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How to save and earn money while shopping this holiday season

Updated on November 6, 2014

While the holidays can be a great time for enjoying moments with our family and friends, it is also the time for gift-giving and new debts. A National Retail Federation survey found that average person will spend $804.42 this holiday season.

Last year, 57 percent of parents surveyed by Harris Interactive for Lexington Law reported they were willing to take on debt to buy holiday gifts. Some were even willing to go $700 or more into debt to purchase gifts. But, did you know you could give gifts without going into (or deeper, at least) debt?


Make a list, check it twice

Just like Santa, make a list of everyone you want to give a gift to. Next to each name, write a dollar amount of how much you want to spend on each person. Then, add it up for a grand total.

Do you have that money available right now? Will putting aside a few dollars each week or overtime pay or other funds earned between now and the end of the year total that amount? If not, make cuts.

Maybe you and your friends or siblings and cousins could do a Secret Santa or a Pollyanna gift exchange. Maybe there are some people on your list who would appreciate a homemade gift, even one as simple as cookies. Maybe you could even find a way to shave $10 off each person's total.

Once you have revised your totals, this is your budget. Stick to it. To make it easier, carry the cash on you when you shop so you have a tangible budget.

As you purchase something, write it and the price down on your list so you can see where you stand. This step will prevent you from purchasing too much for one person.

Check your reward cards

Some credit cards offer rewards in form of gift cards. If you have one of these cards, see if you have enough points for a reward before you shop. The gifts cards you earn could not only help you purchase gifts, but they could also become the gifts you give! In fact, according to the NRF survey, 62 percent of respondents said they would prefer a gift card this year.

Look for cards for big box stores you shop at for you to save on purchases. For those you wish to give a gift card to, look for one of their favorite stores. Restaurant gift cards are great gifts for those you struggle to find gifts for.

Use your store credit cards

Yes, I did just say in the first tip to pay in cash. But, sometimes, using the store credit card can help you save money. For example, Target instantly gives cardholders 5 percent back on all purchases. Others, like Gap, give you reward dollars for purchases.

Go ahead, save and earn that money, but either use your cash to pay off the purchase in the store immediately or put that cash aside to add on to your next regular monthly payment. Just don't use the credit card as an excuse to spend more.

Shop online through a reward site

According to the NRF, 56 percent of shoppers plan to shop online, and the average shopper will do 44 percent of her shopping online. So, why not earn money from those purchases?

By joining sites like, online shoppers earn points on their purchases at many retailers. The points can be cashed in for gift cards or even cash to your PayPal account.

( also has printable coupons available, some even for items you may need to purchase for gifts. Plus, you earn even more points on coupons used.)

Use an app

There are a few apps, like Shopkick, which reward members just for walking into a store. Just like other reward programs, the reward points can be cashed in for gift cards.

Then, there's the Savings Catcher feature on the Wal-Mart app. If you make any purchases at Wal-Mart, scan the receipt in the Savings Catcher, and the app checks prices at all kinds of stores- some you may not have even thought to shop in- for lower prices. If the app finds a lower price, Wal-Mart gives you the money back in the form of a Wal-Mart gift card. It is worth it.


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    • Samantha Sinclair profile image

      Samantha Sinclair 3 years ago from North Carolina


    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 3 years ago from Hawai'i

      Great ideas! Voted up, interesting, useful and pinned. Aloha, Stephanie

    • nanospeck profile image

      Akhil Anil 3 years ago

      Good article about save money in shopping