Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fun And Easy Ways To Shop For & Save Money On Christmas Gifts

Nov 8, 2010 Amy Wingfield

Save Money - Simon Howden

Save Money - Simon Howden

In these tough financial times, families struggle to put food on the table. Many are facing this crisis by learning how to save money, earn extra income and incentives online, shop online, watch for sales and network together by sharing what they learn along the way. This has created a phenomenon of coupon blogs, facebook pages and internet sites all devoted to teaching others how to save money.

Shop Online and Shop Early

Twenty or thirty years ago, the biggest shopping day of the year was the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday. With the financial crisis of the last few years, that has changed. Many retailers have already began running " Black Friday Sales," in hopes of gaining a profit earlier this year as the economy begins to improve.

However, retailers may find that the past few years of economic hardship have given birth to a new generation of savy shoppers who have learned in times of financial crisis to network together and get the most from their hard earned money. There are websites like who completely devoted to upcoming sales and deals throughout the holiday shopping season, especially those sales occurring the day after Thanksgiving. Several blogs and facebook pages have been established by women who have learned the value of sharing a good thing with others. Facebook groups like Deal Divas notify group members by email of sales, deals and freebies found by members throughout the day.

Many consumers have learned to shop early and shop online first before getting in the car and driving to the store. Retailers are catching on to this trend. Many retailers are offering free shipping or reduced shipping on their websites for their hottest selling items. Online store retailers like Amazon and entice consumers to return to their sites often with , " Daily Deals."

Buy Used And Save The Difference

The economy may be improving, but consumers are still being cautious when it comes to high ticket items. Many consumers will first search websites like Ebay and Craigslist for desired items before checking local stores. In past generations, it was considered impolite or tacky to re-gift or give someone something second hand. That's no longer the case.

Ebay sellers often advertise their goods by using the acronym EUC, ( Excellent Used Condition). The item may be used and no longer in its original packaging, but in many cases, items found on Ebay are " Like New" items and will be well received by satisfied consumers. Beware though, always read all the information about an auction before bidding and make note of shipping cost for each item. Shipping can be expensive and sometimes it is cheaper to buy an item new at a retail store than to by it used on Ebay and pay high shipping charges.

There are other ways to find gently used goods. Some shoppers enjoy bargain shopping through Thrift stores, consignment shops, The Good Will and the Salvation Army. This is a great way to save money on clothes, toys, books, furniture, dishes, linens and small kitchen appliances. Others flock to garage sales. Many cities and communities are learning the value of networking together by hosting semi-annual or annual state highway garage sales. In the south, the bi-annual Hwy 80 Garage sale runs in April and again in October.

The sale spans over 390 miles along historic Hwy 80 from Grand Prairie, Texas to Jackson, Mississippi. bargain hunters from around the country make these sales a big " road trip," adventure. Many communities throughout the nation are picking up on this trend. To find a list of some of the big ones, try searching Google for city wide and highway yard sales.

Getting Things For Free

A pessimist might say that nothing is ever free. However Freecycle participants might disagree. Many consumers have decided not to play the garage sale game or list their used goods on Ebay or Craigslist. Instead, items are given away for free through an online resource known nationwide as Freecycle. Freecycle is so popular now that there is usually a group to be found in almost every major city in America. Group members post the items they have to "Offer," or things, " Wanted." this is a good way to give clothes and furniture and toys to families in need.

Consumers are also finding there are more, "freebies," to be found.A search engine by the name of Swagbucks rewards consumers with swagbucks for using their search tool instead of another search engine like Google or Yahoo. Consumers save up these swagbuck credits and cash them in for free gift cards and other incentives. Swagbucks is especially popular on Fridays, which is known as Mega Swagbucks day. This is the day to earn lots of swagbucks quickly just by searching the web.

Make Shopping a Game

This Christmas, make a Christmas shopping plan. Create a game plan and tackle that Christmas shopping list with enthusiasm. Challenge family members and friends to see who can find the best deals and save the most money on gifts this year. Take notes and share strategies with one another to be used year after year. The nice part about this game is, in the end, everyone is a winner!

Copyright Amy Wingfield. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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