Whether we want to believe it or not, it's already time for holiday shopping. Halloween hasn't arrived yet and we haven't enjoyed our Thanksgiving turkey, but that hasn't stopped retailers from putting out Christmas decorations and running ads about Christmas shopping.
Just the other day when I was in Walmart to get a sketchbook I became distracted by the cutest Disney ornaments. Although I didn't purchase any ornaments (yet), the display reminded me to begin thinking about holiday shopping for the kids and, ultimately, this post to share with you. If you're like me you may not be ready to begin shopping for the holidays, but you are going to have to get over it (I did!) so you can save some money.
Here are 6 ways to save money during the holiday season:
- Shop early. I know this is a tried and true tip, but it never hurts to mention it. I know I need a reminder every year because I'm one of those individuals who waits until the end of November before I start shopping - sometimes later. In fact, it's seeing the ornaments on display that fueled me to get organized and start shopping.
- Use layaway. If you wait until the last minute layaway is not going to help you. In the long run, you're more likely to spend more money because all the deals are gone and there won't be as many things to choose from. This is especially important if you're looking for specialty or popular items. How long do you think Disney's Frozen products will last? Or Star Wars? Get it now before it's too late and put it on layaway. You'll be able to pay on it over the next two months and pick it up when you're ready to wrap gifts. I started a layaway for the children a couple of days ago. (The bike pictured above is the same brand (Huffy) and similar to the one I'm telling you about.)
- Shop during sales. Thanks to a sale (or in this instance, a rollback at Walmart) and layaway, I was able to put three bicycles away for my children. I really scored with one, which was more than $90 and because of a stain on the seat I'm getting it for $70. ($88 on rollback plus percentage off for stain!) I may add a couple of other items to the layaway, but at least I have the big things taken care of and the purchase price will be more manageable over the next two months.
- Earn cash back. If you're going to shop online, it only makes sense to shop through a site where you earn cash back. The one I use is Ebates, which is free and easy to use. You can use this resource in a few ways, but I do one of two things each time I shop. a) click on a store's link directly from the site. b) activate the Ebates toolbar and click "activate coupons" when it pops up on a retailer's site. Each store's percentage off is a bit different. For instance, Kohl's was 3% cash back and recently they raised it to 6%. You can use your cash back to buy yourself something special or put that money in your savings account for next year or an upcoming birthday.
- Earn gift cards. This may not appeal to everyone, but if you waste any time during your day why not spend it earning gift cards. I use Swagbucks and MyPoints. They're pretty simple to use; utilize their search engines, take surveys and read offers to earn points. Once your points are earned you can then cash them in for gift cards to popular retailers. I've earned gift cards from them as well as Bing. You just have to investigate them and see which works best for you.
- Save your pennies. Choose a savings program that works for you. I'm sure you're aware of them. For instance, save $1 the first week, $2 the next week, $3 the next and so on - know what I'm referring to? My oldest daughter and I chose an easy one. Starting with a penny on the first day we just add a penny for each subsequent day. If you started on October 1st you'd have 15 cents by today.