By the time you read this the annual holiday shopping season will be underway. Yes, you haven’t even picked out your Thanksgiving turkey yet, but that’s not stopping your favorite retailers from decking their halls and putting out all of the holiday merchandise for those looking to shop early. And there are plenty of folks who are taking advantage of this time. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales from November to the end of December topped almost $580 billion, and experts are predicting a larger shopping season for 2013.
What this means for you is a potential for early-shopping discounts, reduction on delivery charges for online items, and a more relaxing December after you finish picking up the last gift before Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, you can’t go at this process willy-nilly. You still need to plan, browse for the best prices, and, most important of all, maintain a strict budget. Many folks who maintain a household budget for the first 10 months of the year throw it out with the trash come the holiday season. This leads to some tight financial situations when the new year rolls around. The best way to avoid these temptations is to follow the below tips.
Make a list – Like you do when you go grocery shopping, having a list of needed holiday gifts is essential to keep your impulse buys to a minimum. Should you be shopping for your family members, sit down with your spouse and children to figure out the best amount of gifts for everyone, including relatives outside the home. In addition, determine what you’re going to give your friends and co-workers well ahead of time.
Do your research – Don’t go into a store or shop a website without doing some research on current pricing, taxes, and potential shipping costs. Some online retailers may wave shipping fees for larger purchase or sales closer to the holidays while others do neither. Scan sites like Amazon or Overstock.com to see if they have the same items for lower prices.
Try Craigslist and eBay – You’ll be surprised at what you can find for your friends and family at these two sites. For example, a few years ago I was able to get a Nintendo DS and several games on Craigslist for around $100. You can also find great deals on eBay and the other auction sites. Just remember — buyer beware. Do some research on the person you’re buying from at eBay to see if they have any complaints.
Avoid Black Thursday and Friday crowds – Oh sure, the stores in your area promote door-buster deals as part of their after Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales, but it requires you to get to the location several hours early, cram into the store with several hundred of your friends, and wait in one spot for more hours until the store reveals the small amount of items available at their deep discount. In the end, it may not be worth it and it’ll delay you from making your other purchases. If you must shop during Black Friday, do so in front of your computer with a cup of coffee. The deals retailers offer its shoppers may be the same online as they are in their brick-and-mortar stores.