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My Holiday Challenge: How Much Can You Save While Shopping?

December 01, 2016 at 4:00 AM

You know that I have often stated that one of the keys to financial freedom is to feel as much pleasure from saving, as you get from spending.

That’s not just advice I have for you. It’s how I live my life. Just the other day I was so pleased when I was able to buy something for nearly half of its list price, simply by being a smart online shopper—I love ebates.com!-and using one of my credit cards that gives me 3% cash back.

I hope you take the time this holiday season to think strategically about how you can save as much as possible when doing your holiday shopping. It goes without saying that your spending should never exceed what you can afford to pay off in full when the January credit card statement arrives. But once you’ve got your budget in hand, I hope you will derive as much pleasure as I do from looking for the best deals possible.

Check out Online Shopping Portals. Rather than go directly to a retailer’s website, you can save plenty if you “enter” through a shopping portal. As I mentioned, I happen to be a big fan of Ebates.com. Ebates has deals with more than 2,000 retailers. If you “enter” a retailer’s online site by going through Ebates, you will be eligible to get some cash back. It can be 1% to 5% of your total cost, or a set dollar amount of savings. Just for clicking through from Ebates.com. Another portal to check out is TopCashBack.com. The EVRewards website is also worth checking out, as it pulls together all sorts of coupons and deals available at hundreds of retailers. Or do your own coupon hunting at Retailmenot.com and Fatwallet.com, if you aren’t already using them.

Skip the Store Credit Card. When you are ready to check out a purchase -either in a store or online-you and I both know you will likely be hit with an upsell that you can get another 10% off if you sign up for a store card. Please don’t. What looks like a great way to save 10% can end up costing you plenty. Department store cards often charge interest rates of 20% and some charge close to 30%. Unless you are 101% sure you will never, ever run up an unpaid balance on a department store card, my advice is to just turn down the offer.

Use a Cash-Back Credit Card. Don’t have one? If you have a great FICO score and are a responsible spender, I give you the green light to add a cash-back card to your wallet. Getting 3% to up to 6% cash back is my idea of smart saving when shopping. Check out this rating of the best cash-back deals.

Fatten Your Wallet by Cleaning Your Closets (and Garage). If you’ve got stuff you no longer are using, and you could use some extra cash this holiday season, put it up for sale online. Beyond eBay and Craigslist, consider sites such as online consignment store ThredUp, women’s fashion resale site Poshmark, and Tradesy for unloading designer handbags.

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