Holiday shopping has become a multi billion-dollar industry. This year, consumers are expected to spend between $678.75 billion and $682 billion on holiday shopping — a 3.6 to 4 percent increase from last year, according to forecasts by the National Retail Foundation (NRF). But just because many people are spending a lot doesn't mean you have to. We've got a list of some suggestions to save you not just money, but stress, during the holidays. Here's what to do.
Make a list (and check it twice)
"It's easier to take advantage of discounts for the holidays when you already know about what you want to buy and spend," says Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews. "That way, when these sales happen, you can actually jump on [them]." So, make sure you've planned out who you're buying for, what you're willing to spend and a general sense of what you're looking for; you can keep your eyes peeled for sales to take advantage of. It's also important to pay attention to where you want a specific brand/model (for example, an Apple Watch) and where you can be brand-agnostic (for example, a blue sweater), says John Lal, CEO of BeFrugal.com. Brand flexibility often means more price flexibility, and you can incorporate this into your budget. Even if you're not sure about how much each item will end up costing you after sales, try to come up with a ballpark figure. "An approximate budget is way better than no budget at all," says Lal.
Consider cash-back and coupons
If you're primarily an online shopper, shopping portals (also called cash-back websites) are definitely something to consider. Here's how they work: The websites get more advertising revenue the more people they bring in, and they provide some of that cash back to site visitors. As a user, you go to a portal's website — Ebates is probably the most well-known — and set up an account.Then, before your next purchase, you visit the portal, then click through it to access your chosen store. If you buy something while logged in, it'll add money to your account. (Note that it usually takes one to three months for your check to show up after spending.)
Credit card companies and airlines usually have portals, as well. As for comparing portal-to-portal: Cashback Monitor is a good tool for finding out which shopping portal offers the highest "base percentage" back on that particular day for purchases at your chosen stores, says Greg Davis-Kean, author and founder of The Frequent Miler.gi
Know what to buy when
- Thanksgiving Day: Sakraida calls Thanksgiving "hands-down the best day for TV deals" now that stores have started releasing their sales earlier. DealNews expects 4K televisions to drop prices almost as low as 1080p televisions of the same size. Consumers could save 30 to 50 percent, likely at stores including Best Buy and Dell. As for kitchen appliances, Thanksgiving Day will probably trumpet sales for blenders, mixers and coffeemakers from brands like Cuisinart and KitchenAid; Keurig coffee makers; Instant Pots; cookware sets and other kitchen tools. At venues like Amazon, Walmart, Kohl's and Macy's, shoppers could save up to 70 percent on certain items.
- Black Friday: If you're looking for classic toys, Black Friday is your best bet for savings like 40 to 50 percent. But if you're not ready to purchase at that point, you'll have another bite at the apple. Prices will likely drop the same amount or further during the week before Christmas, says Sakraida (though hot toys may be in short supply). Keep in mind that many electronics deals from Thanksgiving Day will also continue into Black Friday.
- Cyber Monday: Many clothing brands, beauty items, shoes and accessories will slash prices up to 60 percent on Cyber Monday, and Sakraida says even brands that don't usually offer discounts like Tarte and Kiehl's could drop prices 30 to 40 percent. If you're looking for a laptop, Cyber Monday is also your best bet — especially at places like Best Buy, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Microsoft. Bargain laptops could drop to $110, and mainstream laptops could drop to $300, according to DealNews.
With Hayden Field