Whether you’re buying the latest noise-making toys for your nieces and nephews (that’s right, the holidays are the perfect time to have a little fun at the expense of your siblings!), a bushel of electronics for your friends, or some new perfume that the ladies are raving about, you are likely to end your holiday shopping spree with PTSSD (Post Traumatic Sticker Shock Disorder). Throughout the world, people are prone to overspending when it comes to the holiday season because if consumerism has taught us anything it’s that a higher price tag equates to bigger love. This can be a terrible sentiment for the person who is short of cash come the season of giving. But capitalism has provided a major loophole for those savvy enough to ferret it out: competition.
That’s right. Competition is the key to getting all the hottest gifts for those on your list (for less) this holiday season. And there are several ways to take advantage of it. The first thing to do is look for sales. You may not have the cash on hand to jump on top of the many 1-day sales that are prevalent before the shopping madness starts up on Black Friday, but most stores offer layaway. What this means is that you can put a small amount down and make payments, effectively securing the lower price you want without having to pay up-front (or go into debt). So many people are used to purchasing with credit (and incurring the additional debt that comes from high interest rates) that the art of buying on layaway has largely become a thing of the past. Revive the fallback of your parent’s generation if you want to stay in the red this season.
You can also find some screaming deals online. A search for coupon codes will yield dozens of sites devoted to finding you discounts on everything from clothing to food to jewelry. And don’t forget to check Amazon as they will always show you how much of a discount they offer over retail. Or simply frequent the websites you want to buy from to check out their ever-changing sale section. You can also sign up to become a member of specific sites so that you can receive deals by email. And of course, you can’t go wrong getting updates from sites like Woot and Yugster (which offer a variety of products), HauteLook (for high-end fashion), and Bits du Jour and MacZot! (featuring Microsoft and Apple software, respectively) that have limited offering sales, usually running for a day or until they sell out. You never know what will be up from one day to the next, but if you wait long enough, you’re bound to find some of the hot items you crave.
And you can always look for alternatives. Some items are simply unlikely to see any price-slashing before the holidays. The Xbox Kinect and the new iPhone, for example, will likely hold steady simply because they will continue to sell like hotcakes despite the steep price point. But you can opt for something similar that costs less. A free market necessitates competition, so there are plenty of products that will offer nearly the same service for less money. Or, if all else fails, simply get gift cards that your loved ones can use towards the purchase of whatever they want. It may feel like a cop out, but in the long run, it will save you the stress of chasing down deals and give them the opportunity to do a little shopping of their own. Plus, there are always mark-downs after the holidays are over.