How to Finesse the Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday shopping season can be an overwhelming experience, even in the best of times. But when prices seem to keep getting higher while your take-home pay stays the same, it can feel downright impossible.

All is not lost, however. There are still ways for savvy shoppers to get everything they want without breaking the bank. Read on for some pro tips about how to get the most out of your holiday shopping season this year.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Plenty of holiday shoppers wait until the last minute to buy gifts, thinking they’ll get better deals. Don’t fall into this trap. Shop early and take advantage of deals whenever they pop up. Amazon is hosting a Prime Big Deal Days promotion this year in early October. That’s a good opportunity to get started on your holiday shopping list if you haven’t already.

Speaking of sales events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer opportunities for reduced-price shopping. But the best day to buy depends on what you’re looking for. Black Friday is often better for big-ticket, electronic purchases (think big-screen TVs and gaming consoles). You might find better deals from online clothing retailers on Cyber Monday.

You can find some genuinely good deals during these traditional sales events. But the bottom line is — don’t wait around for sales. If you see a gift item on your list at a lower price than normal, jump on it before it’s too late.

Keep an Eye Out While Scrolling Social

People use apps like TikTok and Instagram for inspiration and ideas on what to buy. Social can be a great way to discover products you weren’t even aware of. But it can also be a good source of deals during the holiday shopping season (and beyond).

Popular brands like Nike, Sephora, and Gymshark are among those that work with social media influencers to promote their products. You can get personalized discount codes directly from these influencer accounts. In plenty of cases, influencer discount codes can save you 10% to 20% on your purchases.

Use Price Comparison Apps

You’re likely already aware of price comparison apps like ShopSavvy, Buy Via, and Price Grabber. If not, it’s time to download these free services immediately. While each has slightly different features, they all allow you to compare prices for the same item across different retailers.

A few mobile comparison apps like ShopSavvy allow you to scan bar codes at stores and compare online prices with what’s right in front of you. Others, like BuyVia, offer browser extensions that show prices from other retailers anytime you’re purchasing something online. Coupon apps like Honey show you discounts or promo codes for items in your shopping cart.

If you’re not using one — or more — of these apps, start now. They’ll help you make sure you’re getting the best price for every item on your holiday shopping list.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Deals

When you’re shopping in person, know that the store manager often has the authority to negotiate or price match. It almost never hurts to at least ask whether a better price is available. Studies from Consumer Reports consistently show that customers willing to ask for discounts are frequently rewarded.

This doesn’t mean you should walk into your local store loudly demanding discounts. An adversarial approach is less likely to work than a friendly one. Doing a little research beforehand also helps; if you can let the salesperson know you’ve seen a similar item online at a lower price, they just might be willing to match.

A willingness to pay cash is also a plus. Businesses pay fees on credit card transactions. For smaller retailers, in particular, this can be a big deal. You’re more likely to get the discount you’re seeking if you can help the retailer by paying with hard currency.

Use Store Apps for Flash Sales

If you already know where you’ll be doing your holiday shopping, downloading the store app is probably worth downloading. Major retailers like Macy’s and Target regularly offer flash sales and customized coupons via their mobile apps. This can be an easy way to score discounts without much effort.

Relatedly, be aware of your favorite store’s price-matching policies. Stores like Target and Best Buy offer a variety of price-matching deals. In Target’s case, they’ll match their prices for the entire holiday season, so if an item you bought last week goes on sale, you can get a refund for the difference.

Use a Cash Back or Rewards Credit Card

No matter how many discounts you get, even the savviest shoppers will spend some money this holiday shopping season. But when you do spend, make sure you’re doing it in the smartest possible way.

Using a cashback or rewards credit card will bring some of your holiday shopping dollars back to you. Cash back cards, as the name implies, will return some percentage (often between 1% and 5%) of your purchases. Those dollars can add up quickly during the holiday shopping season.

Rewards cards offer benefits, such as travel miles or hotel points, for every purchase you make. The best card for you is highly dependent on your personal situation. But make sure to choose something — you’re missing out if you’re not getting some benefit for the money you’re spending.

Clear Your Browsing Data

Many online retailers use dynamic pricing practices. This means that some online stores (including Amazon) change prices frequently based on a number of factors. You may see higher prices for items you’ve searched for multiple times (which retailers know based on your browsing data). While most stores won’t admit outright to doing this, it’s still a good idea to clear your browsing history (or use incognito mode) to make sure you’re not being upcharged.

Of course, the reverse can also be true. If you leave items in your shopping cart, you may get an email nudging you to complete the purchase and offering a discount to do so. Experiment with both these strategies to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Holiday Shopping Hacks

Ready to shop? The above information should give you a head start on getting the most out of your dollars this holiday shopping season. Whether you prefer to shop online or in person, employ as many of these shopping hacks as possible. Your bank account will thank you for it!


  • Chris Kane

    Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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