Whether you’re filled with anticipation or dread when it comes to holiday shopping, it’s usually a necessary task this time of year.
And, if you’re not careful about your spending, holiday shopping can wreak havoc on your budget or worse yet, lead to mounting debt.
Luckily, we’ve got some shopping hacks to help you avoid putting a damper on your holiday mood and bank account. Here are 8 ways to get the best holiday deals this shopping season.
1. Go Incognito
Here’s a sneaky fact you may not be aware of: Prices you see online can vary based on your location or previous shopping history.
For example, if you’re browsing in an area with an affluent zip code or one with less competition from a retailer, you may end up spending more for the same item than someone in another zip code.
To get around this, do all of your online shopping in incognito mode. Your browser history won’t be tracked, and you can shop with confidence that you won’t be charged more based on your interests or location.
2. Set Up Price Alerts
Whether you’re looking to snag the best deal on holiday flights or the latest electronics, you no longer have to stalk your favorite websites every day to see when prices drop.
Many online retailers give you the option to set up notifications so you can see the lowest prices for items you have your eye on.
Simply enter your email and wait for alerts with the latest pricing. Be sure to trust your gut and be on the lookout for fraud. If you notice prices are increasing weekly, it’s probably best to buy before the prices get out of your range.
And, if something looks too good to be true, that may just be the case. So make sure you do your research before you plunk down your credit card.
3. Save on Shipping
Even when you find a great deal, holiday shipping costs can put a major dent in your budget.
There are a few ways, however, to save money on shipping and still get all of your items in time. Planning ahead is always the best option, as you can choose free shipping or the lowest-cost without the risk of your items arriving too late.
However, if you miss the window for cheaper shipping, you can try having items sent to a physical retail location if possible. Simply purchase your items online and plan to pick them up from a nearby location at no extra charge. While you will have to take out time to make the trip, it can definitely be a budget-friendly alternative to paying an additional $10-$20 for the convenience of home delivery.
4. Get Cashback on Purchases
If you’re not already using apps like Rakuten to get cashback on your purchases, now is the time to start. You can get one to 18% cashback on everything from clothes to accessories to hotel accommodations.
There’s also a $10 cash bonus for new users, as well as bonuses for referring your family and friends. When you’re already in shopping mode for the holidays, this is a no-brainer to save a few extra bucks.
5. Use Price Protection
While you could once count on your credit card to offer price protection if the cost of an item dropped right after making a purchase, this is a perk some credit card companies are beginning to do away with.
Not to worry though. As with almost anything these days, if you’re in need of price protection, there’s an app for that. One to check out is Earny, which will take care of all the heavy lifting for you. Simply download the app, link the email address you use for purchases, and Earny will scan your receipts and file a claim on your behalf if the price of an item drops with a participating retailer.
6. Look for Coupons
When you think about coupons, you might imagine sitting at your kitchen table for hours, carefully scouring sales ads and physically clipping each coupon from every page.
However, with deal sites like Groupon, couponing doesn’t have to be so time-consuming.
With Groupon, you can find sweet deals from local retailers on dining, entertainment, spa services, and more. It’s a great way to save money and discover fun local attractions to check out!
7. Don’t Buy Right Away
Like most holiday shoppers, you probably have a million things on your to-do list. Your instincts might be to fly through the online checkout process as quickly as possible so you can move onto your next task.
Not so fast!
With some online retailers, you might be offered an additional discount if you close out your browser before completing a purchase. So, go ahead and try this. Then, wait a day or two to see whether you get an email with an incentive to finish checking out. This nifty little trick could land you some extra holiday savings.
8. Ask for Price Matching
Whether you’re shopping online or at a store with a physical location, you can try asking the retailer if they’re willing to match the price of the same item from another store.
Most retailers are happy to get your business from a competitor, so it never hurts to ask.
Keep in mind that every retailer doesn’t have a price match policy, so don’t be discouraged if they turn down your request. It should also go without saying to only ask for a price match if you’ve really seen a lower price for the item elsewhere. So, be sure to have a screenshot or copy of the sales ad on hand when you make your request.
Enjoy a No-Fee Holiday Shopping Season
The holidays are meant for fun and spending time with loved ones.
The last thing you need is the stress of overdraft or service fees. So, while you’re holiday shopping, lower your stress by choosing a bank account with no-hidden-fees!