Pumpkins, spiderwebs and apple cider are still the focus, but there's no denying that the holiday season is right around the corner. It may not yet even be November, but stores are already transitioning into their end-of-year deals, and in less than two weeks those costume shops will shutter in favor of pop-up retailers and holiday decoration superstores. While you may already have some idea of what you want to spend on gifts this holiday season compared to what you expect you'll actually spend, it's not too late to come up with a strategy that will save you big time. In fact, the sooner you put that plan together the better off you'll be. So take a look at these top five holiday shopping savings tips, and start the new year off with a bit of money left over for once.
When it comes to most of your shopping, the early bird truly does get the worm. If you must wait until after Thanksgiving to begin shopping, make sure you take advantage of those Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales. But if you don't have the stomach to face the chaos at the mall on those days, get your list together and get started right now. Most gift guides are already out, and if you take a look at the websites for your favorite stores you'll see a lot of early sales already in place. You'll save money while also guaranteeing you get your hands on that super popular gadget or toy before it disappears from the shelves.
The flipside of that coin is waiting for last minute deals to arise. As long as you don't get stressed out by impending holiday deadlines, consider waiting for certain items until mid-December. All the way up until a week before Christmas you will find the larger stores that carry a huge amount of stock offering great sales. Just remember that if you need to have anything shipped you must make those purchases by the 17th of December or they won't make it to their destination by Christmas.
Whether you shop now or later, use the internet to your advantage. Follow the Facebook and Twitter pages of your favorite brands, as you'll often see time-sensitive deals posted there that could save you as much as 50% if you act right away. Retailers will also offer internet-only coupon codes on their website and social networking sites. You have to be willing to check in every day, but if you do you'll always save money.
If you prefer to shop in the brick and mortar stores themselves, carry your smartphone with you to make sure you never pay more than you have to. Any time you see something you want to buy, do a quick search for the same thing online to make sure it isn't offered somewhere else cheaper. The difference may be lost due to shipping costs, but many retailers will give you that lower price if you can prove it is advertised by one of their competitors.
Finally, don't forget about the charm of homemade gifts. Sure, you might not get the same reaction that you would when gifting some latest fashion or video game, but it's not like you just threw together any old thing you found on clearance at the dollar store. Mix in one or two homemade gifts with your name brand purchases. Wrap them up nicely, and make sure they are thoughtful gifts that make sense for the person on the other end. You'll trim each person's gift budget slightly, and you'll probably find that homemade gift is the one they remember the most.