As the holidays approach, many of us are looking for innovative ways to cut costs and stick to a budget while shopping for gifts.
Time is a valuable commodity this time of year, so online shopping expert Michelle Madhok, founder of shefinds.com and momfinds.com, has gathered some of the most effective tools for saving money and finding deals this holiday season:
- Check out discount sites, such as smartbargains.com and overstock.com, to get deals on a large variety of brand-name items from past seasons, store-closeouts, or electronic wholesalers.
- Use online vouchers from sites such as freeshipping.org to help cut costs with free shipping coupons for more than 1,700 stores.
- Sign up for email newsletters from the stores you like best so you're the first to find out when they're having a sale.
- Follow your favorite retailers on their respective Facebook or Twitter fan pages for early sale alerts and potential additional discounts.
- Take advantage of online resources for saving money. Cash-back websites, such as Bank of America's Add It Up, allow you to earn money on online purchases from a number of retailers.
- Seek out sample-sale websites, which feature great brands at steep discounts (up to 70 percent off); the sales usually last a few hours each.
- Don't be afraid to ask for an after-the-fact markdown. If you purchase an item that goes on sale within the week or month, many retailers will reimburse you the difference.
- Utilize programs that encourage fiscal responsibility, such as Bank of America's Keep the Change program (it rounds up all your debit-card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference into your saving account) so you can save while you spend. This way, you'll add a little extra to your savings account while shopping.