marks the official start of the online holiday shopping season, and for people who are looking to save big, it may be the best day to find the hottest deals around. Here are five of my top tips to help you stay within your holiday budget and find the best online discounts today and throughout the holiday season:
1. Use a coupon.
Coupons are the new normal. A few seconds of searching can mean big savings! To find a coupon, do a quick Google search for the name of the merchant and the word "coupon." Or, head directly to my favorite coupon code website, Retailmenot.com
, the largest online coupon website with more than 485,000 coupons for more than 65,000 stores! Retailmenot.com allows users to vote and comment on whether or not a coupon worked; those that do are pushed to the top, ensuring that the best coupons are always just a click away.
2. Stack coupons when possible.
Stacking coupons means using more than one coupon towards a single purchase. Certain merchants allow customers to stack coupons to get additional discounts, free shipping, or even a free gift. For example, VictoriasSecret.com
lets you enter up to 3 coupon codes at a time; Kohls.com
lets you enter up to two at a time.
3. Go social.
Fan your favorite stores on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for the latest deals and updates. You can also follow your favorite savings bloggers (I'm @budgetbabe
). I follow @Retailmenot, @ChicAlert and many more!
4. Compare prices before you check-out.
Especially for big ticket items, do a quick price comparison with a site such as pricegrabber.com, extrabux.com or shopstyle.com (for fashion). Or use your smartphone: Try Amazon Mobile for the iPhone, Frugalytics for the BlackBerry, and ShopSavvy for Android.
5. Don't wait until the last minute.
If there's a sale, you've got free shipping, and you're using a coupon code, I'd say you can shop with confidence knowing that you're getting a great gift at a great price. Besides, hot ticket items (meaning the ones you want) will sell out and you run the risk of not getting items shipped in time for the holidays if you wait too long. While we'll continue to see great deals leading up to the holidays (free shipping day is Dec. 17th), I find I end up scrambling and spending more when I wait until the last minute, so don't procrastinate.
What are your tips for sticking to a budget this holiday season? Share them in the comments! And if you don't get all your shopping done on Cyber Monday, don't worry, check back here for more deals and cheap-chic gift ideas every day.
Photo caption: Dianna Baros, editor of thebudgetbabe.com, shares her money-saving shopping tips with TV and radio audiences nationwide as part of a Cyber Monday media tour on November 29, 2010.