Happy 2018, y’all! As you read the title of today’s post, perhaps you felt a little confused. Wouldn’t this post be better suited closer to the end of the year? Maybe. I am so proud of how I was able to get my loved ones a great gift and didn’t have to break my bank to do so. This holiday season, I shopped smarter, not harder and saved over $200 collectively on gifts. You’ll want to pin this post for the next time you want to buy someone a gift. Some preparation and a lot of shopping was involved. If you have tips on how you save money on gifts, leave them down below in the comments!
Before you even think about reaching for your wallet, you need to have a general idea of who you’ll be shopping for and what you want to get them. Make a list, whether on paper or your phone (for stealth reasons). Write down the name of everyone who you plan on giving to and jot down any initial ideas for their gifts.
If your someone who starts their shopping relatively early in the holiday season (before Thanksgiving), this can seem like a daunting task. How are you supposed to know what the ideal gift is when so many new products and sales have yet to be announced? That’s why, initially, general ideas of types of products or favorite characters are important to make note of on your list.
The next step in preparation is setting yourself up to price check on the go. Download the ‘Amazon’ app on whatever mobile device you will be bringing with you when you shop (click here for iOs link and here for Android). You’ll see why this is an important step in a little bit – just know you need to download it.
The final step in preparation is signing up for a free trial of Amazon prime. Of course if you already have Amazon prime and/or share an Amazon prime membership with someone, you can skip this step. Also something to keep in mind is that the free trial of Amazon prime can range from 30-60 days. When you sign up, make note of how long the duration of your trial is, begin your trial at a time that makes the most sense for you (I began mine on December 1 so I had prime all through December) and make note of the date you need to cancel your trial before it charges you for a full year.
The Shopping Process:
Generally speaking, I shop at a handful of retailers. When shopping for gifts (regardless of occasion), I exclusively and unapologetically shop at two retailers: TJ Maxx and Amazon. Neither retailer has a shortage of nice gifts any time of year and both have incredibly affordable prices.
So you have your list of people you are giving to and gifts ideas for them, take it with you on a stroll around TJ Maxx. Once you find an item that fits the bill for someone on your list, put it in your basket/cart and whip out your mobile device. Open the newly downloaded Amazon app on your phone and search for the same item on Amazon. Where is the item least expensive? Since you already have your free trial of Amazon prime active, you can take shipping costs out of the equation. If the item is less expensive on Amazon, add it to your cart and put it back in the shelf in the store. If the item is less expensive at TJ Maxx, go ahead and leave it in your basket/cart and keep on moving.
Some of my favorite things to get at TJ Maxx: Clothing (got a Calvin Klein sweater for $15.99) and home accessories (candles and pots/pans)
(More on the blog: How to Make Holiday Shopping Affordable)
Gift wrap can be really expensive. I have two favorite places to get all things gift wrap related: Dollar Tree and TJ Maxx. Dollar Tree is my go-to for gift bags, tissue paper and ribbon. TJ Maxx is where I get large gift boxes and wrapping paper. This year, I found some super cute Paw Patrol themed wrapping paper that was a big hit with the little ones in my family (I think the adults got a rise out of it too) for under $4.
The Buying Process:
Alright, you’ve got all of these items in your online Amazon cart and in your physical cart in TJ Maxx. How on Earth are you supposed to pay for them? My secret: not with your own money. No, I’m not talking about stealing or coercing your friend/sibling/parent/significant other to pay for them.
I paid for majority of my holiday gifts in 2017 with gift cards and cash that I earned by taking online surveys.
The best part about it? It’s not hard to do by any stretch of the imagination. I use two survey companies: Ipsos and Opinion Outpost. Both platforms work in the same way. A point value is assigned to each survey. For every survey you complete, you earn the corresponding amount of points. Once you accumulate a base number of points, you can redeem them for gift cards to different retailers or, on Opinion Outpost only, cash.
I have been a member of Ipsos the longest and, therefore, have redeemed the most rewards from them. Some retailers that offer gift cards through Ipsos are: Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks and Target. I have been a member of Opinion Outpost for about two years and have redeemed a fair amount of rewards from them as well. Opinion Outpost is unique from other survey platforms in that you can redeem your earned points for cash via PayPal. Who doesn’t love gift cards or cash?
Whenever holiday season rolls around, I redeem my points for Amazon gift cards and cash. This brings my out of pocket cost for the gifts I’ve selected for my loved ones down dramatically (if not eliminates it completely).
If you would like to know more about how I earn money and gift cards by taking surveys, I wrote a whole post on it that is much more in-depth.
Other Ways to Save:
Split the cost
Is there a larger ticket item that someone you’re shopping for absolutely needs? Ask a friend or two to split the cost with you. Not only does this reduce the cost for everyone, but the receiver gets a gift that they really need. (Bonus points if you use your earned gift cards to further reduce your price of the item.)
Shop the Sales
Is something on your list going on sale at a different retailer? Snag it before they’re all gone and pay yourself back by earning cash with Opinion Outpost.
And that is how I managed to save over $200 this past holiday season on gifts. Like I said, its a doozy of a post, but one you’re going to want to hang onto until the following holiday season. That being said, don’t wait until holiday season to start earning your gift cards. Capitalize on any free time you have now and start taking surveys to build up your points!
How do you save money when shopping for gifts?