips to help prepare you for the shopping season by bringing it all back to the good old shopping list. Being organized is key if you want to save big.
Make A Shopping List
No matter how well versed you are in shopping, you must still start with a shopping list. Don’t commit your list to memory and don’t leave it at home. A shopping list does two things. First, it it gives you a sense of budget. Even if you don’t know exactly what you will be buying yet, you can estimate how much you’re willing to spend on each person. That ballpark figure is important because without it, money will slip through your fingers. A few dollars here, $20 there, and soon enough you’ve spent a significant chunk of change on unnecessary treats without actually buying the gifts you came out for. Understandably, retailers love shoppers without a plan. Don’t be one of them.
Secondly, a shopping list keeps you focused on the deals that matter. Remember, it’s only a good deal if it’s something you wanted to get in the first place. Here’s where an app like Any.do can really help you, especially if you’re sharing shopping duties with your spouse or family:
- Make a “Holiday Shopping List” using Any.do on your iPhone, Android, or computer
- Add items and giftees to the list, and include ballpark budgets for each
- Share your list with your spouse or family via the app – if you update the list, it will automatically be updated on their lists too
- Assign gift buying duties to each person so you can coordinate shopping
- Use the Notes feature to share updates, changes, and messages with each other
- You can read more on how to use Any.do for shopping lists here
As you start researching deals and retailers, add them to your Any.do list so everyone knows exactly where to look when it comes time to buy.
Start Your Shopping Early
Earlier is better. The beginning of December is the best time, and there are some ‘secret’ shopping dates below that you should always be aware of. Miss your window and you may end up spending more than you bargained for (no pun intended).
Free Shipping Day
Free Shipping Day is December 18th, and it’s a magical day indeed. Many retailers including REI, J. Crew, and JustFab often take part.
That means free shipping, no minimum, and delivery by Christmas Eve. Visit FreeShippingDay.com for a full list of websites, and even sign up for an email reminder on the 18th (or just mark it in Cal, Any.do’s companion calendar app). Our best tip to take advantage of free shipping is to have all your chosen items already in your online cart, so when the day arrives you’re ready to purchase without hassle.
Bonus Tip: Leaving items in your online cart can payoff on regular days, too. Shop in the morning and leave your cart full without making the final purchase. Oftentimes retailers will see that you’ve abandoned your cart and send you a small discount or free shipping offer in order to get you to buy.
Other Secret Days
There are certain days in the month of December during which many retailers offer even deeper discounts. December 1st, and December 11th through 18th are when you should be comparison shopping for holiday gifts. This is when online and brick-and-mortar shops offer some of their best deals, and you’ll likely be able to find the biggest discounts of the season.
Mark them on your calendar – these are the days to make your shopping list count.
Don’t Overlook The Standards
There are sites that will always have great pricing, and you should vet your other purchases against them to make sure you’re truly getting a great value. Before handing over your cash, check prices on tried-and-true standards like Groupon, Amazon, and WalMart.com to be certain you’re indeed getting a fantastic price.
Black Friday Online
Increasingly, Black Friday isn’t happening in the store so much as it’s happening online. As Black Friday deals blur into Cyber Monday, and sometimes even go on for an entire week after that, it serves you to shop online rather than in store. Save your sanity and some extra bucks at the same time.
Doorbuster deals are just that – deals to get people through the door. Don’t be fooled. Many doorbusters are merely available “while supplies last” or come with special conditions. Unless you’re ready to bust out a floor map and break in your running shoes, you may be better off staying at home with your laptop.
Gif Card Deals
Yes, even gift cards can be bought at a discount. Sites like giftcardgranny.com can save you up to 70% on other peoples’ unwanted (but perfectly good) gift cards.
You can also head over to your local warehouse club like Costco to get multi-pack gift cards, usually $100 worth for $80, and easily mark off a few people at a time on your shopping list.
You can post your shopping list and items to Pinterest and use their Price Drop Alert feature to find great deals as they happen. Pinterest will send you alerts on items you’ve pinned whenever the price drops, keeping you informed of new deals and steals as they’re made available. Now your wish list is also your savings guide. Easy discounts without extra work, just how you like it.
Check The News
Don’t forget that many news websites will also dedicate time and research to finding you the best deals. Do a Google News search for the items you’re looking for, or simply look up “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday” or “Holiday Shopping Deals” to get lists and price comparisons for things like TVs, electronics, kid’s toys, and clothing.
Websites like consumerreports.org will also help you find the best possible deals, or do a regular Google search for shopping comparison websites to get some great lists worth checking.
So now you’ve got the skills you need to put your holiday shopping list to work. Make everyone happy while knowing you didn’t overpay for anything this year.
Go forth and be merry.