Over the next couple of weeks, six finalists will be auditioning for the opening of “staff writer” at Consumerism Commentary. Each will be providing two guest articles to share with readers. After the six writers have shared their guest articles, readers will have an opportunity to provide feedback before we select the staff writer.
This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, a mostly stay-at-home mom who writes about personal finance at The Centsible Life.
News that the recession may be over has many retailers hoping that American consumers will open their purses and wallets and spend more this holiday season.
Frugality has been popular during the recession, so retailers are targeting your frugal side to make sales. This holiday season will see a rash of new promotions and coupons aimed at your frugal side.
Several retailers are starting to offer “Pre-Black Friday” deals. Amazon.com for instance offered several electronics deals on November 7th. Even upscale retailers such a Pottery Barn are offering more items with free shipping, and a larger selection of sale items to draw more consumers. While many retailers, like Crate & Barrel, have free shipping on purchases over a certain dollar amount. Crate and Barrel’s offer is free shipping on orders over $100 between Oct. 15 and Dec. 22, 2009.
Despite the draw of deals, most Americans will be spending less this year on holiday gift giving. Of those I informally polled, no one said they would be spending more than they had in the past, and the majority of people had 3 methods for reducing spending this year:
- Shorten the list: Shopping for fewer people topped the list of ways to reduce holiday spending. Co-workers, hostess gifts, and other small gifts can really add up.
- Handmade gifts: Most people will understand your budget is a tight, and would rather have your award winning brownies than $20 worth of too pretty to use speciality soaps.
- Smarter spending: The best way to save money this holiday season (and year round) is to spend smart. I’ll share 10 ways you can be giving this holiday season without sacrificing your savings.
10 ways to spend smarter
I’ll share my top 10 ways I shop smarter, which are helpful for the holiday season and beyond.
- Make a list whenever you leave the house. Make a list, check it twice, don’t leave home without it!
- Use coupons and discounts, but only for things you need. Coupons are a great way to save money, but look for coupon codes or discounts for things that are on your list. You are NOT saving money spending on things that you don’t need.
- Create a “sale mail” email account. Set up an email account and sign up for emails from your favorite or most frequently shopped stores. Ignore it unless you are shopping, and check it before you make a purchase.
- Plan ahead for big purchases. Use this list as a guideline to find the best time of year to purchase most goods.
- Eat before you shop. Pack snacks or a meal if you will be out for a long time. Make sure to pack water as well. This not only saves money when food shopping, but also when you are doing other types of shopping as well!
- Choose quality over quantity. Use Consumer Reports, or other reviews to find a product that will last you longer than a cheap one.
- Institute a waiting period. Whether it’s a 30 day waiting period for larger purchases or a day long waiting period for small purchases, a waiting period is a great way to control your budget.
- Use your budget. Shop within your means. Simple, I know but difficult for some people (including me) to practice.
- Look online before you buy. Knowing the price of something online saves you time (no running from store to store), and you can guarantee you’ll know the cheapest price. Many stores offer price matching, so it’s a great incentive to spend 5-10 minutes searching the web.
- Don’t be afraid to bargain. Flexo had success bargaining, and saved $85 on a computer. It may seem difficult to do, but it’s worth trying, and could save you a ton of cash.
What’s your holiday budget this year? What ways do you save on holiday shopping?
To keep track of deals online for the holiday season, keep track of current Black Friday Deals at black-friday.net and find out about free shipping day, or find free shipping deals on freeshipping.org.
This is a guest article by Kelly Whalen, one of six finalists interested in being Consumerism Commentary’s staff writer.
Photo credit: stevendepolo
Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published November 13, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.