1. Save gas (and time) by shopping online.
Avoid crowded shopping centers altogether by doing the bulk of your shopping online. Just make sure that you keep mailing costs in mind and order your gifts far enough ahead of time so that you don’t have to pay for expensive overnight shipping.
2. Focus on Cyber Monday–not Black Friday.
Sure, you may find some pretty crazy deals on Black Friday, but when you factor in the gas you use to drive to the store, the time you spend waiting in the cold out front before they open, and the time spent fighting the crowds and waiting in line to make your purchase, is it really worth it? This year, try shopping on the Monday immediately after Thanksgiving. This is the day when online retailers promote big sales, so you can save while shopping from the comfort of your own home.
3. Use online coupons.
Avoid the hassle of clipping coupons and shoving them in your wallet until you can get to the right store by using online coupons. Many sites give you an easy way to quickly search for and redeem deals for your gift items.
4. Avoid credit card debt.
This should go without saying, but one of the best ways to shop smart this season is to avoid charging more than you’ll be able to pay off. Don’t get talked into starting a credit card with a particular department store, either. It’s usually not worth it. Keep close track of the money you spend and know where your limits are.
5. Don’t be afraid to buy the same gift twice.
If you find a gift that you know several people on your list would enjoy, don’t be afraid to buy it in multiples. This cuts down on your shopping time, and if the store is offering any kind of “Buy 1, get the second 1 at a discount” deal, that’s even better!
6. Save money by using your smartphone.
Make purchases at the store and you’ll get even more points to put towards a future reward. Never shop on weekends.
Weekends are inevitably the busiest shopping days during the holiday season, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try shopping on weekday evenings.
7. Shop alone.
While shopping alone doesn’t sound as fun as bringing along a friend, it will save you time and potentially prevent you from being influenced to make big spur-of-the-moment purchases.
8. Know when to eschew the express line.
Each person has to do an individual transaction, so a medium regular checkout line is often better than a long express lane line.
The holidays should be a time to relax and hang out with friends and family–don’t let yourself get stressed out by last-minute shopping take a deep breath, do some planning in advance, and shop smart this season.