12 Smart Ways to Save Big on Christmas Shopping

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but your wallet can still be delightful. And since we’ve got gifts to give, let us find the ways to save! Yay!

Yes internets, it’s that time of year when the turkey leftovers and that tryptophan stuff have settled in our stomachs. After awakening from the holidaze slumber, it may be time to turn our attention towards Christmas. Now, I’m not big on the whole Christmas consumeritis thing that turns many smart people into spending splurgers.

top 10 christmas gifts

But, I do love to find frugal ways to celebrate the holidays without spending a bundle. So to get you into the holiday spirit, here are 12 smart ways to save big on Christmas shopping.

1. Go online shopping

Skip the stores and save yourself some holiday grief by going online shopping to save a bundle. Many retailers offer online holiday sales and specials that aren’t available in stores — especially on Cyber Monday! So get clicking online before stepping foot in the mall to save 10% to 60% on everything from books to electronic gadgets like the Kindle. Just be sure to get free or cheap shipping before hitting the checkout — there’s no sense in killing your deal with costly shipping charges.

2. Shop with secret online coupons

Paying full price for anything when a better deal can be found can turn any Santa into a Scrooge. Bah Humbug! To get shoppers into stores, many retailers offer online printable coupons to boost Christmas cheer with big savings. So before buying that perfect gift, get online and search for coupons by entering the retailer’s name and then “coupon code”.

Check out these 8 Stealth Ways to Uncover Big Savings with Secret Online Coupons for even more ways to save like Santa.

3. Dump department store credit cards

When the cashier at your favorite department store offers you a huge discount on your holiday wares just for opening a store credit card, do your wallet a favor and take a pass. Those pesky credit cards offered by retailers carry huge interest rates that can chew into any deal if not paid off. Carrying numerous credit cards can also hurt your credit score, and no one wants to take a credit hit just after the holidays.

Want to pay off your balance sooner? Try this Credit Card Calculator to see how paying more than the minimum balance can make a HUGE difference this holiday. Results may shock you!

4. Use cash this Christmas

Save yourself some credit card shock tomorrow by spending only the cash you have today. Besides, you could save a few bucks by using cash and asking the store to cut your cost by the 2% to 3% interchange fee that banks charge retailers for credit card transactions. Become a really sneaky shopper by trying these 5 Ways To Screw Your Credit Card Company.

5. Skip brand names, buy generic

Don’t believe the expensive marketing hype behind many brand name products. Marketing costs big bucks and you’re paying for that cost every time you buy a brand name. Besides, brand name items are not necessarily better than the lesser-advertised alternatives. By purchasing quality generic products this holiday you can save 10% to 50% on gift giving.

6. Be brave, ask for a discount!

Get over your silly shyness and ask the store manager, “Is this the best price you can offer me?” You may be surprised by how often a retailer will give you 10% to 15% off the sticker price just for asking. Asking for a discount is free and saving 10% in under five minutes of work is time well spent.

7. Find bargains in bulk

Cut the cost of your holiday meals by up to 60% by buying bulk grocery items. Bulk bins are a fabulous way to save some bargain bucks on candy for stocking stuffers, baking goods for delectable desserts, and going nutty over holiday nut mixes. You’ll also find huge savings on rice, pasta, spices, and lots of mixes for the big family dinner.

8. Wrap gifts without wrapping paper

Pass on the glittery gift bags and shiny rolls of gift wrap. Wrapping paper is big business and can add to the cost of even the most frugal of gifts. Instead, get crafty by wrapping your gifts in something useful, like a reusable shopping bag. If you’ve got a baby gift then swaddle it in a baby blanket. But if you’ve gotta have that pretty paper then stock up on wrap after the holidays, when it’s 50% off.

Want more wrapping ways? Check out these 11 Ways to Wrap Gifts without Wrapping Paper and top that gift with one of these 6 Printable Holiday Gift Tags.

9. Make it a homemade holiday

Get the family on budget while having some fun by making it a homemade holiday. If you’re a shutterbug then get the family together for a photo. If you’re crafty then knit a scarf, make some ornaments, or sew something special like a Softie Christmas Tree or a Sling Backpack. For those who love baking, go ahead and get creative with cookies, cakes, and sweets. Got a hiker in your family? Then make some homemade granola!

If you’re less handy but love a fun treat, then try these 8 Homemade Gifts in a Jar — the S’mores in a Jar are super cute!

10. Keep ALL your receipts

Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, always keep your receipts. Retailers want your holiday cash so they discount and mark down items often, so there’s always a chance that the gift you bought yesterday is on sale today. If you find a price cut on a recently purchased gift, bring in your receipt and ask for a price adjustment. Most store managers will give you the better deal up to ten days after your purchase if you have the receipt. So just ask to get your discount!

11. Make a list and check it twice!

Be like Santa by writing a Christmas gift list to plan out your budget and time. There’s no sense in going over budget on a gift because you ran out of time on Christmas Eve. A well-planned list can also help you curb impulse shopping when the flashy holiday displays catch your attention.

To get you started, download the Free Printable Grocery Shopping List and plan your dinner sooner — it’s easier to catch a sale or find a coupon when you’ve got a shopping list ready to go!

12. Donate a cow

Talk to your family this year and consider starting new Christmas traditions by donating your holiday gift budget to charity. Organizations like Heifer International represent thought provoking gift ideas that go beyond the space underneath your Christmas tree. Gifts to Heifer International can include a Cattle share for $50, a Llama share for $20, or a Sheep share for $10. All livestock shares and donations can help families achieve self-reliance, can give a steady supply of nutrition in the form of products like eggs and milk, and can provide a dependable source of income from the sale of products like wool, honey, and produce. Think about making a real difference this holiday by donating to any number of charities this Christmas.

Your Two Cents: Got a smart tactic for cutting costs on Christmas shopping? Get into the spirit and share. ;)

Your two cents:

  1. KJB November 30th, 2009

    That puppy looks so cute all dressed up. She could be a gift, but I know that puppy is staying with you.

  2. Kerry November 30th, 2009

    @KJB LOL! Indeed, that doggy is staying put. ;)

  3. Elizabeth Ball November 30th, 2009

    A few more cost-saving ideas:
    1. Wrap all presents within one large parcel, adding tags only to save confusion and sheets of paper.
    2. Buy your giftwrap from a floral supplies wholesaler. Choose a sheet design that will do for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day (you get the picture) eg stars, stripes etc.
    3. Send a food gift hamper to a family – that covers several presents for less per person than singular presents
    4. Check if the online retailer has a 10% discount for your birthday or something like that and enter a fake birthday that is in a couple of days time so you can use the discount in time for Xmas shopping
    5. Use retailers who provide free gift wrapping – voila!

  4. Caitlin December 1st, 2009

    Besides, you could save a few bucks by using cash and asking the store to cut your cost by the 2% to 3% interchange fee that banks charge retailers for credit card transactions.

    Speaking as a former cashier, please, please do not do this, especially not around the holidays. If you really, really feel you must do it, talk to the manager ahead of time and bring them to the cash with you. In general, a cashier (the person most people would ask to do this, since it would naturally come up when they ask how you will be paying for your purchases) does not have the power to do this, even if they wanted to. The computer and/or cash system will not let them. All asking a cashier to give you a cash discount will do is waste time, create a line of annoyed holiday shoppers behind you, and make the cashier feel bad (both for not being able to help you, and for making all the other people in line wait longer).

    I know you probably meant “ask the store” as in “ask the manager”, but things like that need to be clarified to save the poor cashier’s sanity at this time of year. ;)

  5. Bobby December 2nd, 2009

    Instead of wrapping paper, we use the Sunday comics in our family. Great tradition, and it saves.

  6. Jason December 2nd, 2009

    Love # 12 – always good to think outside our own selfish desires!

  7. Aja January 29th, 2012

    It’d be easier and more worth your time to negotiate over a price if you bought a gift off of craigslist, ebay, or even a flea market. Big department stores normally offer many sales throughout the year anyway, and it would be more hassle than it’s worth to try to find the manager during the busy holiday season!

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