Christmas shopping may be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Christmas shopping may be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Everyone knows you can avoid the stress of crowded malls and competitive fellow shoppers by searching the internet for online deals, but many people don’t know exactly how to go about that. In fact, the internet is full of ways to save money during the holiday season, so this year, re-think your approach to gift shopping. Avoid the pitfall of January credit card debt and instead, be smart about your shopping. Take this handy guide to find the best deals online for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the many shopping days ahead.
Start by browsing – either online or in real life – for ideas for gifts you’d ideally want to buy for everyone on your list. Make a list with the names of all the people you plan to buy gifts for this Christmas, and then as you browse write a few potential ideas for gifts next to each game. Of course, not everything will be available at a discount or with a coupon, so make sure to give yourself a few options.
The first step to searching for online deals and discounts is to simply Google the object you want plus the word “coupon”. Ideally, you find many coupon sites offering discounts and you can click through them all to see which one offers the best deal.
But what if none of the gifts on your wishlist are available through discount or coupon websites? Then start your search from the homepages of such well known websites as:
If you’re determined to save money on holiday purchases this year and find the best deals possible, limit your search to what is exclusively available through coupon sites.
Many coupon sites also offer the option to give back while you do your Christmas shopping – an ideal choice for those looking to spread the spirit of the season during the holidays.
If you’re set on purchasing an item that apparently isn’t available at a discount through any coupon sites, you can at least find the lowest price possible by using Google Shopping. Type the product into Google, and then click on the “Shopping” tab at the top of the page. Then, click the drop-down menu on the right to choose “Sort by Price Lowest – Highest”. That way, you can rest assured you’re finding the lowest price available online.
Especially during the busy holiday shopping months, many sites will offer free shipping, especially on orders above a certain threshold. That means it makes sense to stick to sites like Amazon or Target where you can buy a wide variety of items for everyone on your gift list at once to save on shipping.
Pay attention to two things:
If you’re not seeing all of your friends and family in person this holiday but still want to send them a gift, you can purchase items to be directly shipped to them. As part of the check-out process, many sites offer options like gift wrapping or gift receipts in case the gift recipient may need to return or exchange the item.
If you buy many gifts on sites that host multiple vendors like Amazon or eBay, you may be buying gifts from separate vendors. Pay attention to this detail because separate shipping costs for each vendor can add up quickly.
You can also often find free shipping by searching for the item you want plus the term “free shipping coupons”. Sometimes, even if discount coupons aren’t available for the item you want to purchase, you can still find coupons that at least defray the cost of shipping.
If a Google search doesn’t turn up any free shipping coupons, you should also keep an eye out for sales that promise free shipping or discounts. E-commerce sites run free shipping promotions frequently and often – especially during the holiday high season. So those banners on the sides and middle of websites you often ignore? In the lead up to the holiday season, take the time to read these banners to scout out any upcoming sales.
Not only will your preferred e-commerce sites run free shipping promotions throughout the holiday season, but they’re also quite likely to hold bigger discount sales at various points throughout the season – most popularly, of course, on the most notorious shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If it’s an option for you, waiting until the post-Christmas shopping lull may also yield discounts – in an effort to boost a notoriously slow January shopping season, e-commerce sites also often run promotions early in the year. (Even if this tip doesn’t work for Christmas, it’s something to keep in mind for Valentine’s Day.)
FOREO always has great discounts on Black Friday, check back next year for an exclusive online deal.
So, when you’re scanning advertising banners in anticipation of the holiday season, note those advertising dates for upcoming sales. Set yourself a reminder in your phone calendar or write it down somewhere you will notice – then log on early that day to ensure you don’t miss the deals!
Unlike coupon sites, flash sales sites restrict their deals to a much more limited amount of time. Deal-of-the-day (also called flash sales or one deal a day) is an e-commerce business model in which a website offers a single product for sale for a period of 24 to 36 hours.
So how do you find out about these flash sales? By constantly checking flash sale sites? Don’t worry, there are easier ways:
Visit flash sale sites like Groupon and Ruelala and the first thing you’ll be presented with is a pop-up box to sign up for their newsletters. You’ll receive notice of all deals and sales straight to your inbox.
Get daily updates on your newsfeed from your favorite flash sales sites. Follow e-commerce sites like ideel and seize the opportunity to buy the ideal Christmas gift when you see it go on sale.
Sometimes when cross-checking item prices on eBay and Amazon, you’ll find small vendors selling items at a discounted price. Often these smaller private vendors have purchased the items originally at wholesale prices or through other kinds of sales and are therefore able to offer lower prices than the bigger retailers.
Under these circumstances, be wary of two things:
The larger site (Amazon, eBay) have their own shipping policies separate from individual vendors who may use their own third parties for shipping and charge their own unique shipping costs, so make sure you’re clear on the shipping rates before you check-out.
Smaller vendors are private parties selling items at their own discretion. Therefore, unlike larger corporate e-commerce sites, they may not have efficient mechanisms in place for managing customer complaints, shipping issues, or other problems that may occur during the purchasing process. Furthermore, if you’re buying from a private vendor, there’s no guarantee that the item you’re purchasing is the authentic, original product – you may be buying a factory reject or even a fake.
So how can you safely purchase an item with peace of mind that you’re getting what’s advertised to you? Of course there are no guarantees in life, but the best bet is to look at the customer reviews. Know what to look for – if a review sounds fake, it may very well be fake. If the item has a 97 percent rating, that might sound good – but if you scroll down and see there are only three reviews, two are 100 percent and sound fake, and the other is a one star review, that may be a red flag. You’re always taking a risk when purchasing an item with no customer reviews.
You may have heard that e-commerce is taking off in China, but back in Western countries we can take advantage of the low prices, too – even if you don’t read Chinese.
It’s simple – just visit Chinese online megastore Taobao World. Use your Chrome browser to visit the site, and then allow Google translate to change the page into English for you so that you can navigate the site hassle-free (aside from some occasionally amusing bad translations).
You’ll be surprised by how cheaply you’ll be able to purchase certain items – and the shipping isn’t that bad either. It’s much less expensive to ship from China to the US than from the US to China.
Keep in mind that your risk in assuring quality is even higher when purchasing from private vendors in China – you’ll often find fake items, which may be fine for you depending on your preferences, but if you want to return an item for a refund, shipping items back from the States to China may be prohibitively expensive, and communication with the vendor who is likely to speak only Chinese may be difficult. Checking the comments on the page can sometimes help, but as with sites in the U.S., be wary of fake reviews.
The safety of online shopping has improved tremendously over the years as technology has advanced to protect against identity theft and banks have improved security for credit cards. However, breaches do still occur and there are things you can do to guard against your credit card information being stolen.
A third party vendor like PayPal can work much like cash in a debit account, or you can link a credit or debit card to your account. PayPal protects your information better than paying with your card on a site directly. Plus, sites that accept PayPal payments are generally more established and trustworthy than those that do not.
When you create an account on a website, it’s tempting to simply save your credit card info there to save time and hassle the next time you make a purchase there. Hacks can happen, though, and sites have been infiltrated and stored credit card information stolen, so while the risk is low and security breaches rare, you may still play it safe by choosing not to store your credit card information on any sites.
Why would an online retailer need your social security number to complete a purchase? Do not provide such sensitive information and regard those sites that ask for it as untrustworthy.
Sometimes shopping while logged on to the local WiFi – over which any number of other users may also be logged on – can leave you vulnerable to infiltration. Avoid making purchases until you can sign on to your personal secure WiFi network at home.