Holiday Gift Prep: How to Shop Smart and Save More

in SHORTCUTS

By Bethany Johnson

Saving money has always been, and will always be, on the top of my hectic to-do list during the holiday season. If you’re like me and you eagerly scout out tips for saving money and making the most generous impact with less, you’ll be happy to hear that retailers are finally meeting us halfway, offering creative new ways to help consumers shop smart while still delighting everyone on their list. Check out the following tips to make the most of your shopping experience:

Get Inspired

Before hitting the stores, start brainstorming early by searching online. That way, you won’t spend hours (and precious gas money) running around town searching fruitlessly. Pinterest has always been my go-to for idea generation, but retail sites are getting savvy and launching their own inspiration engines. Wayfair, the site I used to furnish my new home, surprised me recently by offering up room-by-room inspiration. For my fellow work-at-home mom friends, I navigated to the “office ideas” area and was delighted to find thoughtful gifts for every professional personality imaginable. I added a super chic, vintage-style desk lamp to my idea board for a colleague and crossed her off my list.

Deciding what to get friends and family members is often the hardest part about holiday shopping, and hitting the stores without a plan is a quick route to overspending.

Let Brands Compete for Your Business

A few smart sites have correctly identified the consumer predicament: We want to select creative gifts, enjoy a fun shopping experience, and buy from stores we already trust—all without spending a fortune.

Or leaving the couch.

Or even rifling through our purses to find a credit card.

Shoppers have come to expect certain things, and there are a few stores positioned to deliver. Sites like SHOP.COM compare items from all the departments in every store you already love, like Target, Kohl’s, and Walmart, all in one place. If a lower-priced Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is more appealing to you than the one with quick shipping (that will likely come in handy as Christmas draws near), you have the choice to go for the less expensive toy. Another option is to add the item to your “price alerts” list. The site will automatically let you know when the toy has been discounted to the amount you prefer to pay.

…and Compete Some More

Other sites, like Zulily, go a step further and do the comparison shopping for you. They offer up only what they deem the best deal, so the mental work is done. The Zulily app also gives you intel on which products will be available before they go live. Last season, PCMag.com published a list of the seven best price comparison apps, including how to shop smart with Walmart’s “Savings Catcher” feature. Check out each option so you know you’re getting the best one—before you start shopping.

Evolve with the Coupons

In previous generations, clipping coupons was a great way to score deals. Often, stores lost money on a product by giving customers a killer deal. They knew that once a consumer was in-store, they were likely to buy more—so coupons were a win-win. Today’s version of the same is often dished out in the form of promo codes, and those are nearly always reserved for email list subscribers.

When it comes to today’s tips for saving money, an easy choice is to sign up for e-newsletters from brands that promise to keep you in the loop, like the Newegg’s Daily Deals list, a roundup of sale goodies that you can then combine with promo codes for the ultimate bargain.

Now that’s how to shop smart without leaving the couch.

This holiday season, let the experts do the price comparison for you. Sites like Shop.com offer deals on the same item side-by-side so you can decide. Click here to buy your choice of smart deals on the Vtech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker toy.

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