Save More with Top 6 Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips

The holiday shopping season is upon us and expectations are high for big spending. According to the National Retail Federation’s recent survey, holiday shoppers plan to spend an average $463 on family members, up from $458 last year, making this the highest amount in survey history. Additionally, average spending per person is expected to reach $805, with more than half of shoppers planning to splurge on non-gift items for themselves.

That’s a lot of money for anyone to spend in such a short period of time. If you haven’t been setting aside funds all year long to make these purchases, you might find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of overspending or, worse yet, end up with credit card debt. Even though Black Friday is just around the corner, you can still take a few last minute steps to help yourself maximize shopping savings and stay on budget.

Here are the top 6 last minute holiday savings tips from the Money Clouds™ team:

1.       Use social media to help you save

Many companies announce flash sales or sample sales on their social media pages before announcing events via their website or mailing list. Make sure to follow your favorite stores so you don't miss out. Keep in mind that Black Friday flash sales usually have limited quantities, so it's important to act quickly to score those deals.

If you don't want to clutter your personal Twitter feed with too much corporate filler, set up a second Twitter account just to follow your favorite stores, brands, and manufacturers and watch that feed for sales.

Search hashtags for deals and see what deals other people have found today. Hashtags such as #holidaydeals or #flashsales can be a good place to start, but experiment to find the right keywords for your particular interests.

Also, take advantage of deal curators that you can follow on Twitter, like DealNews, as well as savvy bloggers who have an eye for savings and can tip you off to hand-picked deals too.

2.       Set a budget

In an ideal world, we’d all make budgets for the things we want to buy. The great news is that it’s now easier than ever to do this with Money Clouds. This holiday season, create individual Money Clouds for each major item you want to purchase or set aside a single Money Cloud for all your shopping needs. By doing so, you’ll know exactly how much money you want and have available to spend, making it less likely that you’ll go over budget. No one wants to ring in the New Year with credit card debt.

3.       Practice the art of abandoning your shopping cart

Did you know that if you put items into your online shopping cart and don’t checkout that retailers will often send you a coupon code to finish your purchase? Yup, that’s right. Savvy companies will send you a reminder email that you’ve “forgotten to checkout” and sometimes throw some added savings your way, like free shipping. So if you’re not worried about a particular item going out of stock quickly, be patient and try abandoning your shopping cart to see if you can score some extra savings.

4.       Social savings

Saving money doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. With technology like Money Clouds, you can create an account to socially share your goals for big ticket purchases. Let’s say you have your heart set on a new entertainment system – HDTV, Xbox, surround sound speakers, 3D viewing, the works – but can only afford a fraction of the price tag. With Money Clouds, you can connect with friends and family and have them contribute funds for the holidays to help pay for this sweet set up. Not only do you get the entertainment package of your dreams, your friends and family don’t have to rack their brains to figure out what to buy you and they can contribute as much or as little money as they can afford.

5.       Do your homework

There’s a common misconception that Black Friday/the year-end holiday season is the best to time shop for everything. The truth is, you can get great deals on highly coveted items throughout the year. You just need to spend a little time to do some research.

Take appliances for instance. According to MoneyCrashers, the best time to buy most major appliances is during the months of September and October. During these two months, manufacturers unveil their latest models. This means that the previous year’s models must be discounted in order to make room for the new models that will hit stores in the winter.

Consumer Reports put together a pretty sweet list of “When to Buy to Get the Lowest Price on Products” – check it out here.

6.       Use gift card sites

Lastly, take advantage of gift card resale sites. These are sites where people sell their unused gift cards at a discount to recoup some money for themselves and pass on savings to you. You get the full remaining value of what’s on the card without having to pay for that value at full price. Cardpool and Raise are two great sites to check out. You can get physical gift cards that they’ll mail to you (for free) or online GCs that you can use right away. Then you have the option to shop with the GCs yourself or give them away as gifts. Some GCs have steep discounts (20% and up), but even if it’s only 5% it’s still a 5% savings. And in our book every penny counts.

Happy Saving!

Charlee Van Wagenen