Money-Saving Tips Only Savvy Holiday Shoppers Know

Americans spend an average of $800 per year on holiday shopping. Are you getting the most bang for your buck?


Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine December 2013

mouse wire presentChris Lyons for Reader’s Digest

1. Hide Your Cookies
And we don’t mean Santa’s. Companies track online cookies to target shoppers with relevant ads, but browsing histories also reveal buyers’ budgets. If you’ve visited luxury sites, your search results may include merchandise that’s priced four times higher than it is at savings-oriented ones. Stick to budget-friendly sites to bump into prices 23 percent lower.

2. Track Prices Automatically
You don’t want to buy that expensive camera for your niece only to find it for half the price at a different site a week later. So check out PriceBlink, a free Web browser add-on that automatically scans more than 4,000 retailers as you shop and lists competitors’ prices. The result: Shoppers save about 17 percent on purchases. Another bonus is that the program lets you name your own price for a product; if the item drops to that amount or less, you’ll get an e-mail notification.

3. Procrastinate
Good (and cozy) things come to those who wait. Prices before Thanksgiving are artificially inflated to make Black Friday discounts seem more dramatic. Shop for soft goods, like scarves and sweaters, four to six business days before Christmas, when store managers start to think about shifting to new seasonal merchandise.

4. Tweet @ Local Businesses
If you and some friends want to make the same purchase, tweet at your favorite local shop—small businesses love social media—and try to negotiate a group discount. Another idea: Go through expired Groupon offers and nicely ask businesses if they can still offer you the same deal.

5. Look Online Before Visiting the Store
Even if you opt to shop in store rather than online, first check sites with user reviews and ratings, such as amazon.com and cnet.com, to determine which products have the most positive feedback. If the highest-rated items are cheaper online, ask the store to match the website’s price.

Sources: Real Simple, Men’s Health

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