7 Simple Steps to Save on Your Holiday Shopping

by Julie Hood

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Do you love to shop as much as I do? It's even more fun when I can shop and save money, too. As the holiday season approaches, here are a few of my favorite ways to save time and money when shopping for holiday gifts.

Step #1 - Compare prices on a shopping comparison site.

Find the best price (and save a lot of time surfing) by using price comparison websites. Be sure to check more than one since some sites only list certain stores.

Step #2 - Lose the mall. Surf the online malls instead.

Just like a regular mall, an online mall groups the best stores all in one place. In this case, the stores are all accessible from one website. Online malls are so much more efficient than the regular mall. You save time because there's no waiting for a parking space, no fighting the crowds and no waiting in long lines.

You can save more money using an online mall than a regular mall. Many online malls give you cash back rebates on each of your purchases through their store links. Rebates can be up to 25%.

Step #3 - Make sure your plastic pays you.

Cash back credit cards offer another way to save even more money on your purchase. My credit card gives us 1% back every time we use it. Rewards vary depending upon the store you're buying from and what items you purchase. Other cards provide airline miles or even let you save for college while you are shopping for gifts for friends and family.

Step #4 - Clip those codes.

Don't forget to use online discount codes and coupons to save even more. The best way to get these codes is to sign up for a store's e-mail newsletter. Notice of the site's sales and specials will be sent directly to your e-mail. Another way to find codes is to use your favorite search engine and search for the site name along with the word "coupon," "discount" or "promotion code."

Step #5 - Always get free (or almost free!) shipping.

When shopping online, watch for times when you can get free shipping. You can save anywhere from a few dollars on up. Use the search engine technique above to look for the website name with "free shipping."

If you are shopping for long-distance relatives, save more time by having the store wrap the present and ship it directly for you.

Step #6 - Give an electronic gift certificate.

Not sure what present to get? Let your family and friends decide what they want and where they want to buy it by giving them an online "super" gift certificate from GiftCertificates.com. Save even more when you buy these certificates through an online mall. If you need a last minute gift, you can e-mail the gift certificate to the recipient. GiftTracker.com even has certificates to my local mall, restaurants, spas and more.

Step #7 - Avoid the long lines at discount stores, and visit their websites instead.

Some of the best discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target have an online store to save you time. Instead of standing in lines this holiday season, get your presents delivered to your door when you shop online.

Julie Hood writes about saving money shopping online.

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