Christmas is tomorrow, and I’m pretty much done with all of the shopping. And Hanukkah was so early this year that it’s already a distant memory. So it’s really no surprise that I’ve turned my thoughts to December 2008, and how I will save even more money.
My primary strategy remains the same: buy bargains throughout the year. But this strategy really works best for kids’ birthday gifts and for non-immediate family members (they give us a list each year, so I can’t really buy months in advance). I’ll use the following strategies year-round, refining my technique as I go, and no doubt by next November, I’ll be saving hundreds, if not thousands:
1. Find lots of deals. Admittedly, this takes time. I subscribe to several boards at SlickDeals. The Bargainist posts about sales at many online stores. And sites like Baby Cheapskate and Bargain Hunting Moms post great deals on baby and child-related products. Subscribing to all of these sites results in several hundred posts a day in my Google Reader – but, using the “j” key, I can scroll through them in less than five minutes, pausing only when a deal catches my eye.
2. Shop through portals. After years of hearing about them, I finally signed up for Ebates, a site that gives you cash back when you shop at a number of stores through their portal. I also joined MyPoints.com, after reading about it on The Frugal Duchess and Mighty Bargain Hunter. With MyPoints, you earn (of course) points, either by making purchases or clicking through links in emails (I highly recommend MBH’s post for details). I’ve been a member for about four months now and have enough points to redeem for a gift card, all without making a single purchase. Additionally, AAA and my frequent flyer miles program have their own shopping portals. The difficult thing about portals is remembering to use them! I’m getting in the habit, though, and I’m sure it’ll come naturally by this time next year.
3. Use PriceProtectr and PriceDrop to let me know when I can get some money back via a price adjustment. With PriceProtectr, you simply enter the url of the item you purchased. With PriceDrop, you’ll have the option of tracking the price of an item on Amazon (if it’s sold directly by Amazon). I’ve already mentioned how PriceDrop saved me $2.49 earlier this month. I’m now making it a habit to track everything I buy online.