If there’s one thing the financial experts agree on this vacation period, shop early to get the best deals. And even if you do not plan to buy immediately, it is better to start tracking prices so you can shop when prices drop.
“We tend to see the lowest prices in the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as during those actual dates,” said Radhika Duggal, Marketing Director for the app. to save money. Super Shop. “It’s generally a good idea to start Black Friday shopping before the Black Friday holiday. We’re seeing more and more retailers release Black Friday on November 1 and keep it going for the entire month.
There are also other benefits to starting your holiday shopping as early as possible. “Amid ongoing supply chain challenges, holiday shopping early also increases the chances that highly coveted items are still in stock and can be shipped to you in time for the holidays,” said Marc Mezzacca, founder of the CouponFollow app. “According to a holiday shopping survey according to CouponFollow, 24% of parents said they would pay more than retail price to get a coveted gift for their child. By buying early, consumers can hopefully get ahead of demand and not have to pay more than the retail price.
Even if you miss the biggest holiday shopping weekend or start shopping ahead to space out your purchases, there are still plenty of other ways to stick to your budget this holiday season. Retail stores and e-commerce sites may not want you to know these money-saving secrets.
1. Wait for promo codes
Another expert in the “shop early” camp, Matt Smith – CEO of Near Apogee Consulting – suggests shoppers “plan to buy early and use the discount codes that follow.”
As a consultant specializing in e-commerce, Smith knows how it works: “Make a purchase but not for everything you want. The company can send you a thank you with a coupon code account. Some companies keep this coupon trail as long as you keep shopping. Just plan your purchases in advance, keeping in mind the free delivery thresholds for a double bonus.
2. Put items in your online shopping cart…and think about it
“Companies like to target first-time buyers,” Smith added. “If you put something in your cart and start checking out – making sure you enter an email address for your account and allowing communication from the site – companies can send three or more emails to try to keep you coming back. Usually on that third time around, they might include a discount, bonus like free shipping, or some other incentive!”
He urges online shoppers to wait up to 72 hours for the best discounts.
3. Take advantage of the free delivery day
If you love free shipping or just missed the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, wait until December 14 to finish shopping, experts tell GOBankingRates.
“This year, Free Shipping Day is December 14,” said James Angel, co-founder of DYL, an all-in-one business growth tool. “Many stores offer free shipping with no minimum purchase in addition to additional discounts. On Free Shipping Day, you can save a ton of money if you plan to buy the majority of your freebies online.
4. Get to know small businesses
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to shop on their local high streets or through online small business owners. You can even search for the “small business” tag on Amazon when shopping.
If you’re looking to get a head start on your vacation shopping, you might be able to land deals from small businesses or local businesses anytime. Smith advised, “Check local social media groups for mums, local areas or hobbies that interest you. Follow companies and engage with them. Start-up businesses need to spread the word. If you follow them and commit, you may be lucky enough to be first in line for promotions.
Some small businesses may offer you a discount if you ask. But if you share their posts and show your support, they’re even more likely to share savings with you.
5. Don’t forget to use your bonus money, discounts and gift cards
Big retailers rely on you to forget to use any bonus money or free gift cards you might receive, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady. Be sure to check your shopping bags for bonus money. If you shop at Target, be sure to receive your bonus gift cards. Also be sure to enter offers in the Target Circle app and scan the barcode at checkout to get all offers.
If you shop at Kohl’s, immediately enter your Kohl’s Cash into the app and set calendar reminders for when it’s active and when it expires. Save the Kohl’s Cash paper as some locations will accept it after it expires. But if it is only stored in the app, it will usually disappear after the expiration date.
6. Know the price matching policies at the stores where you shop
“A lesser-known way for shoppers to save more this year is to price match,” said Stephen Jacobs, chief innovation officer at Local mills.
Stores like Target, Best Buy, and Costco will match the price of their own products, and Target will also match the price of Amazon products. “Since prices vary widely throughout this time of year, shopping with brands that offer a price match is a great way to ensure you get the lowest price possible,” said Jacobs told GOBankingRates in an email interview.
If the store doesn’t match the price, said Melanie Musson – finance expert with Clearsurance.com – you can then return the item and buy it again at the sale price. “Most retailers will accept returns within 30 days if you have the receipt,” she said.
Chris Stevenson, CEO of VirtualRealityRental Las Vegas, agreed on the wisdom of keeping receipts. “This can be an essential part of your strategy when trying to do your holiday shopping before Black Friday. No matter how good we are at finding deals, there’s always a chance that a better one will come along. That’s why it’s so important to keep receipts,” he said.
7. Use apps to find the best deals
apps to save money like Honey, CapitalOne Shopping, Brickseek and SuperShop all help customers find the best deals online.
“I encourage consumers to spend and save in a structured way,” said Duggal of SuperShop. “Make a list of items you will need next month or for the holidays. Identify websites and stores where you can make comparisons, then track prices and offers. Buy when you feel things are at the lowest price. If you plan your shopping ahead, you can jump on a flash deal on sites like SuperShop and have a guilt-free purchase,” she said.
8. Take advantage of profession-related discounts
Sites like Zappos are offering 10% off to military, students and teachers, said Breanne Millette, founder and CEO of the jewelry brand KISSING. “If you can stack your business discount on a holiday sale, you might be able to stumble upon some really nice savings.”
9. Ask about senior discounts
Similarly, stores like Kohl’s, JOANN, Savers and Ross Dress for Less offer senior discounts of 10% to 20%. The definition of a senior varies between retailers. You don’t need to be ready to collect Social Security to qualify for these discounts, so be sure to ask. Some discounts are available for buyers under the age of 50.
You are not senior? Use your AARP card anyway.
You don’t have to be a senior to be eligible for AARP membership. You can use your card to get discounts at chain restaurants to stock up on great food, as well as many online and physical retailers.
10. Make a budget and stick to it
Whether you’ve been looking for holiday deals since the kids went back to school or you’ve been waiting until Black Friday to save money, being a savvy shopper means staying within your holiday budget.
“It takes discipline, but a list should point you in the right direction and keep track of your spending,” says Nathan Astlefinancial therapist for Beyond finance. “Think about gifts, entertainment, travel and expenses. Be generous, but don’t stray from the list.
Should you buy holiday gifts early or wait until later?
Stevenson said, “Any kind of tech toy needs to be ordered or bought in store early. These types of items are incredibly popular during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you wait until after to buy a tech item for the holidays, it might be out of stock.
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As tempting as it may be to do all your shopping early, be sure to approach the season with a strategy, Astle said. “I encourage buyers to inquire about upcoming sales, especially large items like electronics or appliances, but be careful. A common pitfall is buying everything at once instead of staggering purchases, which can increase stress levels and put you in debt.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Holiday Shopping Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You To Know