Procrastinators, unite! Try these smart strategies to save money on your last-minute shopping.
Time is ticking away—and you still have a whole list of gifts to get. Don't worry! We've got you covered with smart tips to help you get those last-minute purchases covered, without breaking the bank.
1. Take advantage of pick-up-in-store options. Too late for free shipping? Shop online at stores that offer in-store pickup, and skip the craziness in the aisles and the long checkout lines—you'll save time as well as money. (And bonus: You can still use online coupons to cut the price even more.)
2. Scout out price cuts. Deep discounting now often starts in the week leading up to Christmas, so you may be able to get a great gift at a fraction of the cost. "Take advantage of clearance buys or cute items from the Bullseye Playground at local Target store," says Miriam Wartell, a money-saving blogger and consumer expert at The Kosher Coupon Lady. "Showing people you care doesn't have to cost a fortune."
3. Capitalize on coupons. "In order to save big, it's important to be strategic when shopping at retail stores," Wartell says. "There are so many money-saving options available, especially now that coupons are mobile. For instance, Target's Cartwheel mobile app makes it easy to save. Simply download the app and redeem the offers." You may be able to capitalize on more than one coupon, but sometimes it pays to split your transaction, for instance, so you can maximize your savings. Consider this: If you've got both a $5 off a $15 purchase coupon and a 20% off coupon for a store, and you're buying a desk lamp for $15 and a bath mat for $6, which coupon do you use? While most people would say the $5 off $15 coupon, the answer is actually both, says Wartell. "The best thing to do is to split your transactions and use the $5 of $15 on the desk lamp and the 20% off on the $6 bath mat. You always want to use your dollars-off coupons on items closest to the minimum amount you have to spend in order to use the coupons."
4. Don't blow your budget. When you're scrambling, it can be tempting to just snag the first suitable gift you see, budget be damned. But now is no time to panic! "Before you make any purchases, make sure what you're buying is for someone on your list and not an impulse buy," Wartell says. "And always have a budget a mind."
5. Wrap up an IOU. If your gift recipient can be patient, it sometimes pays to wrap up an IOU and get them something special after the fact—especially if it's one of those uber-popular gifts that ends up getting sold out and marked up on Ebay. You'll buy yourself a little time, and you may end up getting a better price on the gift.