Christmas Budget Shopping Tips: 30 Smart Ways to Save Money (& Earn Extra Cash)

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How do you do your Christmas shopping on a budget?

Is that even possible?…

Christmas is such a fun and enjoyable time of year.

But, there’s one thing that can suck the magic right out of this wonderful holiday…

Christmas shopping!

Not the act of shopping itself per se, we all love that, the act of paying for all those gifts is the hard part!

According to the American Research Group, the average American will spend $992 on Christmas gifts this year.

That’s a pretty staggering number!

Unfortunately, this expense can really affect your finances long after Christmas is over if you’re not careful – especially if you don’t have much in your savings account from the start.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of holiday shopping tips. It includes all sorts of ways for you to save money on Christmas shopping.

So, check it out, and make sure that Christmas doesn’t drain your bank account this year.

Table of Contents

1. Don’t check out right away

All retailers want to do is close the deal. So even if they have to give you a discount to get you to buy something, they usually will!

That’s why leaving items in your online shopping cart is such a good idea.

It shows the retailer that you’re serious about buying – so they’ll take whatever steps they can to ensure you go through with the purchase.

Next time you shop online, register with the retailer, sign into your account, put the items that you want in your cart, and then abandon it.

Check back in a day or two.

Often, the store will offer you a discount, a promo code or some other incentive, like free shipping to get you to check out.

It’s a great way to save money on your holiday shopping.

2. Choose the private browsing option

Online, you might think that every customer sees the same prices. But, that’s not exactly the case.

You see many retailers practice something called dynamic pricing.

This means that they increase the price of something based on your perceived desire for it.

Using cookies and other tracking tools, retailers online collect information about how you browse the Internet – like the websites you visit and how much you spend.

They use this information about your browsing habits to target you with ads – how many times have you seen an ad for something you looked at earlier on a completely different website?

Retailers also use this data to determine how much you’re willing to pay. And, if they see that you frequently look at a certain product on their site, the retailer will estimate that you’re willing to pay more – so they jack the price up.

The best way to get around dynamic pricing is to use the private or incognito feature of your web browser. Both Internet Explorer and Google Chrome offer this feature.

Here is how you can use this feature:

  • Chrome: Simply right click on the browser item on your desktop and select the “new incognito window” option.
  • Explorer: Click on Settings > Safety > InPrivate Browsing. There is also a keyboard shortcut you can use – Ctrl+Shift+P.
  • Firefox: Click on Settings > New Private Window. Ctrl+Shift+P is the keyboard shortcut you can too.

Use the private browser to look for gifts and the regular one to buy them.

3. Get more deals using multiple email addresses

As we mentioned above, many retailers send out coupons and other money saving deals through email.

Take advantage of these great deals by signing up multiple times, with different email addresses.

It’s easy to create an email account and free too – just check out Microsoft Live, Yahoo Mail or Gmail.

When you sign up with a few different emails, you get more discounts and codes to use, saving you even more money this Christmas.

4. Use Honey to find coupons and discounts for you

During Christmas, you should never buy anything without looking for a coupon or discount code first. But, that can be difficult if you’re busy – which many people are.

Fortunately, there is a great tool called Honey that finds coupons and discounts for you.

It’s a browser extension. When you get to the checkout at an online store, click on the Honey extension and it automatically finds coupons and discount codes for that product – and it applies them too! You don’t have to do anything.

5. Check out social media

Social media is more than just a place to connect with friends. It’s a place where you can find some fantastic money saving deals.

A lot of companies offer exclusive deals, discounts, and coupons through their Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Here are a few examples:

Think about the retailers you’d like to buy gifts from and follow them on social media.

6. Take advantage of discount gift cards

Did you know that you can get a gift card worth $30 for $15?

Really!

There are tons of websites where you can buy gift cards at a discounted price. So, you could easily pay just $70 for a gift card that’s worth $100!

Here are a few places to find them:

For more places to find them, check out our discount gift cards post.

Once you get your hands on a gift card, you could use it to buy presents, so you could get $50 worth of stuff for $35 or you could simply give the card itself as a present, and it will look like you’ve spent more than you have!

7. Use cash back sites

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get money back when you go shopping?

Well, with cash back sites you can!

These websites are essentially shopping portals, where you can buy items from well-known brands and retailers.

And, when you shop through a cash back site, you can get between 2% to more than 25% of your spending back.

So, consider using one of these sites:

8. Use cash rather than cards

A super simple, but incredibly effective and practical way to save money on Christmas shopping is to use cash to buy stuff, rather than your cards.

There are studies out there that show people spend more when using plastic, rather than cold hard cash.

You should know how much you’re going to spend on each person, as you made a budget earlier, so take only that amount of money with you.

9. Make your cards work for you

While some people spend more when using cards, the right credit or debit card could actually save you money.

A lot of cards provide you with cashback. This means that each time you use the card to pay for something you get a percentage of your spending back.

A few examples of cashback cards include:

If you use a cashback card, then you save money each and every time you shop. Just make sure to pay your card off in full each month.

10. Look for sales and stock up

You can find some great quality items in the sales – all for great value prices. So, look out for sales, both online and offline, and stock up on presents.

Online you should check out Amazon’s sale section and Groupon too.

You can find some great gifts on sale.

11. Sign up for emails

A lot of retailers offer promo codes, coupons, discounts and other exclusive deals to their email subscribers.

That’s why it’s always worth checking to see whether a store has an email list that you could sign up for. You could save yourself some cash.

12. Try to find a coupon

If you’re on a quest to save cash this Christmas, then you should definitely be using coupons. You can clip coupons from newspapers and magazines, but the Internet is, arguably, the best place to find them.

Online, you can find tons of money-saving coupons for places like Amazon.

Check out our posts for more places to find them:

  • Where to Get Coupons: 21 Weird Places You Didn’t Know You Could Find Coupons
  • The 20 Best Coupon Sites (Updated for 2017): Save up to 90%

13. Use price trackers

Isn’t it annoying when you see something you’ve just bought and it’s now on sale?

Well, you can avoid that problem, and save yourself some money by using price drop alert tools.

You should check out:

With these tools, you enter the product you’re interested and it tracks the prices for you. When the price drops, you get an alert informing you. So, you can easily get items at the best price.

It saves you having to check back yourself – after all, who has time for that during the holidays?

14. Make gifts yourself

Homemade gifts are generally more economical – plus they take a little extra effort on your part that the recipient is sure to appreciate.

If you can, consider making a couple of gifts yourself this Christmas.

15. Take a breather between purchases

You’ve probably done this yourself – you see a nice handbag for your sister, then you think why not buy a scarf too? Then, you realize you’ve exceeded your budget.

A study from Stanford University found that when people buy one thing it gives them the impulse to buy more – researchers call this phenomenon “shopping momentum”.

To avoid falling into this trap, and blowing through your budget in the process, take a breather between purchases – even online.

16. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales (and try eBay too)

If you take the time to look thoroughly, you can find some real gems at yard sales and thrift stores.

And, if you have a friend or family member that likes vintage stuff or quirky, one of a kind pieces, they’re the perfect place to shop.

Don’t count out eBay either – it’s another place where you can find unique gifts at reasonable prices.

17. Re-gift

Did you get a present last Christmas or for your birthday that you don’t like or just don’t use?

Well, instead of having it clutter up your house, give it to someone else as a gift.

I keep a large plastic tote in my basement to hold all my re-gift items. Whenever I receive a gift that I don’t like or just have no use for, into the tote it goes. This is handy all year round, for birthdays or last minute hostess gifts as well.

It will save you so much money – and the person will never know, unless your name is Larry David, in which case regifting is likely to set off an entire chain reaction of events, alienating everyone you know. But that probably won’t happen to you.

18. Make a budget

Before you go shopping, sit down and make a budget. Write down how much you’re willing to spend on all of your gifts. This doesn’t need to be an exact amount – it’s just a ballpark figure to keep you on track.

Then, break it down further.

Write down the name of everyone you want to buy a gift for, and put a dollar amount next to each name.

19. Sign up for Amazon Prime

If you’re not a member of Amazon Prime, then the Christmas season is definitely the time to sign up.

With Prime, you get free shipping on every order – no spending minimum required!

Shipping fees can really mount up – and you can pay up to $6 each and every time you order something.

Prime only costs $10.99, and you can cancel it after one month if you want!

And, the best part – the first month is free!

So, take advantage of a free trial for December.

20. Filter discounted products on Amazon

Amazon is such a good platform to buy gifts. Its prices are low, its delivery is quick and you can find some real gems on there.

But, if you want to save yourself some time finding those great discounts, then add the code below to the end of the URL:

&pct-off=

Then, after typing in that code, which you should do without the quotation marks, by the way, enter the discount you want to see.

So for example, if you want to see stuff with a 20 to 50% discount, then add “&pct-off=20-50” to the end of the URL.

It narrows down your search results, leaving you with only the discounts that you’re interested in.

21. Be strategic with coupons and discount codes

Coupons and discount codes are super effective money saving tools. To get even more out of them, use multiple codes strategically.

So, let’s say you have a promo code for free shipping, and you have a discount coupon – use them together and you save even more!

2. Promise not to buy anything for yourself

One of the best tips for Christmas shopping on a budget is to avoid buying stuff for yourself.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 59% of shoppers buy gifts for themselves during the holidays.

And, on average, they spend almost $140!

So, when you go out to buy Christmas gifts, resist the urge to pick up something for yourself and you’ll save so much money!

23. Lookout for purchases with free gifts

A lot of places, particularly beauty retailers and cosmetic counters at department stores, offer a free gift when you purchase something.

You could give this gift to someone for Christmas.

24. Use the online chat box

You know that little chat box that sometimes pops up at the bottom right-hand corner of the computer screen? Don’t ignore it next time you’re Christmas shopping online.

Instead, use it to ask a customer service rep for a discount. Whether it’s a code for 10% off or free shipping, often customer service will be happy to give you a discount.

It doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly worth a try!

25. Look for a discount code

Always check to see if there’s a discount code available when you purchase something online.

A quick Google search for the item you want, followed by terms like “discount code” or “promo code” can come up with tons of money-saving results. For example, “Hatchimals Egg discount code” or “Play Station promo code.”

26. Shop around

Comparison shopping is the key to saving money on Christmas shopping.

It takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it, as the savings can be big.

So, if you’re after a particular gift, check the price of it in various stores online and offline, before you buy it.

27. Automate comparison shopping

If you don’t have the time to compare prices yourself, then use a tool to do it for you.

These tools automatically compare the price of an item across dozens of stores.

Check out one of the following tools next time you want to find the best price for something:

Using a tool saves so much time and cash!

28. Don’t shop at malls

The mall can be a tempting place at Christmas time – the lights, the decorations, the excited shoppers snapping up holiday gifts – but it can also be a pretty pricey place too.

Retailers that you find in the mall tend to be some of the most expensive – after all, leasing a store in the mall isn’t cheap!

So, avoid shopping in malls – unless of course there’s some great sale on that’s going to save you a ton of money.

29. Don’t worry about the (low) price tag

If you’ve allocated a $30 spending limit for a person’s gift, don’t be put off by a $20 item just because it’s got a lower price tag.

A gift shouldn’t be judged by its price tag – things like thoughtfulness, usefulness, and quality are much more important.

So, don’t worry about the price. If you see something for your sister-in-law for example that you think she’d love, but it’s only $15 when you planned to spend $20, then don’t worry – get the gift anyway.

You’ll save yourself cash if you stop focusing on the price tag.

30. Take advantage of loyalty cards

Many stores and retailers offer loyalty cards to members. So, if you’ve got a loyalty card for a retailer, consider using the points you’ve accrued to buy a present for someone.

It’s a good way to use your points, plus it saves you cash!

Bottom Line

At Christmas, we all want to make our friends and family happy – but don’t feel like you have to spend a ton of cash in order to do that.

Remember, Christmas is about so much more than gifts! So, don’t stress yourself out trying to buy the perfect gift for everyone.

Follow the Christmas shopping saving tips above and most of all enjoy the holiday!

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