If you like Christmas and also to save money, you probably need to do a bit of an effort, since most stores would like you to spend recklessly, not be frugal. You can still enjoy a great time together with your family and spend less, by following our next 20 tricks.
1. BUDGET! LIST! FOCUS!
I promise to not use caps-lock too much later in the article, but this needs to be well understood: we need a clear list of what we’ll purchase, a very strict budget and a lot of focus. As you’ll read in this article, the retailers are masters at making us spend more than we should, so by being well organized and focused we can still enjoy shopping, get some amazing deals and, why not, save money.
2. Don’t take your kids shopping with you
Of course, there are times when you don’t have anyone to rely on to baby sit the kids for few hours, so you’re forced to take them shopping with you. In this case make sure you discuss at home if and what they can buy and don’t let them linger too much in the store. Retailers know that a crying kid is a great way to empty your pockets, so there are many items for kids placed at their eye level.
By not taking them with you or by having a very clear ‘game plan’ you can do some shopping and save money you’d otherwise spend on various trinkets.
3. Try to ignore the beautiful displays
Any store has few places that are very nicely arranged. Some beautiful displays, with flowers and decorations, that are promoting few products. Usually these products are the most profitable for the retailer or they just want to get rid of the stock. If you don’t really need those products, just go to the regular aisles. As always, having a shopping list ready and being very organized will help you save money.
4. Don’t buy multiple items just because of the discounts.
A pretty sneaky tactic that makes us buy more (yes, I have fallen into this trap myself few times) is to give all kinds of offers that are supposed to help you save money: buy 2, get one for free, second item 50% off etc. You know these offers, they are everywhere.
Now, the fact you are purchasing 3 items, when all you needed was one, doesn’t mean you’re saving money, right? Sure, you can use such offers to stock on items you really need (and in that quantity). If it’s not the case, just get the items you need and don’t spend money you didn’t plan on spending in the first place.
5. Focus on the clearance items, if you’re after them and don’t fall for the highly prized ones
Most stores do provide clearance items, but they’re usually placed somewhere harder to find and also look messy. The idea is to get you to not want to look for what you came for and settle for the higher price items.
If you came to benefit from a clearance, just focus on those items. Be patient, while you turn the piles upside down to get what you came for.
6. Read online tutorials or watch demonstration videos
In some stores the salespersons can also provide various demonstrations with the products you would like to purchase. The bad thing is that some might also try to ‘up-sell’ more items, so you’re gonna lose money. If you really can’t turn your back and just say thanks, then get your information from online sources and just go to shop. It will mean you save some money, even if you do have to do some learning at home.
7. Don’t shop more just to get free shipping
As we already demonstrated, stores would do anything to part us with our money, so this trick is yet another one they employ to make us purchase more than we initially intended. If you purchase more items, the store will provide free shipping. Sure if you’re buying a TV set or a fridge, having someone carry it to your home is a great deal. If you do shop for smaller items though, use your car and don’t fall for the free shipping trick.
Related personal finance article: How to Save Money: Start Your Christmas Shopping in Time
8. Stay away from the checkout aisle products
Just as you think your money is now safe, you get in line to pay for the merchandise. Some stores have made the entire checkout area a mini-store in itself, with many cheap items that will trigger your impulse buying. If you don’t have any on those items on your list, just ignore them and save your money.
9. Don’t go shopping just to use some rewards
You can get some great rewards when shopping, depending on the coupons, credit/debit cards you use and also the store you shop in. Still some stores will lure you back with future rewards that you can redeem by shopping in the .. future, of course. If you don’t have to do shopping then, just let the rewards go and focus on the ones you get at checkout. Going to purchase stuff you don’t need will not help you save money.
10. Hunt for the better deals, even if you have to shop elsewhere
A pretty nifty trick stores employ is to get more ‘related’ products in your attention. Is it Christmas? You might find a great deal on a product, but a lot of other related seasonal merchandise that’s not discounted (even worse, more expensive than in another store). Just focus on what you NEED to purchase and, if you know a better deal elsewhere, go and shop.
11. $99.99 is actually $100 minus a cent
This is something that’s been driving me nuts in my country, too. Most stores have learned many selling tricks and this is one of them. For many people seeing that an item costs 99 dollars and 99 cents for instance makes the purchase more ‘reasonable’ to us. We’re not buying a item that costs 100 bucks, but one that seems cheaper, even if we’re talking one cent only. Don’t let the price lure you, if you don’t actually need the item. And if you do need it, round the price and you’ll see how much you’ll actually be paying.
12. Don’t be lured by the high price items in the right sections and at eye level
The more we learn about how retailers are strategizing to make us purchase more items, the more amazed we are at how smart these strategies are: retailers know that most people usually take right, when entering a store and that we’re usually too ‘lazy’ to look elsewhere than at eye level. This is why you will need to really look for the best prices and not let yourself be lured to purchase high price items that are placed just where you would usually look.
13. Don’t listen to the music
OK, probably not this drastic, but retailers do use music to make you feel better. Tempo, rhythm even how loud the music plays in the store will affect your mood and shopping routine. This is why having a list and keeping it close is mandatory to save money. Even if you do enjoy listening to the music in the store, just focus on what needs to be purchased and don’t buy more stuff you don’t need.
Related personal finance article: How to Save Money for Christmas from September
14. Don’t fall for the ‘one day sale‘ trick
Many stores will play on your ‘fear of missing out‘ and lure you with ‘one day sales’. If you do need the items, than it’s indeed a great deal, just go and use that opportunity. If you don’t need the items though, the fear if wasting such a great ‘opportunity’ will cost you … your savings.
15. Don’t go shopping hungry or depressed
We know that our mood will influence our shopping routine, so it’s a great idea to stay away from the stores when you are not feeling well or are hungry (the last one especially when you go grocery shopping). For many of us a nice shopping session can be uplifting (say we found a great blouse for our kid or some shoes husband will love), but shopping in itself should not be therapy. So, if you feel like you won’t be able to make rational decisions and stick to a strict plan, maybe it’s a good idea to just relax for a day and see if tomorrow is any better.
16. Look for the smaller carts or shopping baskets
Many retailers have ‘upgraded’ their carts. Some are so big we could fit our entire family in there. As you can guess, this is not a coincidence, it’s yet another trick to get us spending more money. The look of a big empty shopping cart can make at least some shoppers purchase more items. Just as with any other tricks, the ‘antidote’ is to know exactly what you need to purchase and stick to your list.
17. The salesperson is not your friend
I personally dislike it when a salesperson comes to offer help, as soon as I have entered the store. Seeing them come to fast to me made me at first think they see me as a thief or something. Sure, it didn’t take long to understand they are there to help (when I do actually need it), or just to make me feel comfortable and more inclined to spend more. Accept help only when needed and don’t let the salesperson convince you to purchase more merchandise you don’t need.
18. Gift-sets might not be such a great deal after all
As soon as a holiday is approaching, retailers start preparing all kinds of beautiful and elegant gift-sets. And you might even think you get a great deal. Don’t fall for the nice package, see if the set is cheaper is the items are purchased separately and, if it’s not the case, then get them in the set.
19. Don’t open a store credit card just because it looks appealing
Retailers have prepared various store credit cards for you to use (and for them to cash on some big interest). Don’t sign the ‘dotted line’ without a really careful consideration. If you are tempted to open a store credit card, take all the documentation you need at home and read it carefully. Only after you know well all the conditions, you should sign.
20. Resist the ‘add-on’ offers
Credit card deals that seem to be too nice (and you just pay few bucks for them), warranties you don’t need etc. Make sure you don’t fall into these traps. If you came to purchase some merchandise and save money in the process, you should stay away from membership offers, warranties or anything else designed to part you with your money.
What other tricks do you know to save money during the Christmas shopping and still be able to enjoy the holidays?