If you plan on taking advantage of the many holiday deals happening right now, you need a plan. As a savvy shopper, saving money should be a priority.
In this article, I’ll show you some winning steps you can take to hack your holiday bills.
Money expert Clark Howard says instead of waiting to cash in on Black Friday or Cyber Monday bargains, take a measured approach to your holiday shopping: Start now but pace yourself so that you can keep more of your money.
“These retailers recognize that the day really doesn’t matter anymore, that it really is Black Friday month, just one continuous series of rolling sales,” Clark says.
Follow These 5 Steps to Save Money on Holiday Shopping
Let’s look at some steps you can take to buy the items you love without breaking your bank account.
1. Create a Budget
Look at the shopping season as a time to get deals on items you’ve wanted for a while — not necessarily a time to splurge. That’s why a budget can help you stay within your means.
The benefits of a budget include being able to prioritize your needs and set aside funds for what’s important vs. what’s on your wish list.
Resource: Use the CLARK Method to Create a Budget
2. Compare Prices
How many times have you purchased an item only to see it go on sale later? That’s why Clark is a big proponent of comparing prices before you purchase.
In most cases, if you have your mobile phone you can search for the item at a similar store or use Google to find many different stores (some of them online) where an item is available. The good thing is that if you find it cheaper elsewhere, some retailers will match the price.
A great price comparison tool is Google Shopping, which notifies you of price reductions. And Camelcamelcamel makes it easy to compare Amazon’s prices over time, which is a great way to plan when to shop.
3. Take Advantage of Free Trials
One often-overlooked way to make sure you’re not wasting money on something is to take advantage of free trial offers. Many services, from shopping to streaming, allow you to test them out before you’re locked in.
These free trials — which can be anywhere from a week to a month long — also give the company time to build trust with the consumer without a monetary commitment. Amazon Prime’s 30-day trial is an example.
The way to be successful with a free trial is to remember to cancel if you don’t want it. Don’t be afraid to take screenshots and other documentation to show that you’ve canceled the service. You may need them later!
Resource: The Downside of Some Free Trials
4. Try a Shopping App
There used to be a time when all you needed to go shopping was your billfold, but now your phone is also a necessity. That’s because technology — namely shopping apps — can help you save money.
- Ibotta: This app lets you turn grocery receipts into cash.
- List Ease: Make a shopping list to stay on track with your purchases.
- Rakuten: Formerly eBates.com, Rabuken lets you earn cashback on your purchases.
Resource: 7 Best Apps to Save Money on Groceries
5. Use a Cash Back Credit Card
To optimize your savings, use a credit card that gives you cash back every time you make a purchase.
Clark says a simple cash back card with no annual fee is best. Typically, if you’re not a high-volume charger, a cash back card like Citi® Double Cash should work fine.
Resource: Best Cash Back Credit Cards
When it comes to holiday shopping, along with sifting through prices, you may have to combat the temptation to make impulse buys.
If you find yourself getting ready to hit “submit” on an order on something you just found, Clark suggests that you put an item in your online cart and then just leave it there for 24 hours.
Because many online sites track your purchases and intent to buy, you may wake up with a coupon in your inbox, or you might decide you didn’t want that item after all!
Want to find out more ways to save on the internet? Read Team Clark’s Online Shopping Guide.