Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Smart Shopping

What is it about gift buying that makes it so stressful, especially around the holiday season?  We’ve all been there – frantically scanning barren shelves at the local big box store, less than 24 hours left of the shopping season.  Nothing induces panic quite like realizing you still have to find the perfect gift for that special someone – while maintaining your budget and without driving needlessly. 
This year avoid the headache, and plan ahead for your holiday shopping.  We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips to help you conquer your holiday shopping list without a fuss.
Get organized
            Make a list of everyone you need to purchase a gift for – and plan on what to buy before browsing the aisles.  Planning purchases ahead saves time and money.
            Get gift receipts for all purchases.  Avoid frustration later by keeping receipts and their corresponding gifts together.
            Resist spur-of-the-moment purchases that result in over-spending.  Sticking to a plan will maintain your budget, and cut down on time spent shopping.
Compare Prices
            Whether you purchase online or not, retailer’s websites are a great way to compare prices.  Find out which retailers sell the item you’re looking for, and make note of who has the item for less.  Many stores will even match the online price. 
            Sign up for email alerts from retailers, to stay in the loop.  Many stores give exclusive coupons to email subscribers. They’ll also announce special deals and sales happening both online or in-store.   
            Look into specialty stores, flea markets or independent sellers.  Smaller retailers will sometimes haggle on prices with you, and many will match coupons or deals at other stores. 
Be Smart!
            Double check return and exchange policies.  In the event that a gift receipt is lost, stores with accommodating return policies are much appreciated. 
            Don’t wait for Black Friday to make your purchases.  Most retailers offer comparable sales during the year – so unless you need a “big ticket” item likely to be heavily marked down, take advantage of sales as they happen throughout the year.
Why wait?  Make a list, and go bargain hunting; you’ll beat the holiday rush!  

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