How to Shave Up to 90 Percent Off Your Holiday Spending This Year
Don’t just survive the holiday shopping season. Emerge victorious—with a lot more money left in your bank account.
Simple shopping tips equal big savings
Expensive outfits, nights out, and hefty gifts have a way of wiping out our cash balances during the holidays. But it doesn't have to be that way. Although some expenses can't be avoided, there are smart ways to make the dent in our bank accounts a lot smaller. We spoke with some top shopping experts to bring you the tips and tricks you might not know about but you really should—because they're guaranteed to save you a bundle.
Show your loyalty and save up to 5 percent
If you don't join a store's loyalty rewards program, you're missing out on one of the easiest ways to save. "Sign up with the stores you know you'll be shopping during the holidays to take advantage of extra savings," says Bethany Hollars of BrickSeek.com, noting that most major retailers offer these programs. "Stores like Kohl's, JCPenny, Best Buy, Petco, Ulta, and Dick's Sporting Goods all offer percentage discounts—usually around 2 to 5 percent—when you use your loyalty card at the time of your purchase." Another pro tip? Be on the lookout for free or discounted shipping for loyalty rewards members. Loyalty programs can also lead to big savings when it comes to travel. These are the best hotel rewards programs—ranked.
Pocket 5 percent with Target's RedCard
Hollars says that some of the best deals she's seen in years are courtesy of Target. "We've seen steep discounts on TVs, KitchenAid mixers, and Apple products," she says. For even bigger savings, stack discounts and use your Target RedCard at checkout. Simply using your card should ring in an additional 5 percent of savings on your entire purchase. And here are 11 more money-saving secrets Target employees won't tell you.
Earn 15–20 percent by cramming your inbox with deals
How can you figure out when you'll save the most? Retailers will tell you! You just have to sign up for the store's emails and pay attention when they hit your inbox. "Compile your list of must-shop stores, and a few days before the shopping season, join those stores' email lists," Hollars advises. "Many of them will send you special welcome offers, like 15 percent off your next purchase or $20 off $100." This is one of the easiest and less labor-intensive ways to save. Don't miss these other tips on how to coupon, according to people who save thousands every year.
Head to Kohl's and get up to 30 percent back
"One of the absolute best places to shop on Black Friday is Kohl's," says Hollars. Why? The Kohl's Cash program. "During Black Friday, Kohl's offers $15 Kohl's Cash for every $50 you spend—that's a 30 percent savings," she explains. Kohl's Cash can be used during a set time frame in the upcoming weeks toward any purchase. Here's an example of what that could mean for you: The Xbox console that costs $200 everywhere else will cost you only $140. While you can get huge discounts the day after Thanksgiving, make sure you're choosing your discounted items wisely and avoiding these common Black Friday shopping mistakes.
Save up to 90 percent by making a game out of gift-giving
While having so many wonderful people in your life to celebrate the holidays with is, well, wonderful, it can also be really expensive. That's why Brittany and Kelan Kline, the dynamic duo behind the personal finance blog The Savvy Couple, decided to change the rules of gift-giving—and save themselves up to 90 percent of what they'd spend otherwise. Instead of getting a gift for each and every family friend they wanted to see over the holidays, they decided to buy only one gift and host an annual white elephant party instead. This way, everybody still feels like they're part of the giving and receiving, but wallets aren't drained in the process. Plus, it's fun!
Take advantage of your wholesale-club membership
Paying for a yearly price-club membership and not doing some of your holiday shopping there is the equivalent of throwing money down the drain. "Price clubs offer exclusive deals to their members that you can't get elsewhere," says Trae Bodge, a lifestyle journalist who specializes in smart shopping and personal finance. She also advocates for buying in bulk, which can save you up to 40 percent. Here's another useful money-saving tip you might not have thought of: Buy one giant gift basket and break it up into smaller gifts for hosts or teachers, suggests Bodge. By the way, here are 16 things to always buy at Sam's Club.
Populate your browser with money-saving extensions
If you're shopping online this holiday season (and who isn't?), install a browser extension for even more savings. "By installing a free browser extension like Invisible Hand, you'll be alerted of better pricing elsewhere as you shop," says Bodge. "Savings could be a few cents or many dollars! Invisible Hand will also find and test coupons for you." Bodge also likes cash-back browser extensions like Rakuten or Swagbucks. As you shop, you'll be alerted to savings instantly. Don't miss these other easy ways to save money online.
Use an app to keep tabs on price drops
Bodge has one more high-tech tip to save you moola during the holidays. "You probably know that many retailers offer price adjustments if you find a lower price elsewhere," she says. "But you're probably not taking advantage of the offer because you're too busy." There's a simple automated solution to help counter that: Paribus can be linked to your email. This app from Capital One will find price drops and even request a refund on your behalf. Here are more of the best coupon apps of 2019.
Shop year-round for savings
"Instead of only giving yourself two to three months to shop during the holiday season, I start shopping the day after Christmas for next year," confesses Melissa Garcia, founder of the popular blog Consumer Queen. "Everything is 50 to 75 percent off! I also shop year-round, hitting up specials and clearance deals from other holidays." She swears by this because it not only saves her money—it also saves her a ton of time and hassle since she doesn't have to stand in long lines or fight for parking during the holiday shuffle. If you find yourself shopping way too close to the holidays, despite your best efforts, check out these last-minute Christmas gifts with free overnight shipping.
Tackle it IRL
David Ewart, director at the U.K.-based home store Pavilion Broadway, has an old-school approach to keeping more money in your bank account. "One of the best methods of gaining a discount is simply making direct contact with a business and saying that you have seen the product cheaper elsewhere," he says. "Even if retailers don't have a price-match strategy, more often than not they will be delighted to provide you with a small discount in order to secure the sale." Here are 50 more insider secrets to help you save at all your favorite stores.
Use online retail marketplaces
If you're shopping for someone who goes gaga over designer brands, we've got a savings solution for you. Anna De Souza, chief stylist at Mercari, says you can save up to 70 percent on brand-name apparel or consumer-electronics purchases by shopping on online resale marketplace apps like Mercari. "A surprising amount of listings on Mercari are actually brand new, with tags and never worn," she says.
And don't be afraid to give previously owned items as gifts from sites like this. "A recent poll of U.S. adults shows that 60 percent are fine with receiving an already used item as a gift," De Souza explains. This probably goes without saying, but just in case: That's a lot different than grabbing something out of the back of your closet. Still, there's a time and a place for regifting, and here are 7 clever ways to shamelessly regift this holiday season.
Consolidate heavy spending to save up to 20 percent
Mass retailers approach deals differently than smaller shops—and you should use that knowledge to your advantage. "Many places like Target, Kohl's, and Macy's give a substantial one-time discount if you open a credit card with them," says Tory Schalkle, a former buyer for Target. "If you don't already have a credit card with them, consider bundling as many items as you need with one retailer, buy it at one time, and open a credit card during that purchase to get substantial savings." You should also know these other smart suggestions regarding when you should open a store credit card—and when you really shouldn't.
Save up to 20 percent by purchasing store-brand versions of products
Schalkle also advocates for buying store-brand versions of the products you want to gift this year. "This is especially applicable for holiday decor, cooking, baking, and clothes," the shopping consultant says. "Unless you're really picky, store brands like Target's 'Up & Up' brand have similar-quality products at a discounted price. Many times, brand-name manufacturers are making these products, just at slightly reduced specs." Next, check out these secret store policies that will help you save even more money—during the holidays and beyond.