You’re smart enough to know that if a mega brand is boasting about its “amazing prices” and “great deals” around the holidays, that’s probably not a great deal but rather a jacked up price with the word “sale” next to it. Things are naturally more expensive around the holidays, so you have to learn to rely on wits to save money. Here are 15 ways you forget to save money during the holidays.
If you do most of your holiday shopping online, suddenly you find you spent nearly $100 just on shipping. Ask your generous friend for his or her Amazon Prime password and get free two day shipping on tons of items.
Sites like CardPool.com and GiftCards.com have discounted gift cards for brands like ALDO, AMC, Banana Republic, Best Buy and the list goes on. For serious savings, you can even look on eBay where sellers are offering gift cards for half their value.
They’re onto something in the movie “The Holiday!” Why just stay for cheap somewhere when you can stay for free. Legitimate, safe websites like HomeExchange.com and LoveHomeSwap.com let you match up with homeowners around the world, looking to visit your hometown and happy to offer up their house.
Throughout the year, you ignore the “buy six bottles, get 30%” deal at your grocery store because you don’t want six bottles of booze cluttering your counter space. But it’s the holidays—you have parties to go to almost every week. What does that mean? You can’t show up empty-handed! Cue the six bottles of wine you already bought, and one less stop on the way to the party.
There’s no gift more heartwarming than a beloved object, framed. That can be the program from the first concert you ever took your honey to, or plane and train tickets from your honeymoon. Frame: $5 to $30. Thing inside the frame: free (well, already paid for.)
If it’s already the holiday season, retail stores know they can charge you whatever they want for decorations. But thrift stores carry perfectly usable decorations including everything from Christmas lights to fake trees.
Skip the pricey production of The Nutcracker at your local major theater, and support a local high school or college. Schools put on great productions for cheap or free. And even when they’re not “great” by a critic’s standard, they’re endearing.
Next time you’re online shopping and your cart is full of all the things you want, logout. Now wait. You’ll probably see that site sending you emails, begging you to come back and check out, offering you discounts to do so…
Being the big online shopping society we are, we forget that good old-fashioned department stores still offer good old-fashioned free gift-wrapping! If you’re purchasing some items that will be the same price in store, just go buy them in store and have the locations wrap them for you.
All that charging and swiping might finally pay off! Check your rewards balance—there could be more on there than you realized. Amazon links directly to many online credit card accounts, so you can shop hassle-free.
If you have lots of parties in a week, bake up an enormous batch of baked treats. Separate them up and bring them as hostess gifts. You can even bring small plates with ribbons on top to co-workers you don’t want to spend money on. Think about it: a single box of a decent brand of holiday cookies will run you anywhere from $8 to $12. With that money, you could buy the ingredients for three times that many cookies.
If you don’t have access to an Amazon Prime account, shop at least two weeks before you need to hand the gift over. Usually choosing the slowest shipping method means spending the least money on shipping—or even no money.
Your company might offer discounts to concerts, fitness classes, festivals and more. Ask about these—you earned it!
The less eating you do, the less money you’ll spend on yoga/Pilates/personal trainer sessions to make up for it. And you’ll even have extra time then to shop around, and compare prices on your holiday gifts.
We understand if for guests, you want to buy the “nice stuff.” But when you’re planning a holiday party, you’re going to scoop the onion dip, salsa, caramel, chips and cookies into bags and platters anyways, so nobody will know the brand.