8 Easy Ways to Cut the Cost of Holiday Shopping

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Couple shopping for the holidays
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The holiday season is here. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other big shopping days are just around the corner.

Buying gifts for friends and loved ones can be a lot of fun. But if you aren’t careful, all that holiday cheer might evaporate when you get the credit card bill sometime after the new year dawns.

Fortunately, a little planning can help you find great deals that allow you to rein in spending while also giving loved ones the gifts they deserve.

Following are some easy ways to cut the cost of holiday shopping.

Purchase — or earn — discounted retail gift cards

Gift card
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Websites such as Raise sell gift cards at a discount. Purchase these cards, and you can create your own built-in savings when you shop.

Price breaks are great, but free is even better. Some sites ask you to perform specific tasks in exchange for points that can be cashed in for free gift cards.

For example, fill out surveys and participate in other activities at Swagbucks, and you can earn free gift cards for popular retailers.

Browse stores and retailer websites on 4 special days

Black Friday
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Each year, holiday shoppers can count on extra special sales on specific days. This year’s big days include:

  • Black Friday — Nov. 26
  • Small-Business Saturday — Nov. 27
  • Cyber Monday — Nov. 29
  • Green Monday — Dec. 13

Keep in mind that these are not guaranteed to be the best days to get deals. Other days might be better for scoring bargains on some items. But if you plan to shop, it’s worth looking around on these four days for especially great discounts.

For more on cutting shopping costs, check out “5 Ways to Save Money on Every Online Purchase.”

Shop through a cash-back site

Holiday shopping online
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You can earn cash back on every purchase simply by visiting certain websites when you shop online. As we explain in “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping“:

“Cash-back portals receive a commission for referring online shoppers to merchants. When you buy something from a merchant that partners with a cash-back portal, the portal passes some of the commission on to you.”

Rakuten is one popular cash-back portal. Ibotta is another such portal.

Make it a habit to always stop at these sites before you shop, as they often offer new and enhanced ways to save every week.

Install tools to help you save online

Family at the holidays
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Many websites offer tools that make it even easier to save when shopping online. For example, Rakuten members who add the Cash Back Button extension to their browser will be alerted of any cash-back and discount opportunities to save every time they visit a retail website.

The Honey browser extension automatically finds and applies coupon codes for thousands of retail sites.

Free shipping offers another way to save when shopping online. So, check out “8 Ways to Land Free Shipping for Online Purchases.”

Join mailing lists and check the retailer’s Facebook page

Woman and gifts
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A couple of the best ways to save on holiday gifts are to sign up for email alerts from a retailer and to download its app. In both cases, you’ll be alerted when new deals arrive. In addition, many retailers will offer a bonus — such as 15% off your first purchase — simply for signing up.

Keeping an eye on a retailer’s Facebook page is another great way to keep on top of special offers.

Compare prices on Amazon before buying

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America loves to shop on Amazon. But prices at the online retail giant change frequently.

To make sure you’re getting the best deal, turn to sites such as CamelCamelCamel and Keepa. These sites track prices on Amazon and alert you when a better deal pops up on the items you want to buy.

Looking for more ways to save when shopping on Amazon? Check out “7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon.”

Get sneaky with your shopping cart

Online shopping cart
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If you want to go the extra mile to save, try this little trick: Choose a gift or two at your favorite retailer’s website and add the items to your shopping cart.

Then, close the browser tab and walk away. As we explain in the story “5 Ways to Save Money on Every Online Purchase“:

“Online retailers track your every move. It’s undoubtedly distressing to them when you load up with a cartload of stuff, only to close the tab on your browser and move along. That’s why you might find a coupon code landing in your mailbox a day or two after you leave your cart.”

Just make sure that you have an account with the retailer and that you are logged in when you try this technique.

Use a price-adjustment app

Mother and daughter at the holidays
Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes you think you’ve purchased an item at a great price. In reality, an even better price might emerge in the days or weeks ahead. And unfortunately, there is a great chance you’ll never even know about the deal you missed.

However, you can avoid this fate by using a price-adjustment app. For example, the Earny app tracks your purchases when a retailer emails you a receipt. If it discovers future price drops, it claims the difference on your behalf and sends you the money.

Paribus is another price-adjustment app to try.

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