Shopping around the holidays can be stressful in numerous ways. Staying within budget, fighting the crowds and the weather, and trying to find the best prices on products can bring out the Scrooge in all of us. With a little planning ahead, you could get your shopping done early this year, which allows you to enjoy more rum and eggnog. I’ll share with you some of the ways I attack bargain shopping throughout the year by using my laptop, iPhone, and iPad that’ll hopefully make shopping these holidays a little bit easier and cheaper.
One technique I use, especially around the holidays, is checking prices for products in-stores before we leave our house. If prices aren’t remotely close to what I can purchase them for online at a competitor, there’s no need for me to go out shopping. You just might discover shopping from home and spending a couple bucks on shipping will actually save you money in the long run. Once you factor in the time it will take you to get to the store and the money you’ll spend on gas, you might discover buying online is the best option. There are a few websites I like to use when searching for comparison prices: Amazon.com, Google.com/shopping or Pricegrabber.com. Price grabber recently scored fairly high in an evaluation completed by ShopSmart magazine.
Comparative shopping is great, but even better if retailers will match a competitors online prices. Advertised prices and online prices are two different things in the mindset of retailers. Home Depot pulled this fun little trick on me a while back. I comparatively priced an item and discovered Wal-Mart was cheaper. I took a screenshot of the online price I found while searching on my iPhone and showed the customer service representative at Home Depot. They informed me Home Depot only matches an items price and beats it by 10 percent if advertised in a flier or mail ad. I decided to purchase the item on Amazon instead and paid a few dollars more since I didn’t feel like driving to Wal-Mart after wasting time at Home Depot.
Be sure to call and check what a stores price matching policies are before heading out only to be disappointed when they won’t match an online price.
If you’re willing to hold off on purchasing items till December 18th, you might be able to save money on shipping. There are hundreds of online retailers willing to waive shipping charges on this date and most will even guarantee your items will arrive in time for Christmas. This is a great way to save quite a bit of money. You may not be able to find all the items on your shopping list later in the holiday season though. If you need a specific shirt size or color, this money saving technique may not be a good idea, which may leave you scrambling at the end for an alternative.
If you’re able to purchase an item online and pick it up in-store, this can save you shipping charges too. Budget minded shoppers looking to save money could use this free shipping option and have everything delivered to one city or shopping center where the stores you’ve purchased your items from are all located. By doing this, you could plan accordingly and make only one trip to pick-up all your loot on one day.
Some stores, like Best Buy, even offer prime parking spots in the front for those shoppers using in-store pickup. In 2014 Sears rolled out a mobile service allowing customers to pick-up items they’ve purchased online without ever leaving their car. Shoppers can use the ShopYourWay app and purchases can be delivered to their car within five minutes of arriving at the store or get $5 off your next purchase.
Make sure to take advantage of all the technology you have around you these days. During the online checkout process you’ll probably notice a text box where you’re able to enter coupon codes. This is a great opportunity to search for any coupon codes currently available online. You can either Google search “coupon codes (insert store name here),” or you can visit sites like RetailMeNot.com Coupons.com or DealScience.com where you can search for coupon codes for specific stores. I prefer to Google search for my coupon codes instead of visiting specific sites, but that’s just me. Sometimes this technique works and other times it doesn’t, but it’s worth a try and could save you a few bucks in the process.
While out shopping, make sure to price check items in your cart by using the Amazon App on your iOS device. Quickly scan the barcode or the front of the product and Amazon will quickly search for the same item or one closely resembling what’s in your cart. This is a great way to competitive shop with your iPhone in hand.
Even if you didn’t do your homework before heading out shopping, don’t be afraid to see if retailers will match a price you’ve discovered online. I was surprised when DSW matched the price I found while using the Zappos app in-store on a pair of shoes I wanted. I was hesitant at first to ask since I figured the answer would be no. I simply informed them I couldn’t pass up a $10 price difference when I was able to get one day shipping for free as a VIP Zappos member. They agreed and matched the price and I was out the door minutes later. Home Depot could stand to learn a lot from DSW! I’m sorry, I’m still a little bitter with them.
Last, and certainly not least, is by far my favorite way to save money since it’s with my iPhone and a free app called SnipSnap. This amazing lifestyle app has easily saved us over $200 since I downloaded it. All those coupons you get in the mail are easily stored in SnipSnap for you, as well as others, to use while out shopping. After setting up an account with SnipSnap, all you need to do is snap photos of your coupons and they’re saved to your profile. The next time you’re headed out shopping, make sure to have your iPhone and SnipSnap ready so you can let the savings pile up with your stored coupons.
Having your own coupons stored for use is great, but SnipSnap gives you access to coupons other users have saved. It’s like having a diversified coupon portfolio filled with savings! My wife and I use SnipSnap repeatedly while shopping for our 6 month daughter at Carters and buybuyBaby. Just make sure you add coupons to SnipSnap too so others are able to benefit from your coupons.
Holiday shopping is something all of us must do. Some of us are good at it, while others are not. I’m not a fan of heading out and fighting the crowds. I’ve always enjoyed finding ways to avoid fighting for parking spots, waiting in long checkout lines, and getting out in the freezing temperatures. Some of these techniques have allowed me to avoid the holiday shopping woes. When I do have to head out into the madness, my iPhone is right by my side helping me save some money. Armed with the right information and the right apps, saving money can be easier during the holidays.
(This is the 3rd article in the writing from my iPad series)