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No matter how much planning goes into your Holiday Budget or how much thought goes into your gift ideas, that can all go out the window as soon as you walk into a beautiful store at Christmas time.
Picture it with me...you walk into the store, it's warm, everything is shiny + new, then you see a sale sign...you're budget suddenly gets forgotten, you swipe the credit card, and drive home with buyer's remorse in the pit of your stomach.
I've been there too friend! ...but that's not going to be us this year! Let's get you a shopping plan!
After you've downloaded my FREE Printable Family Holiday Budget Planner, you'll want to set up your overall Holiday Budget, break down your gift budget per person, + then you'll want to establish a shopping plan!
For this Part 3 of my Christmas on a Budget Series (Find the rest of the series here!), I want to share with you a few of my favorite shopping tips that have helped me stay on budget the past 4 Christmases.
My favorite 27 shopping tips:
1. Make a gift budget before you even start shopping
This is really step 0 because this needs to be done way before you start actually shopping. This should be something you decide while sitting quietly at home...not in the middle of Target at 5:00 AM on Black Friday!
2. Take your budget with you
Not only do you need to decide on each person's gift budget, but you have to actually take your worksheet with you while you're shopping so you'll stay on track.
3. Come up with a shopping plan
Beforehand you'll want to write out each person's gift idea, which stores you want to shop at, expected price to pay, and other notes like what day or time the item goes on sale.
4. Shop at stores that offer free shipping (Check out The Krazy Coupon Lady's list) Most online stores will offer free shipping after you spend a certain amount of money. Don't use this as an excuse to over-spend but rather use it for your benefit. By creating a plan ahead of time you'll be able to batch your shopping so you can take advantage of these kinds of freebies.
For example, if you want to buy clothes for a few people of your list jump over and buy them all from Old Navy, spend $50, + enjoy free shipping...no need to shop at 5 different stores and pay shipping 5 different times.
5. Don't pay for fast shipping
Another perk of planning ahead is not having to waste money on expedited shipping because you waited until the week before Christmas to shop. Plan ahead, shop as early as possible, + don't over pay for shipping.
6. Buy Gift Cards for yourself to shop with
This is one of favorite tips, and I actually use this tip all year long for my regular shopping as well. I shop on Raise.com for discounted gift cards + then use them to pay with. Raise offers Physical + Electronic Gift Cards at a discount so make sure to pay attention to what type of card you're buying. The physical cards will have to be mailed to you, so you'll probably want to look for eGift Cards. The electronic cards are emailed to you immediately after purchase and then you can either copy + paste the card numbers into your online checkout page or print them to pay in the store. Most gift cards are discounted 5%-25%...this shopping tip alone saved me $87 last year!
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7. Earn rebates on Ebates.com
This is for sure the easiest tip to take advantage of on this entire list! First of all, new members get a $10 reward just for making their first purchase, then all you have to do is search for your store of choice, and shop through their cash back link. They do have scheduled pay outs for the cash back, but it's seriously that simple!
8. Take advantage of Amazon Prime
I used to not be a Prime fan, but the more + more we shop online the more I love that we're members. The $10.99 a month super cheap for all of the perks that come with it...plus I mean that's cheaper than paying shipping out-right on just two packages. And even if you don't want to pay the $10.99, they offer a free 30-day trial...which you could totally take advantage of for Christmas and cancel before you get charged.
9. Preview Black Friday + Cyber Monday ads
Most stores will publish their sale ads early, so jump over to their websites and take advantage of those previews, then you can plan your shopping out accordingly.
10. Remember small + local stores will have Holiday Sales too
It's not just Target + Best Buy offering amazing deals this time of year. Don't forget about the small online businesses, Etsy shops, + local Boutiques in your own town. Most stores have social media sites so make sure to follow them to stay in-the-know about every discount they're offering.
11. Do your research
Not only do you need to preview the Black Friday + Cyber Monday sales, you also need to know the regular prices of the items so you can compare them with the sale price. Don't assume just because it's "on sale" that it's a bargain.
12. Download your favorite store's app
This can be handy for previewing sale ads, staying up-to-date with new items, + for finding exclusive coupons that aren't offered anywhere else.
13. Remember that cheaper isn't always better
A lot of big box stores will go Black Friday crazy and try to look good in their sale ads with their discounted prices...but cheaper is not always better. My personal example is buying super cheap kids' PJs at Target one Black Friday...just to get them home to realize the fabric was terrible + the sizing was off...BUT I bought them because they were only $5 each...big mistake!
14. Remember that Black Friday isn't always the best time to shop
Not every Black Friday sale is that great anyway! A lot of the time the stores will offer a few amazing deals, get you into the store, and then persuade you into spending more than you planned to because you're already in the shopping mindset. If you can't resist the "sale" signs everywhere + you know it'll just cause you to over-do-it then stay home and shop on a regular day.
15. Keep sale ads + coupon you receive in the mail or by email
Keep those sale ads handy as your research material until you're completely done gift shopping. Same goes for coupons! A lot of stores will be sending you unsolicited coupons hoping to get your business. I know us budgeting families would normally just trash these to resist the shopping temptation, but they could actually help you this time of year. Even if I don't plan to shop at that store, I hang on to them just in case I need to use them or I can share them with someone else.
16. Price compare
This can be done while you're still at home planning out your family's Holiday Budget or from inside of a store right before you actually make your purchase. Pull out your phone and do a quick Google Shopping or Amazon search. Make sure you're paying a good price for the item before you buy!
17. Ask about price matching
A lot of stores these days will match or sometimes even beat their competitors prices. If you're not sure ask a sale associate or Google it before making your purchase.
My personal favorite place to price match is at Staples. All I have to do is Google the item I'm about to buy, show them the search results on my phone, and they'll change the price! It's amazing!
18. Do a quick Google for a coupon
Even if you aren't researching price comparisons, Google can still be a huge helper to you! After you've decided on your item grab your phone and just do a quick search for a coupon. This doesn't always work, but sometimes you'll get lucky and stumble across a coupon that can save you some serious cash.
19. Check out the clearance section
Even if the store is having a huge Holiday Sale, don't forget to look at the clearance section whether it be at a physical store or at an online store. A lot of clearance items can work as gifts, especially if you take the time to sift through them.
20. Breakdown packs of multiples
I use this tip a lot for my kids...especially with stocking stuffers! Say I buy a multi-pack of chap stick or cute cartoon socks...I can totally divide those up and use that one package as a few different gifts.
21. Consider DIYing it instead
Can't afford that adorable item you found on Etsy or a sweet sign you saw at Hobby Lobby? Consider making it yourself! Of course you'll want to make sure to budget in the craft supplies it'll require, but this can save you a ton of money!
22. Shop at Dollar Tree like a boss
I used to be ashamed that I shopped at Dollar Tree so much, but now I totally own it! It's probably my favorite store! I shop at Dollar Tree for a LOT of my Christmas items like Candy, Christmas themed items (everything from Stickers to Cookie Cutters), Stocking Stuffers, Plastic Baskets for Goodie Baskets, Craft Supplies, Holiday Party Decor, Wrapping Supplies, + more! (Check out these Dollar Tree ideas)
23. Don't forget about Hobby Lobby
Hobby Lobby isn't just for craft supplies! You can get tons of great gifts there like home decor, project kits, and art work. PLUS Hobby Lobby offers an every day 40% off coupon online for one item per day, and amazing weekly sales. (Check out these Hobby Lobby hacks)
Check out my Christmas on a Budget
- Savings Plans
- Family Activities
- Free Printables
- Budget-friendly Hacks
- Gift Ideas
- Craft Projects
- Decorating Ideas
- DIY Inspiration
24. Shop for used items
Just because an item is used doesn't mean it isn't good enough to be a gift! There are tons of used items that could totally work as present...especially if your budget is really tight! Don't forget to browse through your local thrift shop or Goodwill. Also remember to check out your locally owned antique stores, as well as Facebook classified sites, Ebay, + even Garage Sales.
25. Shop for practical gifts
Think about items that have everyday low prices...like toiletries, clothing, + candy. Not only are these items cheaper than toys + electronics, they're also a lot more useful and less likely to get wasted, broken, or returned.
26. Keep your receipts
Not only is it good to save your receipts or get a gift receipt just in case the item needs to be returned by the receiver, but it's also a good to keep the receipts for yourself too. You never know when you'll find a better priced item at a different store or realize you've over-spent and need to cut back your budget a little.
27. Shop after Christmas for next year
This tip isn't for everyone, especially those of us with a super tight budget or no extra storage space...but you can score some great deals on gift wrapping, decorations, and holiday gift sets if you wait until after Christmas. I've only done this one time with wrapping paper and Christmas lights, but I did get some great bargains! I know some people will even budget in a little extra money into their Holiday Budget just for these items!
I hope that these shopping tips help you stay on budget this Holiday season! Even if you're only able to use a few of the tips that will work best for your family, the most important thing is to stay intentional + keep your mind focused on your budget.
Check out the whole Christmas series
HEY I'M SAMI WOMACK
I'm the wife to my high school sweetheart, Daniel, + homeschooling momma to our 3 girls. I'm the Budgeting Coach + Motivational Speaker behind
A Sunny Side Up Life.
My family used to be in $490k of debt + living paycheck-to-paycheck, but after we hit rock bottom everything changed for us!
Now that my family has become debt free + gained financial freedom, I want to help your family do the same! My passion is inspiring women to live abundant lives through budgeting, intentional living, and positive thinking.
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