Shopping Tips for a Chic Cheap Holiday

What You Need to Know Before You Go

In preparation for the holiday shopping frenzy, here’s how to shop like a millionaire, without having to be one.

Remember my motto, "You don’t have to be cheap to love a bargain, just smart!" And never sacrifice quality. You just need to know where to go to save the dough.

To start, it doesn't hurt to begin at stores whose philosophy is to never pay full price for anything. From discounters to outlets, off price chains to sample shops, clearance stores to discounters online, warehouses to wholesalers, you can always start at stores that already sell for less. Even full price retailers love to move merchandise to make room for the new. 

Before the season, start reading sale ads before they are released to the public. This is especially important for Black Friday when retailers try to get into the red. These are the Friday after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.  Even full price stores mark down inventory from 50-90 percent. That is my benchmark, for how I don't pay full price any other time of the year. The first work day after Black Friday is a Monday. You can often find deals from Black Friday extended to what is called cyber Mondays.

To get the edge on prices before the public has a chance to know where to go, check websites like blackfridayads.com, theblackfriday.com, savingsvine.com, bfads.net and fatwallet.com who often get notice of the sales before they are revealed to the public.

For items that go on sale after you’ve bought them, you can usually talk to customer service with your receipt in-hand and they will more than likely refund the difference between what you paid and the sale price. Sometimes, too, your credit card company will also do the same. Matching prices during the holidays is much more common when the competition is so stiff.

Stay home (unless you like getting up at the crack of dawn and freezing in line), since many chains allow you to start shopping in your PJs at the store’s website at midnight the night before. Sure beats having to bundle up and wait in line all night! If you intend to do lots of shopping, alert your credit card company so they won’t think your credit card has been stolen. That puts out a red flag to your credit card security watch guards.

If you shop in person, you should always bring proof of the prices. Either a magazine or newspaper ad will help facilitate the negotiation as well as tell a temporary holiday employee of the exact item you’re looking for. Request a rain check if the item you’re looking for sells out. It does pay to ask for it. Check the prices in the store for an item to see if it’s lower online. Sometime, but not always, they'll reduce it to the online price.

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