Holiday Shopping Without Breaking the Bank

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two women holiday shopping holding wrapped gifts

Before you’ve even put the leftover cranberry sauce in a Tupperware® container, you’re already seeing “50 percent off” signs dancing in your head. It must be the eve of Black Friday again. Holiday shopping begins the moment the last bite of pumpkin pie leaves the table; many stores now open on Thanksgiving night. If you want to save big during the holiday season, here are some tips for finding bargains.

Research before Black Friday

Don’t show up unprepared. Most stores advertise their deals in advance, so make a note of what you want to buy. If you arrive without a clear direction, you may miss out on the best deals in the store. Some bargains are also time-sensitive. For example, the tablet you want may only be available as an early-bird special; read the fine print. As The Balance points out, you should also research the quality of the items on sale. 1 A good deal is not a good deal if the product has bad reviews.

Don’t Forget About Cyber Monday Deals

Many traditional shoppers scoff at Cyber Monday, which is a mistake. In reality, Cyber Monday deals can be just as lucrative and a lot more convenient. From the comfort of your own home, you can find and purchase everything from cologne to flat-screen TVs. Pro tip: Some retailers extend Cyber Monday deals for the entire week after Thanksgiving. This reduces pressure to buy items immediately, though hot-ticket purchases may sell out early.

Shop Early to Avoid Extra Shipping Charges

One of the main reasons to shop right after Thanksgiving is that you won’t get nickeled-and-dimed on last minute charges. This is especially true when it comes to shipping. Stop shopping by mid-December so you’re guaranteed to get your items on time without extra shipping fees. Remember that all retailers are bombarded with orders during the last six weeks of the year. They are apt to increase the costs of expedited orders as the holidays grow closer because they’re working overtime to fill them.

Take Advantage of 2-for-1 Sales

Some of the most underappreciated deal opportunities are the 2-for-1 sales. From shirts to bath towels to paperback books, the rare 2-for-1 deal is literally a freebie. When you find one, make the purchase and find a person to gift the second item to. Extra 2-for-1 items can always be used for professional gift exchanges or when another family member decides to attend your celebration at the last minute. Having these extras on hand saves you from expensive last-minute shopping.

Look to Social Media for Limited Time Offers

As Consumer Report points out, some retailers release discount codes exclusively over their social media channels. 2   Start following your favorite stores on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now. On or around Black Friday, check their pages for special offers aimed at people who “Like” their pages or share a specific post. Some retailers even offer giveaway raffles over social media, so you may save huge and win a big-ticket item for free. Clark Howard, the financial advice site, also recommends signing up for emails with your favorite retailer in advance. 3

two women holiday shopping holding wrapped gifts

Want to save big within your budget? Keep your eyes peeled for discounts, deals and savings starting the week before Thanksgiving. When you shop early, you lock in great prices on available inventory, and your savvy nature pays off big. When in doubt, use your web-sleuthing skills to find retailers near and far with end-of-year bargains. And remember to check out www.merrickbank.com/gospecialoffers to learn about the offers and discounts exclusively for Visa cardholders.

Sources:

1. “10 Tips to Get the Best Black Friday Deals,” The Balance, November 25, 2016, https://www.thebalance.com/getting-black-friday-deals-951870.

2. “Top Ten Black Friday Shopping Tips for 2016,” Consumer Reports, November 7, 2016, https://www.consumerreports.org/holiday-shopping/top-10-black-friday-shopping-tips/.

3. “25 secret Black Friday shopping tips revealed,” Clark Howard, November 25, 2016, http://clark.com/shopping-retail/secret-black-friday-shopping-tips-revealed/.