While many Americans have already started getting into the holiday spirit, this week marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season with the four-day extravaganza running from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
Last year alone, nearly 190 million Americans waited in line at their favorite stores and fired up their computers to hunt for the best deals on popular gifts for friends and family.
Although this year may look a bit different, with more consumers opting to shop online or do curbside pickup, new research from Step reveals that 43% of teens still plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend - taking advantage of special deals and promotions.
To help teens maximize their budgets (48% of which are under $100), we’ve created a cheat sheet to help ensure you’re getting the best deal possible on each gift and also steering clear of scams.
In the meantime, if you haven’t had a chance to put a budget together yet, checkout our recent blog post which provides a step-by-step guide.
5 tips for maximizing your holiday budget
As you start making your shopping lists and clicking through all the promotional emails from retailers, consider the following before making a purchase:
Sign up for free trials. In addition to special promotions, many retailers offer other discounts and perks when you create an account or sign up for their emails. For instance, Amazon Prime offers a 30-day free trial allowing you to take advantage of complimentary two-day shipping. However, some retailers will ask you for a card number to keep on file and charge you once the trial period ends, so be sure to put a reminder on your calendar to cancel the membership ahead of time.
Check price match guarantees. Price match guarantees are unique because, unlike typical price promotions, they do not advertise a price reduction. Instead, they promise to match or beat a competitor's lower price. These can be especially helpful if you want to cut down on the number of stores you need to visit or want to maximize rewards points by doing the bulk of your shopping at a single store. Retailers such as BestBuy, Nordstrom, Target and Walmart offer these guarantees. Just be sure to look out for signs online and in-store that identify items available for price-matching and notify store employees at checkout.
Be sure to track pricing. While there will undoubtedly be several great deals on Black Friday, sometimes retailers will increase the price of an item shortly before the holiday season so the discount you are given seems more significant. Knowing the right time to purchase a gift can be tricky but apps like CamelCamelCamel and Honey show you how the price of an item has changed over time and will even send you alerts when prices drop to ensure you maximize your budget.
Look for coupons. Before making a purchase, take a few minutes to type the store name into free coupon sites like RetailMeNot or consider browser add-ons like PriceBlink which helps find you the lowest prices when you shop online. Don’t underestimate the power of a few coupons as they can help you save big this holiday season.
Clear your browser history. Another great tip is to clear your browser history frequently. Similar to purchasing airfare, retailers have pretty sophisticated technology when it comes to tracking your shopping and site visit history. While this is often a good thing, when it comes to deal-hunting, you might be missing out on special promotions for first-time shoppers.
Track your spending & split gift costs with Step
We hope this article was helpful and as you embark on your holiday shopping mission, don’t forget to use your Step Card at checkout. With no fees and real-time balance tracking, Step makes it easy to stay on budget and you can even split the cost of gifts with friends and family through the Step App.
Additionally, if you want a chance to win exclusive holiday gifts, follow @stepmobile for updates on our #12DaysofStep campaign.