23 Tips For Scoring REAL Deals and Saving Money this Holiday

I may only be in my late 20s, but ever since I discovered the mall at age 11, I’ve been clipping coupons and taking names. My obsession with bargain hunting has saved me thousands over the past decade. Ask any of my friends, and they would tell you that they aren’t surprised that my holiday shopping is already 90% complete. I start early to stay on budget. But I also have many other money saving tricks and tips to keep that mullah in your wallet rather than under the tree.

23 Tips For Scoring REAL Deals and Saving Money this Holiday

23 Tips for scoring REAL deals and saving money this holiday

1. Coupon overage. I’ve never been ashamed of clipping coupons. Most retailers that accept coupons don’t give money back for coupon overage, but some let you to use it towards another item in your transaction (Walmart is one of them). If you score a moneymaker deal with coupons, add an item or two on your holiday shopping list to knock the price down.

2. Cash in your rewards. Any time a store asks me to sign up for their rewards program, I always jump on it. Now is the time to use those rewards! Cash in your Pampers Gifts to Grow points, Rewards”R”Us, Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards, and DSW Rewards. And don’t forget your airline miles. Many airlines have a rewards catalog where you can use your miles towards items.

3. Enter giveaways. Believe or not, people do win these! Many bloggers, myself included, host giveaways throughout the year, ramping up the number of giveaways during the holidays. There are even lists of low-entry giveaways (found here, here and here). Someone has to win; why can’t it be you?

4. Free gift cards with purchase. CVS offers Extra Care Bucks with certain purchases each week, Kohl’s runs Kohl’s Cash several times a year for $10 with every $50 spent (I think it goes up to $15 during their Black Friday sale), Target has special gift card incentives in their health and beauty departments throughout the year, and Oshkosh and Carter’s offer a $10 reward for every $50 spent. Use the gift cards or store credits/rewards towards your holiday shopping.

5. Stalk the deal sites. There are three deal sites that I visit religiously – Brad’s Deals, Slickdeals, and The Krazy Coupon Lady. I’ve saved hundreds checking these sites before making a purchase.

6. Price match. Target does it. Walmart does it. Toys”R”Us does it. Save gas and time by doing a one-stop shop at one of these stores. Just be sure to read all the fine print before price matching (some only match in-store pricing and most will price match OR accept a store coupon).

7. Use the free money. A handful of retailers send out coupons around this time of year for $10 off a $10 purchase (DSW and JCP are two of them) in an effort to get people in stores. Don’t feel guilty for spending the minimum and cashing in! USE THE FREE MONEY! By doing so this holiday season, I’ve already crossed two people off my list and spent $3 out of pocket.

8. Craft/DIY. Nothing is more meaningful than handmade gifts, especially from little ones. Grab some craft paper, crayons and a frame from the dollar store for a personalized gift on the cheap.

9. Free shipping. I rarely, I mean rarely, buy anything online that requires an extra fee for shipping. If a website requires a minimum purchase to score free shipping AND accepts returns in store, I always buy the minimum and then return what I don’t need to my local store to save on shipping. You can also search RetailMeNot for free shipping coupon codes. Amazon also offers free Prime trials for free two day shipping (just be sure to cancel before the trail is over and make sure you haven’t done a free trial in the past 12 months or you will automatically get charged). There is also a day in December, the 18th this year, called Free Shipping Day when over 500 online retailers offer free shipping.

10. After-Halloween clearance. Have a little one who loves dress up? Skip the expensive “dress up” items in the toy section and capitalize on Halloween clearance. Last year, I snagged legit Cinderella and Ariel “costumes” for about $8 a pop. Right now, Target has Halloween clearance marked down 90% in stores!

11. Closeout stores. Five Below is my favorite for stocking stuffers, Marc’s (a Northeast Ohio local chain) is great for toy closeouts, as is Ollie’s and Gabe’s (formerly known as Gabriel Brothers).

12. Clearance (in stores). Walmart has a $1 bin in their closeout aisle (look on the bottom shelves) as well as shopping carts filled with clearance items throughout the store (sporadically throughout the year). But my FAVORITE clearance is found at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. Look for the yellow clearance stickers (this is the lowest price an item will be marked). Using this method, I’ve scored wall art for $0.30 and an authentic Fendi scarf for $3.00!

13. Fuel perks. In my area, we have what is called Giant Eagle fuelperks. For every $50 in gift cards you buy, you get $0.10 or $0.20 fuel perks (up to 30 gallons). That’s and extra $3 – $6 in your pocket. I buy gift cards to the places I plan on doing my Christmas shopping and then use them like cash.

14. Credit card bonuses. Many credit cards (already in your wallet) offer extra cash back during the holidays. Log into your credit card account online to opt-in to these promotions.

15. Buy second-hand. I just bought my daughter’s BIG Christmas gift on Craigslist – a train table with tracks and trains for $40 (would have been upwards of $150 new in stores). A little bit of sanitizer and it’s good as new. Kids have such a short window for toys anyway, so buying gently used or second-hand isn’t a bad way to go (they won’t know the difference). I also shop on Facebook groups for new or gently used toys.

16. Camelcamelcamel. This is one of the coolest inventions EVER! Locate the item you want to purchase on Amazon, enter it on camelcamelcamel along with your desired price and email address and you’ll get an email when Amazon drops the price to your desired amount. You can also look at the history of the item’s price to see when the price normally drops.

17. Store coupon apps. Just for walking into Target (with the Shopkick open), you’ll get kicks. As you earn more kicks, you can turn them into gift cards for stores like Target, Starbucks and Old Navy. SnipSnap is fabulous for mobile store coupons and let’s you leave your stack of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons at home. Cartwheel knocks prices down further in store at Target (plus you can stack mobile coupons, manufacturer coupons, AND still take advantage of the free gift card promotions).

18. Ebates. You get cash back just for shopping online through Ebates. Anytime I shop Nordstrom.com, Kohls.com, Sears.com, even Amazon, I ALWAYS visit Ebates first, search the store and then click through my Ebates account. Plus, this time of year, Ebates offers double cash back promotions. This year, by using Ebates, I’ve earned over $100 in cash back (it comes in the mail via check).

19. Cash in the freebies you forgot about. A year ago or so, I had a less than pleasant experience with treat, so they added 3 free cards to my account. This is the perfect time for me to cash in on those cards. This is also a great time to use the gift cards in your wallet with small balances to free up some space and save some dough. Don’t have any freebies? Shutterfly frequently offers free items (just pay shipping), which are usually announced via email. Snag 50 free 4×6 prints just for signing up.

20. Take the surveys. Shop at Stride Rite? Every time I make a purchase there, a survey prints at the bottom of the receipt for $5 off my next purchase in store (no minimum and can be stacked with other coupons). I always take the survey for this coupon. It’s a pair of socks or hair bows, or knocks my clearance purchase from the Stride Rite outlet store down even further. Like I always say, take the free money!

21. Discount designer goods. I have four go-to websites for designer deals (the designers and offers change daily) – HauteLook, Gilt, and Rue La La. Rebecca Minkoff at upwards of 50% off? Yes, please.

22. Let others do the crafting. Who doesn’t love Etsy? I always find great items at decent prices on Etsy (saves me the time trying to DIY). Jane is also wonderful – you can save up to 80% off handmade items. It’s like Groupon for Etsy.

23.STACK, STACK, STACK. After finding a deal on Brad’s Deals, shop through ebates with the gift card you purchased for fuelperks (or credit card with extra cash back) using a rewards certificate and free shipping coupon code.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you sign up/make a purchase after clicking on select links above, I will get a small commission. This post has not been sponsored by any of the companies mentioned in this post.

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Ashley traded Prada for pacis in 2012 when she became a member of the elite club of motherhood. She is married to her high school sweetheart of nearly 15 years and together they have two toddlers - "Bear" and "Little Man." She spends her days as a marketing professional and nights writing this blog. In her [not so] spare time, she enjoys reading trashy tabloids, large glasses of buttery chardonnay, and shopping clearance racks.
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