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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Christmas holiday shop windows.

It seems that as soon as Halloween is over, the holiday season is upon us with the pressure to buy buy buy. I actually have a pretty good system that keeps me relatively stress-free about Christmas shopping with some money-saving tips thrown in. There is enough going on over the holidays that shopping should be fun with the excitement of making people smile when they open your present!

  1. Make a list: The fun part about Christmas shopping is figuring out the perfect gift for everyone on your list. I start thinking about this in November and anytime I good idea comes to mind, I jot it down. I use an Excel spreadsheet and save it on OneDrive so I can access it anywhere from my phone.
  2. Make a budget: This goes hand in hand with #1. Assign a budget for “gifts”. You can further allocate it out by person on your list. This helps you keep things in perspective and under control, as long as you stick to it.
  3. Start buying early #1: The sooner you start, the sooner it’s paid off (if using a credit card) or if using cash/debit, the expenses can be spread out over a longer period of time, which makes it easier on the monthly budget. Really, you can accumulate Christmas gifts all year instead of doing it all in 1-2 weeks in the most expensive month of the year in many households.
  4. Start buying early #2: If any of the “hot toys” or “popular gifts” are likely to be on your shopping list, buy it as soon as you can. Otherwise, you risk being disappointed when hot ticket items are sold out or worse – have their prices jacked up because of the high demand.
  5. Use your points: This requires a bit of planning. Keep track of your reward/loyalty points. Many allow you to redeem for gift cards or merchandise. As long as you redeem them to allow enough time for the items/gift cards to be shipped to you by Christmas, you’re good to go. You can either give the gift cards as gifts themselves OR use them to purchase gifts to give. Either way – it’s a huge money-saver.
  6. Online shopping is your friend: You can buy literally anything online these days. Amazon literally is the BEST online retailer out there. They ship fast, they have fantastic prices and offer free shipping for pretty much all orders over a small amount and/or other deals. If you leverage #5 to redeem loyalty points for Amazon gift cards, it’s a win win. Other retailers have clued into the “free shipping” as well. Why would I spend hours/days running all over town and in crazy-packed malls when I can shop online (with my Christmas music playing and cookies/coffee by my side) and be done in a fraction of the time? I dared venture into a mall last year ad in several stores when asked if they had so-and-so item, they told me to go online! It’s a sign of the times; retailers can’t afford to keep huge inventory on the floor – but you have access to everything they sell on their online store. I’ve seen the occasional size sell out online but never as bad as in a store.
  7. Earn points on every purchase: I literally buy everything with a credit card to earn points/rewards. I feel like I’m leaving money on the table if I pay cash because I don’t earn points. Granted, this requires discipline to pay off your balance every month so you don’t pay interest (and lose the money you were so clever to have earned in the first place). Also use reward cards like Optimum, PC Points, Scene, all of them.
  8. Use an online rewards site: Sites like Swagbucks or Ebates offer “cash back” when you shop through their portal and can redeem those earned rewards for gift cards (to use in #5). It’s easy to sign up and they have special promos during high peak shopping times too!
  9. Buy during sales: Don’t wait for a specific time of year to do your holiday shopping. There are good sales going on all year. After Christmas is one of those times – so why not get a head start on next year’s list when prices will be at their lowest?
  10. Get your craft on: You can always make homemade gifts. This is always an option and typically costs less, as long as you have the time (and skill and patience) to dedicate to making something.

If you use #5, #6, #7 and #8 together, it’s a perfect formula. For example, I accumulate points all year by using #7. In October/November, I redeem those points for Amazon gift cards (#5) – or sometimes other retailers if I want to give a particular gift card. Then, for my holiday shopping, I go to Swagbucks.com (#8), then “hop” to the Amazon site (#6) to earn Swagbucks for any purchase I make, pay with a credit card that earns points (#7), so you will earn even more points to exchange for gift cards/merchandise (#5). Easy peasy.

I’ve done the same when shopping on the Hudson Bay site (go to Swagbucks, hop to the Bay site and pay with a credit card that earns rewards). So I earn Swagbucks on the purchase, reward points on my credit card and Hudson Bay reward points because I’m a member (which is free to join). 🙂 Win, win, win! Honestly, I can’t imagine shopping any other way.

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Today, I redeemed 50,000 points for $100 off my purchases. It was a great day!

  • Value of products: $153.53
  • Paid out of pocket: $24.75
  • Savings of:  84% of $128.78

I picked up some Knorr Sidekicks which were on sale for $0.99 each (it’s what I like to eat when Chris is away). I also stocked up on some staples that I needed but always like to get free like shampoo, hair color and concealer. I also picked up a few Easter items, you know, while I was there. Ok, Ok, the chocolate bunnies called out to me…I’m weak that way. 🙂

Very satisfying shopping day!

I love Shoppers Drug Mart.

 

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It was a good week this week with 20x the points earned at Shoppers and a $40 off with PC Plus points. 🙂

Fortinos:

  • Value of products: $116.21
  • Paid out of pocket: $61.29
  • Savings of: $54.92 or 47%

Shoppers Drug Mart:

  • Value of products: $93.47
  • Paid out of pocket: $66.21
  • Savings of: $27.26 or 29%
  • Points earned: 13,600

A good deal this week was a BOGO coupon for Axe products (we got shower gel) plus an extra $1 off from Checkout 51. They were on sale for $5.99 but the cashier redeemed my BOGO coupon for $6.99 (only noticed when I got home).

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Not a huge savings week this week, but I was able to rack up 25,800 in PC Plus points which is awesome. We took advantage of the “spend $30 in the natural food section and get 6,000 points” promo (we buy organic yogurt and juice all the time). I also had a coupon from PC to get 5,000 points if your bill is over $200 so that was good too.

BOGO El Paso salsa (w/ coupon)

$2 off Jamieson vitamins

$1 off milk

  • Value of products: $308.43
  • Paid out of pocket: $263.56
  • Savings: 44.87 or 15%

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  • Value of products: $156.92
  • Paid out of pocket: $114.87
  • Total savings: $42.05 or 27%

I redeemed 20,000 PC Plus points for $20 off and only used 3 coupons:

FREE: Kashi Blueberry & Oat Clusters cereal ($4.29 value)

FREE: Nutrigrain Soft Bakes ($1.99 value)

$1 off Nice ‘n Easy hair color

The rest was mainly produce, yogurt and juice.

This year I’m determined to save even more money than last year. 🙂

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I was super excited for the Shoppers Drug Mart super redemption this weekend and I stocked up on lots of Christmas stuff (stocking stuffers, chocolate, etc.) and picked up lots of stuff on sale.

  • Value of products: $338.18
  • Paid out of pocket: $139.99
  • Total savings: $198.19 or 59%
  • Points redeemed: 95,000

Our Fortinos trip was also pretty good – earned lots of PC Plus points. 🙂

  • Value of products: $180.05
  • Paid out of pocket: $146.60
  • Total savings: $33.45 or 19%
  • Points earned: 12,250

Looking forward to seeing how we compare to last year’s total at year end. So far, I’m about $2800 ahead of last year at this time. We’ll see!

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Had a good week. 20x the points at SDM and no-tax day at RCSS, plus lots of sales! I didn’t use any coupons this week but did get $1 off on Checkout 51 (and received my $21 check!) 🙂

RCSS:

  • Value of products: $255.71
  • Paid out of pocket: $185.78
  • Savings of: $69.93 or 27%
  • Redeemed 30,000 points for $30 off

SDM:

  • Value of products: $95.87
  • Paid out of pocket: $59.70
  • Savings of: $36.17 or 38%
  • Points earned: 16,200

With those points, I’m now over the 95,000 point mark and poised for the mega redemption event (if they have it again this year) for $200+ off when the time comes. 🙂

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