Gifts can take a huge chunk of the budget each year, especially during the holidays.
It’s hard not to think about the holidays when the day after Halloween we are BOMBARDED with ads featuring holiday music and decorations. I love Thanksgiving and wish we wouldn’t just skip over it like we seem to do. I refuse to decorate or play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. And I also refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving, or the blackest of Fridays. Despite my resistance to celebrating Christmas early, I do start planning my shopping in October or November by budgeting and looking for deals. Which is why I use these practical ways to save money on gifts all year long!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and want to buy everything you think your friends or family wants. But for most of us, this is not reality and we need to be careful about how much we spend so we aren’t still paying it off in June.
Each year I set a number I want to spend on everyone on my list and go from there. If the item they want doesn’t fit in that number then I am off to figure something else that they might like just as much.
But SOMETIMES I just can’t think of another item or I feel that item is the perfect gift for them. And of course, I want to see them smile so just buy it right? Instead, I find ways to save when buying that ideal item and hopefully I can get the cost closer to the budget this way.
Of course, I am not going to run around town and wheel and deal with different stores to buy the gift. I avoid shopping as much as I can since I usually cannot control myself. I love things and also love my money which can cause a major issue if I don’t reel it in.
To save myself from myself, and the marketing out there, I use these practical ways to save money on gifts. Usually without even leaving my couch!
Practical Ways to Save Money on Gifts All Year
Only Buy with Cash
This trick alone has saved me thousands. Seriously, THOUSANDS. Now cash may mean my debit card if I am shopping online but it is still cash. And if it isn’t in the account I can’t spend it.
If you don’t have the pain that goes along with spending cash you won’t pay attention to the cost as much. (I learned this from the always smart Dave Ramsey!) I seldom use credit cards and honestly don’t even have physical cards anymore. But that is a story for another post! All I know is that since I adopted this method my frivolous spending went way down!
Cashback Rebate Websites
This is a great practical way to save money on gifts any time of the year because you don’t have to search anywhere but their site. And it really adds up! If you sign up for Ebates using this link you will get $10 added to your account for your first purchase through them! You will be $10 ahead already!
Ebates is a cash back rebate site. You sign up and go through their site to your desired store. Once at the store of your choice, you shop like normal. The Ebates dashboard will register your purchase and add the cash back to your account. They offer as little as 1% cash back but often run promotions where I have received up to 16% cash back. Each quarter you can choose how you get your cash back. They offer checks or gift cards. It’s that simple.
The best part about Ebates is you can use this rebate on top of any sale or coupon code. It’s like online coupon stacking. They even list many of the current coupon codes so you don’t have to search the internet to find one. Less searching = Less time trying to find a deal!
TIP: You can use Ebates online to order in-store pickup items and they also offer some in-store purchases. I like to order online and choose to pick up in-store to avoid shipping and walking around the store! Where I am likely to buy more than I planned too! Instant savings!
TIP: Keep an eye on their emails. When I know I am going to make a purchase at a particular store I watch for an email from Ebates. They let me know when that store is having a sale and they usually offer a higher % cash back during the sale.
Note: I have also used the site Top Cash Back to get rebates on some purchases. The service isn’t really worth it to me even though they often offer more back. The rebate isn’t credited in what I consider a reasonable amount of time. One rebate took a couple of months before I received notification that it was approved. I had already long forgotten about that rebate! The only reason I do use them is because they may offer savings on a store that Ebates doesn’t partner with.
Retail Me Not
Since not every store partners with Ebates, I go to Retail Me Not to search coupon codes. They will let you know the success rate on each code so you can decide which one might be best for you. I usually consider if I will I save more getting free shipping or getting 30% off my purchase?
If you can’t find one here you can always search Google for the many other coupon code sites. This site has been around the longest and tends to make deals directly with the companies so their codes might be exclusive to Retail Me Not. I’ve always had better luck with them!
Many people, including myself, use this app for getting rebates on groceries and everyday items, which I strongly, strongly suggest doing! If you are new to rebate apps you should start with Ibotta. They offer the most rebates each week from the most stores. Sign up here and you get $10 in your account! or use referral code bjwrpxm in the app.
Not everyone realizes that they offer rebates on retail stores as well. I always take a look to see if they have any current rebates for my favorite stores and they usually have something. These rebates usually range from $5 -$15. All you have to do is scan the receipt in the app when you complete the transaction to apply for the rebate. They have a low threshold for cashing out considering how easy it is to get rebates on items you buy all the time.
Choose Ship to Store or Reserve In Store
More stores are offering options to let you ship an item you purchase online to in store to avoid shipping costs. This is especially helpful for larger items that may have much higher shipping costs. I saved $100 on shipping alone by buying R’s kitchen set in store a few years ago. $100 is a HUGE saving for one gift!
Another option stores offer, like Banana Republic, is to let you reserve an item online to guarantee it is there when you arrive to make the purchase. This saves you time and money! (and the cost of gas!) You don’t pay shipping and you don’t run the risk of the store being out of the desired item!
Amazon Prime Membership Or Prime Trial Membership
Unless something changes drastically with the benefits offered with a Prime membership you will continue to hear me rave about it.
I save the most money by shopping the Today’s Deals section and using the free shipping through Amazon. When I know there is something I want to purchase I start checking the deals of the day to see if it might be on sale. I may not always find that specific item but I usually can find a similar item or find another item I was planning to purchase while searching.
When it comes to the holiday season, you know you are going to be making multiple purchases. This is when having an Amazon trial membership makes the most sense! Take advantage of the free 30 days membership and order as many items as you can in that time period. You will save tons on shipping alone! Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
And a great gift idea for others is a Prime Membership! Especially for soon to be parents who won’t be leaving the house often when the baby arrives!
Discounted Gift Cards
Amazon offers discounted gift cards through their Today’s Deals section. This is a great way to save money on purchases at other stores because you are starting off by getting “free money”. And obviously you can save money on gift cards you plan to give to others this way as well. If you pair a $5-10 savings on the actual gift card with a sale and Ebates you could be saving big!
Another way to buy discounted gift cards is through your grocery store when they run promotions. My grocery store, Publix, recently ran a $10 off a $50 GAP brands gift card. I bought as many as I could since I shop those stores the most. To save big, I waited until a sale, went through Ebates, and used the discounted giftcard to make the purchase. Three ways to save on one purchase!
Oh yeah, and one more way is to buy previously “loved” gift cards through a third party website. I haven’t done this in a long time but I used to sell my unwanted gift cards to Plastic Jungle. They no longer exist but there are a few sites that are similar. You can either buy gift cards or list your cards through the site and get a percentage of the value by reselling it.
When buying gift cards this way a reputable site will guarantee the value you purchased to protect you. So if the code doesn’t work within the time frame they guarantee you have nothing to lose.
Check out these if you are interested in this option.
RetailMeNot – I didn’t realize they sell discounted gift cards on their site but they do!
Card Cash – You can buy and sell gift cards on their site.
One More Thing to Consider:
Store Cash is not savings. I know the Kohl’s Cash and Gym bucks loving crowd will be pissed at me, but oh well.
I dislike any store that requires me to make another purchase to save money. Unless I shop at that store every couple of weeks it’s not usually worthwhile. I’m not saving money if I have to buy more stuff. I want the savings then and there, and on the items I need to buy today, not in the future.
Plus, they try to create a sense of urgency with the “use it or lose it” way of saving. You end up running to the store right before it expires to find something, even if you don’t like it or need it. Don’t let them trick you on this!
The ONLY way it is a bonus is if I save big on a purchase and get store cash. No pressure to buy more to save the money I should have from the start!
My philosophy is that if I’m going to buy something anyways I might as well save some money when I do. Which is why I work hard to save as much as I can on each purchase I make. The small savings on each item add up quickly to big savings over time!
And who knows, you might just save enough to Treat yo Self this holiday season!
What are your favorite practical ways to save money on gifts?
This post is a part of the Friday Mom Life Blog Link Up Party at www.workingmommyabroad.com