The holidays can put a strain on even the most careful budget. But with good food, good company and good times to be had, you’ll want to push the money worries to the back of your mind. One simple way to do this is to find great savings on one of the largest spending pitfalls of the holidays – gift buying. To help you manage the costs of the toys, clothes and jewelry you need to buy, we’ve compiled a “quick hits” list of sneaky ways to save on gifts this holiday season.
1) Card-Linked Offers
If you forgot your coupons at home, don’t double back to pick them up. Card-linked offers are coupons tacked right onto your credit, debit or store rewards card. Simply activate your offer and shop as you always do. Your rewards for your purchase will be loaded back onto your card statement.
Because you don’t have to print or clip any coupons, there will be no holdup at checkout and no confusion about coupon restrictions. These annoyances are particularly aggravating during the holidays when you’re tight on time and retailers are holding holiday sales that often can’t be combined with coupons.
2) Social Media Promotions
As we get deeper into the holiday season, retailers will be ramping up their efforts to get their customers engaged. One way they love to connect? On Facebook and Twitter. Follow your favorite merchant on social media platforms to receive exclusive coupon codes, get wind of special sales, be entered for giveaways, and more. If you’re not a fan of being blasted with e-commerce solicitations, create a separate social media account just for shopping.
3) Independent Retailer Coupons
It's no longer difficult for small sellers to get into the discounts game by offering their own individualized sales, deals and coupons. Use these discounts to get good prices at handmade sellers, such as those featured at online marketplaces like Etsy or Big Cartel. Etsy coupon codes will make finding a unique gift for the hard-to-please a breeze, and you can even buy an Etsy gift card if you can’t find a piece to match your gift recipient’s style.
4) Rewards Malls
Reward malls are online shopping portals that pay you in bonuses for shopping with them. Start your shopping trip at a rewards mall’s website, browse the discounts you’ll receive at hundreds of popular online merchants, and click through to the merchant’s site to begin shopping.
Your browsing path will be recorded with cookies, and you will receive your rewards after you purchase an item. Rewards can amount to 40% back on your buys.
Choose your rewards mall based off which type of reward you’d like the most. Looking for free airline flights? Shop through an airline’s mileage mall, such as Delta SkyMiles, to earn frequent flyer miles. Just looking for cash back, with no strings attached? Try FatWallet.com or eBates.com.
5) Free Shipping
December 17th will be a holiday from the holidays. This Monday is known as Free Shipping Day – a whole day dedicated to making your retailer pay for your seasonal shipping costs. Order online on Free Shipping Day and get guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve with no shipping charges attached to your purchases.
If you'd rather not wait for your gifts but love the convenience of online ordering, try in-store pickup. Many retailers are now offering this as a way for customers to get the best of both the online and offline retail environments. You can order from the comfort of your couch but visit the store within minutes or hours of your purchase to pick it up. You can shop in your pajamas and pick up your purchase without having to enter the crazy and crowded aisles of the store.
Matt Ong is a retail analyst for NerdWallet, a consumer finance website that builds tools to help people save money. His present project is creating a database of online coupon codes to get shoppers discounts and keep retailers honest.
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