13 Best Ways to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday—that's amateur hour. These holiday shopping tips will help you save big bucks on your own.

Track prices online


Websites like Amazon and Bestbuy.com are constantly adjusting the prices of items, meaning savvy shoppers can keep their eye out for savings if they check back frequently. But who has the time to refresh every few hours? Try camelcamelcamel.com: Search for any item (say, a Furby for the kids) and track its price history—it'll show you a graph and the highest and lowest price positions it's had over the past several days. Close to the lowest point? Snatch it up now.

Believe in the Invisible Hand

Invisible Hand

If you're big on online shopping, visit getinvisiblehand.com to install the Invisible Hand extension on your computer or download the official iPhone app. Whenever you're browsing for items online from retailers like Lowe's or Sears, it'll automatically search alternatives and notify you if there's a better deal elsewhere.

Try shopping on a Tuesday


According to a recent New York Times report, online retailers tend to offer the best deals on Tuesdays. Better yet, try Tuesday morning: That same report suggests sales tend to go live early.

Content continues below ad

You can also try shopping late

It's true that sales start in the early morning hours, but Business Insider notes that if you shop after 6:00 p.m., some retailers will already have sales for the next day activated, allowing you to get great deals without setting your alarm.

Haggle away!

You may not like to do all of your shopping online, but it can still help to check websites for deals. Retailers like Target will price match if you ask the cashier, says The New York Times.

It's okay to procrastinate

Consumer Reports actually says the best deals on coveted electronics tend to come after Black Friday and the so-called "Cyber Monday" and before December 13. The New York Times says you can wait even later, with the best deals actually coming the week before Christmas.

Content continues below ad

Don't buy clothes before Christmas

Dedicated bargain site DealNews.com knows that sales on apparel can be tempting, but explains it's much better to wait for clearance discounts in January. Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't expect a new itchy sweater from Aunt Millie.

Wait on booking those plane tickets

DealNews.com noticed that airfare for international travel is a much better deal in January and February, not November and December. The Caribbean can wait until Valentine's Day.

Use your own price scanner

Red Laser

If you have a smartphone, you can ring up your own items and see if you're getting a deal. Download the RedLaser app (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) and use it to scan barcodes: It'll pop up relevant deals online.

Content continues below ad

Don't calculate in your head

Discount Calculator

Maybe in a clear state of mind, you're great at math, but who knows what stress can do to your brain? Try an app like Discount Calculator (iOS, Android, Windows Phone): You input the price of the item, any relevant markdowns, and any sales tax so you can see exactly how much you're spending.

Make a list

Have you heard of "decision fatigue"? According to The Atlantic, the more choices you make at once, the worse your judgment becomes. One way around grabbing too many items or overspending is to make a simple list of specific gifts you're looking for and referencing it throughout the day.

Load your iPod with soothing music

Mark Ellwood, author of Bargain Fever, recently told TIME that stress can actually make you spend more. He suggests listening to calming music when shopping to avoid busting your wallet.

Content continues below ad

Get social


When looking for gifts for others—especially when it comes to clothes, bags, and similar—try visiting Pinterest for inspiration. Chances are, you'll stumble across boards curated by others with great ideas you never would have thought of. 

View as Slideshow

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.