With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, some of the biggest deals of the holiday season are likely gone. To be sure, retailers are still doing plenty of price-cutting, and last-minute shoppers might be able to snatch some eye-popping discounts in stores on Dec. 23 and 24.
But deals aren’t the only way to make your dollar go further as you work your way through your holiday checklist.
Here are some ideas for savvy shoppers:
Buy discounted gift cards
Gift cards have a bad rap, as Christmas offerings go. To many, they’re the epitome of the low-effort, thoughtless gift. But while an unwrapped piece of plastic might not look good under the tree, nearly half of Canadians would love to get free credit at a favourite retailer this holiday season, consumer surveys show. Indeed, gift cards were one of the best-selling items on eBay Canada this year.
But did you know you can buy gift cards for less than their face value?
“Sometimes retailers will have an excess of gift cards that they can offer to the general public at a discount,” said Lisa Orpen, vice-president of national and multi-market sales at Metroland Media, which owns digital coupon site Save.ca.
Searching online is the best way to find out about those gift card deals, said Orpen.
But the web is also a thriving marketplace for the private buying, selling and bartering of gift cards. Canadians often turn to sites like eBay or RedFlagDeals to make a buck on their unwanted gift cards.
Buyers, though, should tread with caution, as the online scams abound. Be wary of gift cards selling for more than their face value and gift cards bought with stolen credit cards, in particular.
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Use credit card and loyalty rewards to buy gifts and book your holiday travel
There are other pieces of plastic in your wallet that can save you a bundle on your holiday shopping. Many reward credit cards will have a catalog of items members can choose from to buy gifts on points.
And make sure to make the most of your travel credit card when booking your holiday travel, too.
Loyalty points can also shave a considerable amount of your holiday spending tally. Many loyalty programs allow members to redeem points for a higher value during the holiday period, noted Orpen.
“You have to really pay attention to redemption times and when they bonus up on those redemptions,” she said.
Use coupons for your holiday entertainment expenses
There’s more to your holiday expenses than your gift list. Canadians are expected to drop over $200 on entertainment this Christmas, roughly 14 per cent of the average individual holiday budget, according to consultancy PwC.
Sure enough, the cost of hosting parties and contributing to family dinners adds up quickly. It’s important to watch your budget when you shop for Christmas cake, too.
Save.ca has a handy app that can help you do so. The app will automatically locate applicable coupons as you work your way through your grocery list.
Earn points for yourself while you shop for others
Trying to get the best price for everything is only part of the game. The extra spending most of us do during the holidays is also an opportunity to make every dollar spent count.
One way to do so is by maximizing credit and rewards for your yourself while your shop for others. The old-fashioned way of doing so is religiously using your reward credit cards and loyalty cards for every eligible purchase.
If you’re struggling to keep your all your points straight, though, you might want to consider Stocard, a digital wallet that stores all your loyalty cards on your phone and makes sure you take advantage of them whenever you get the chance.
And if you’d like to do away with loyalty memberships entirely, try Drop, a mobile app that lets you earn rewards simply by registering your debit and credit cards and shopping at select retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks, Apple and Lululemon.
Invest your holiday shopping spare change
Now, how about using your holiday shopping to boost your savings? You could do that with another app called Mylo, which rounds up your everyday transactions and invests your spare change in a diversified portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds. Say, for example, that you just bought Christmas lights for $24.74. With Mylo, you pay $25 and the app invests 26 cents.
With three purchases per day, the average user saves up around $500 a year, founder Philip Barrar told Global News. The app charges a $1 a month fee and withdrawals are free.
It might be a way to turn your spending spree into a saving spree.