Saturday, October 29, 2011
Saving on Christmas Shopping
Most people are starting to think about Christmas shopping now and that’s their first mistake. It is no wonder they pay too much, get caught in traffic lot chaos, and often don’t get what they want. I try to keep my eyes and ears open all year long. Sure, I do go out on Black Friday, but there is an art to that too.
Know who you are buying for their wants and dislikes, plus how much you are willing to spend. Put money into envelopes to keep you from spending more. Knowing you have only thirty dollars to spend on someone including tax will keep you from plunking down the credit card and charging 49.95. To keep that from happening, try lay-away. I know K-mart offers it, and I've heard Marshalls does too. Ask your favorite retailer. Lay-away allows you to pick out items and pay a little bit on them weekly. It allows you to stay in your budget and hides items up to a week before Christmas.
Adults are sometimes easier to shop for because they have likes that don’t change. My sister collects Gone with The Wind ornaments. The best time to buy these is AFTER Christmas when Hallmark stores halve their original price. It also depends on the store, some will go as lowest as 75% off. I always keep my eyes open at flea markets and yard sales where collectibles often come up for sale.
Christmas can be a time of restocking items like socks, mufflers, gloves, and underwear. Underwear and sock are usually on sale in August for the start of school. Many stores will highlight gloves and hats, but amazingly the best buys I’ve gotten on gloves and wool socks is Menards, especially on Black Friday.
Looking for candles, check out your local Krogers. Those big glass bottle candles that run as much as thirty dollars at department stores can retail as cheaply as $3.50 at Krogers. This is a seasonal deal so make sure to stock up. Another good place for candles is Kohls, which often has several scents discounted.
Did you get coupons in the mail? Check them out carefully. I usually get a Bath & Body coupon for $10 off $30 purchase THAT can be used on Black Friday. Often many retailers will you send you a coupon where you get $10 off something, but when you get in the store nothing you pick out is applicable. I go through plenty of J.C.Penney’s coupons that advertise get $10 off any $25 purchase. I get these off the Internet. They are always good for clothes. If you want a particular coupon or coupon code, google it.
Read the coupons carefully because you have to spend so much money and use it before it expires. Newsflash: DSW and Bed, Bath, and Beyond allow me to use expired coupons all the time. Bed, Bath and Beyond puts out some amazing coupons and I solicit them from my relatives. I may have five coupons that allow me to get $5 off any item if I spend $15. I have used two coupons at once. I think two is pushing it before the people behind me riot.
Don’t buy it if you were not planning on buying someone a present. Most people don’t like feeling obligated to give you a gift because you bought them a gift. People you might avoid gifting is co-workers, casual acquaintances, someone you went out with a few times. If you feel you must give them something. Make it small. You can bake them cookies too.
Assemble your own gift baskets. You don’t really want the prepackaged fruit baskets because often the bruises on fruit is hidden. I buy baskets at yard sales all year long. Places like the Dollar Tree and Goodwill is another source. Often you can make the basket portion out of a useful item like a mixing bowl, dog dish, or an oversized coffee mug depending on the theme. You can buy several nice gourmet teas, nuts, candies, even imported jams at Big Lots. By making your own basket, you can include what your recipient would really like.
Shopping with Ebay. Beware of falling into a bidding war. First price what you want off Ebay to get a feel for the actual price. Look for 100% rating, then free shipping. I often watch items and do not bid on them until the last minute only bidding exactly what I am willing to pay. Be careful to bid on only one copy of the item at a time.
Catalog shopping-every company that ships delicious edibles has sent me a catalog already. Most promise a free item, sometimes two, one even three, if I order anything. Because I’ve used the companies before I know their items. I will order the free known item for relatives knowing they’ll like it. I will often buy one item only and have it shipped to me. The purpose of this item can be as a gift for someone who gave me a surprise gift that I didn’t plan for or it is my contribution to a pitch-in that I didn’t plan for either.
Groupon-this year I’ve been using Groupon for Christmas shopping. So far, I’ve purchased headphones, tea, items from the Body Shop, and photo shoot for less than 50% of original prices. You have to signup for daily reminders at Groupon.com
A last great gift, especially for grandparents, is photos. I have made a number of photo gifts using my local Walgreens. I wait until they have a 40% off sale. I have made some items FREE because I am on the mailing list which alerts you to free items. I also use Shutterfly, an online service because it seems to be the easiest to use with the best results. They are always having some type of sale, never pay full price. You can always scrapbook an album of a special event too.
As for Black Friday, that’s another blog.