One Christmas, I hired a babysitter to take my three children to a Winter Wonderland while I went to Toys R Us to shop. She got to sip hot chocolate and help the kids make arts and crafts, while I had to stand in line and pay a ridiculous fortune for toys my children would likely play with one time. I was jealous when we all returned. I vowed that next Christmas would be different. I would complete my shopping by Thanksgiving so I could enjoy the holidays with my children.
The following year, Black Friday rolled around and I hadn’t purchased a thing. So much for my good intentions. But that’s when I discovered Amazon Prime and all the benefits of online Christmas shopping! Now, even if I procrastinate, I can still save time and money shopping online, and keep the month of December open for family celebrations. Here are 12 tips for saving time and money for the best online Christmas shopping experience.
1. Plan ahead with a wish list.
Nothing will break the budget like a last-minute impulse purchase. Plan ahead this year by keeping track of gift items you want to purchase with a wish list–either in Amazon, in Evernote, or with good, old-fashioned pen and paper. You can use this list for your shopping and this Christmas gift planner to get your kids involved.
2. Create a holiday budget.
If I don’t have a plan, I tend to overspend. Before you do your shopping, write down your gift list and how much you plan to spend on each. Plus, I’d rather bake cookies with my kids than browse the internet for two hours looking for a gift idea.
3. Compare prices.
It doesn’t take long to be a comparison shopper when you use sites like PriceGrabber, Google Shopping, Shopzilla, and Shopping.com to find the best price on a specific gift item.
4. Set up a price alert.
Know what you want to buy? Set up a price alert so you know when it goes on sale. Try CamelCamelCamel.
5. Use promo codes.
Before you make a purchase, review sites like RetailMeNot, Savings.com, and Promocodes.com. Don’t forget to check directly on the retailer’s website as well. (Bonus tip: use a different email address to subscribe to these sites so you don’t get spam in your regular inbox.)
6. Earn cash back when you shop online.
The next best thing to saving money is earning cash back on your purchases! Subscribe to cash back sites like Ebates and Coupon Cabin and watch the cash come rolling in with every click.
7. Get free shipping.
Take advantage of free shipping offers found on promo code and coupon sites. There’s even a Free Shipping Day December 14. If you shop on Amazon a lot, then Amazon Prime will probably pay for itself in free shipping. Many retailers also offer free shipping directly on their websites over the holidays.
8. Pay with cash using gift cards or debit cards.
If you’re on a cash-only budget to avoid overspending this holiday, you can still shop online using a debit card. Or buy yourself a gift card for your favorite online merchant for less than face value on GiftCardGranny.com. You can save even more by stacking a promo code on top of your discount gift card.
9. Buy local second-hand gifts online.
Save money and time using online resale sites like OfferUp or CraigsList. No more thrift store shopping or haggling at garage sales. Plus, you can earn your Christmas money by selling last year’s favorite toys that were abandoned by March.
10. Follow your favorite frugal living bloggers.
11. Resist the Pinterest pressure.
I’ve decided not to try crafty or elaborate table settings or wreaths just because I found a tutorial on Pinterest. However, if it’s something that could be enjoyed as a family activity, I’m all for it.
12. Check out GMA Deals and Steals.
Every Thursday morning, Tory Johnson shares some of her favorite new products on ABC’s Good Morning America, with exclusive discounts for online purchases.
What are your favorite ways to save time and money with your holiday shopping?