30 Sensible Holiday Shopping Tips


Time to Shop

The holidays are meant to be a celebration of family, friends, and co-workers. From shopping chaos and the holiday shuffle, they often become frustrating and overwhelming.   At the end of the season, many are left with the consequences of mistakes made while holiday shopping.

Below are a collection of shopping tips to enjoy a happy, sensible and responsible holiday season:

  1. Make a Shopping List – Write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for and how much you plan to spend.  It’s not just to save money, it’s so you don’t miss anyone.
  2. Be Patient and Look for Deals – The bad economy means that retailers are marking down merchandise.  Shop around at different stores. Chances are you will find what you are looking for at a lower price.
  3. Plan Ahead – Make sure you call the store to see if the item you want to buy is in stock.  Otherwise, you have wasted time, effort, and gas.
  4. Organize Your Trip – Group your gift list into different categories and plan your route.  This will save you so much time.
  5. Buy Online – If you have never purchased anything online, you are missing out because online retailers often give huge discounts.  Remember to calculate shipping into the total price before committing and look for retailers offering free shipping.
  6. Don’t Buy More than You Need – Never fall for offers that seem like a bargain but require you to buy additional products for the discounted price.  Having three of something you will never use is not a bargain.
  7. Clip Coupons – Go out of your way to find coupons or coupon codes.  It might be a hassle but it is time well spent.
  8. Gift Receipts – Always be sure that you receive one for returns.
  9. Have the Items Shipped ASAP – It’s the holiday season so shipping may take longer than normal.  Pay attention to shipping deadlines.
  10. Beware of Your Belongings – Holiday shopping usually means long lines and crowded malls.  Watch your belongings and be careful.
  11. Try Using Only Cash – If you are one of those people that can’t control spending, use cash.  Having a limited supply of funds will help reduce expenses.
  12. Credit Cards – If you use a credit card, find one that has the best rewards program for retail goods.
  13. Reward Points – Remember your reward points?  Maybe you can redeem them for gifts or gift cards.
  14. An Activity Can Be Worth More – Gifts are not just tied to a tangible item.  They could be a favor, an event or an experience.  Use your imagination.
  15. Taking the Experience a Step Further – It might make more sense for you and your friend to go out for dinner or on a trip together instead of buying gifts.  It could be more fun and more financially sensible at the same time.
  16. Don’t Buy Extended Warranties – Instead, buy the product with a credit card that offers double the warranty period as well as rewards points.
  17. Avoid Credit Card Advances – Never borrow against your credit card.  You will regret it.
  18. Don’t Apply for Store Credit Cards – In fact, don’t apply for any new credit card during the holiday season. The 15% off your first purchase or zero percent until 2014 offers are nothing than teasers meant to entice you.
  19. It’s Not a Competition – There’s no need to buy the biggest or most expensive gift.  Try something sensible and personal.  The best gifts are ones that come from the heart.
  20. Online Deal Sites – There are many sites that gather all the great bargains available.  Check them out to save time and money.
  21. Online Promotion Codes – Most online merchants have coupon or promotion codes.  Before buying anything online, always Google that particular merchant for applicable promotion codes.
  22. Ask for a Discount – Cashiers often have store coupons in front of them.  Be friendly and ask if there are current coupons that apply to your purchase.  You will be surprised on how often this works.
  23. Find a Shopping Buddy – Fugal shoppers will look in every aisle and find amazing deals.  If you are one of them, you can save time and cover more territory by teaming up.
  24. Have a Secret Santa Amongst Your Group – Instead of everyone buying a gift for everyone else, play the Secret Santa game.
  25. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag – Why be environmentally unfriendly?  Bring your own bag and ask the cashier for the appropriate discount.
  26. Avoid Crowds – Go shopping on a weekday or immediately after the mall opens.
  27. Free Gift Wrapping – If the store offers this, remember to take advantage of it.
  28. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute – Chances are you will be in a rush and these tips will be forgotten.
  29. Think of Yourself – It could be small, but remember that you deserve a gift as well.
  30. Use Common Sense – If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Use your judgment and remember to enjoy the holidays.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

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