Make your kids think you spent Thousands this year (without breaking the bank account)

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It's that time again...

You've noticed the signs. They've been up since Labor Day "Only XX days til Christmas". With a heavy sigh you know that your kids/spouse/significant other may ask for that expensive gift they have been hinting at all year (in the case of kids probably point blank asked for all year) & that with things the way they are, you might not be able to afford everything on their wish list. Your budget is slim this year, but you don't want to disappoint them come Christmas morning. If you are dedicated & savvy, you can make your budget work for you & maybe even be able to throw a few extra gifts under the tree this year. Let me show you how.


Make friends with the Spam

It happens every day. You open your email & there are ads announcing sales from every store you've ever given your email address to. What you don't realize is that your chance to save Christmas (and your bank account) is being sent to you 3 times a day every day, usually starting around mid-October. Sites like bradsdeals.com will gather all the Black Friday ads together for you so you can view them in a single location. What is even better is that these stores have now shown that they really really want your money so in many cases they are offering Pre-Black Friday sales for a week or so prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, giving you Black Friday pricing without all the Black Friday nastiness of standing in an endless line. If you play it right you can make all of this work to your advantage.

Your new Best Friend...Price Match

Most of the large retailers are so desperate for you to spend your money with them this holiday season they will advertise endlessly about how their "prices won't be beaten!" and how they have "the lowest prices around!" usually somewhere near the header of that email ad they just sent you. Use their price match policy to your advantage. All you need at most stores is a copy of the ad with a lower price for the same item and the stores will give you the item for that price (some stores do require you to have already purchased the item at the higher price at their store and then they will give you the difference plus and additional percentage back in either cash or store credit). Call different stores that you plan to shop at to find out if they offer price matching and if so what is the policy behind it (i.e. do you have to show you have already purchased the item, do you have to bring in the physical ad, will a print out from a web site work, etc). Then start looking at the ads for the items you are planning to buy. At the time of this writting I have gotten a $75 video game starter for $37 price matched thanks to Wal-mart running a pre-black friday sale, this weekend I will be getting an iPod Nano for $99.99 thanks to Best Buy deciding to drop the price significantly, but I won't be getting it at Best Buy. I'll also be getting a 24" T.V. for $79.99 thanks to that same Best Buy ad and a 6' pre-lit Artificial Christmas tree for $30 from Target thanks to the store price matching their online sale for Redcard holders(plus I get the 5% off for using my redcard which is a condition of getting the price). Before you jump on this humble author about the redcard, I have the debit version of the redcard. I get all the perks but the money comes directly out of a linked checking account so I never pay interest and I still have to abide by the rule of "if I don't have the money for it now then I don't need it now". Everything else on the wish list costs $50 or less, I can get it online and websites like couponfinder.com and retailmenot.com help me locate coupons & discount codes to get the price even lower.

Beat the stores...not the crowds

So there you have it. With a little forward planning and armed with great deals, you can beat the stores at their own game this holiday season without having to beat the crowds to the store with the lowest prices. Will there be crowds at the store you do wind up at? Of course, it's the retailer's favorite time of the year. You might have to throw some elbows to get to where you want to be but you'll still be getting a better deal with less hassle & headache than all those other shoppers who decided to forgo Thanksgiving this year to get in line for those Doorbuster Deals. Word to the wise, however. Keep an eye on those sale dates. It won't do you any good to go get that video game price matched if the sale expired yesterday.

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