Want to save some cash on your holiday shopping? Four money-saving experts, all South Florida moms who run websites about frugal living and smart shopping, have plenty of advice for you.
Their first tip: Start now.
“Retailers have been starting their sales earlier every year, so planning ahead is very important,” said Melissa Cid, who runs www.savingmomsmoney.com. “Making a list is the best way to stay on track and keeps you from splurging on unnecessary items.”
Know everyday store prices of items on your list so you can spot a good deal when the sale ads show up at your door, said Cid, a Miami Lakes mom of two.
“Some retailers try to trick consumers by marking up prices and then advertising a discount,” she said. “Knowing the everyday price of an item will make you a smarter consumer.”
Save in stores
Check out Black Friday ads early at sites like www.bfads.net, Cid said. “Use these sites to your advantage to plan early and compare prices,” she said.
Look for sales that offer bonuses with purchase, said Mary Pat Pankoke, of www.couponclasses.com. Stores like Target and Best Buy frequently offer a gift card bonus when you purchase a particular item, she said. Search online for printable coupons you can use in-store, Pankoke said. “Use layaway plans offered by stores like Walmart and Kmart to buy items on sale, then pay for them over time with no interest, picking them up in time for holiday gift giving,” she said.
Familiarize yourself with a store’s couponing and price matching policy, which allows you to bring in a competitor’s ad and have a lower price matched, Cid said. Pay attention to stores that alter their price-matching policies during the holidays, Pankoke said. For example, Walmart will match the prices found in competitor’s print ads, but not online pricing — including pricing on their own website, she said. Target offers price matching, but has exclusions on Black Friday through Cyber Monday deals.
“Sign up for store reward programs. Certain stores will let you redeem those loyalty points or dollars for future purchases,” said Whitney Zimet of www.iamthemaven.com. “This is especially nice at toy stores where you can easily spend major bucks, and where you know you’ll need to return again and again for future purchases.”
Some retailers offer store credit cards with a percentage off a first purchase, or all purchases discounted, said Zimet, a Coral Gables mom of two. One example is Target’s store card, which offers five percent off all purchases.
“Just be careful with these,” Zimet said. “Pay off those cards each month because the interest rates are huge.” Also ask the store when they have customer appreciation days — usually a percentage off storewide — or if they offer free gift wrapping.
Stick to your list and don’t buy items you don’t need, said Leanette Fernandez of www.teachme2save.com. “Check the clearance aisles for really good deals and pricing,” she said.
Don’t forget to use your smart phone for on-the-spot price checking, Cid said. “And hold on to your receipt in case you come across a better deal at another store,” she said.
Look for extra holiday coupons in the Sunday newspaper and on sites like www.coupons.com, Cid said, “but also keep your eyes peeled for in-store holiday coupon books at grocery stores, drug stores and retailers like Target. Know the store’s coupon policies before you shop to prevent problems at the register, because lines can be very long this time of year.”