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Professor Protection's Holiday Shopping Savings Tips

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Holiday Shopping Savings Tips

It’s closing in on the Holiday/Christmas again and people handle holiday shopping in different ways. Some people are so gung-ho to get it done that they’re actually finished getting all of the items on their list by August.

Unlike those overachievers, other people wait for Black Friday week to roll around to make a dent in their Christmas shopping. You can get so many great deals where your dollars have more buying power - so that makes sense to a lot of people.

But what’s going on now is that there are tons of store that are actually choosing to open up for Thanksgiving Day to offer consumers the biggest holiday sale. These stores are doing that and jumping ahead of Black Friday.

There are retailers who are doing this both in online stores as well as offline. A lot of people get finished with their holiday feast and then want to go shopping, so stores do end up raking in profit by opening on Thanksgiving.

Followed by that, you have Cyber Monday and that’s a huge shopping day where you can find a lot of bargains for everyone on your list. What some savvy shoppers do is they take advantage of each big sale like that when it comes along so they triple their savings.

There are some savings tips that you can use to make the most of these sales events. Some apply specifically to shopping the sale dates, and some just make good sense, regardless of when you buy.

Make a List of Everything You Need to Buy

One way to save yourself money and to lower holiday stress at the same time is to make a list. Most people already do this, but what they write down are the things that they plan to buy as gifts.

You need to go a step beyond that and put all of the things that make up the holiday on that list. Break the list into categories and label them as gifts, decorations, stocking stuffers, wrapping paper and supplies, food and last minute gifts.

You want to have some inexpensive last minute gifts on hand to wrap up for someone who might show up unexpectedly. These should be gift items that can be unisex - such as gift cards, a nice set of towels, a candle, or a throw blanket.

You want to write down gifts that you would like to get for each person. What can be helpful is to write down what you think you’re going to be able to get them, but then you need to have an alternative to the first choice.

It might even be helpful to have a second alternative to the original gift idea that you have. This way, if something is out of stock, you can simply move on to your next gift idea.

It can also be helpful after you have the person’s name on your list to write down some of their favorite things to do and some of their favorite foods. You might also want to write down their favorite colors, too.

That way, if you find a sweater or shirt for them, you’ll know what their favorite colors are. Always start your Christmas list with the people who mean the most to you.

That way, you’ll be sure to get the gifts for your loved ones taken care of first. People usually end up spending the most money on a partner or spouse followed by gifts for their children after that.

Next on the list, you want to make sure that you write down the names of the coworkers that you plan to buy gift items for. Sometimes, offices have a gift swap or gift exchange program - and this can really help save on the budget if you take part in that rather than trying to buy for everyone you work with.

When it comes to a boss, if you want to get a gift, getting a gift card to their favorite store is always a big hit. Avoid buying a boss anything too personal. Food baskets, wine baskets and cookie baskets are always a good idea if you don’t want to get a gift card.

You can also buy a special Christmas gift ornament to give to a boss or colleague. If you know they have a favorite sports team, those ornaments are really big sellers this year.

If you plan on getting gift cards for a teacher, you might want to avoid teacher related gift items. They always get plenty of these. It can be nice not to get something that’s associated with the job.

For that, you can pick up things like movie gift cards, music gift cards or holiday entertainment baskets. You can also pick up winter gloves, scarves or baking sets that have treats in them.

Don’t leave the pets out of the picture. If you have a pet, you want to be sure and make him part of the holiday sharing. You can get a stocking with your pet’s name and fill it with treats just for him.

You can get monogrammed pet dishes, pet dish pads or pet clothes. You can also get grooming items or leashes. Pet car seats or carriers are also good ideas if you’re thinking of giving any of these items as gifts to pet lovers in your family.

What most people do every year when it comes to décor is they use a lot of items that have sentimental meaning - such as putting up ornaments that have been passed down through the generations.

If you use an artificial tree, check your tree out before you put it up to make sure it’s not missing a lot of needles and that there aren’t any broken branches. Fluff it out and see how it looks.

You can buy new holiday decorations on sale during the big holiday sales events. What some consumers do is they rotate color themes. You can have red one year, silver the next or white and blue etc.

You can find holiday bows, tinsel, Christmas bows or balls, tree skirts and candle holders. If you wrap your door in garland or your staircase, then you might want to go ahead and get new garland.

Although some people do reuse their lights for the trees and outdoors, it’s always a good idea and a safer bet to buy new lights every year. You can find these on sale too.

Some people also buy new stockings every year and you’ll be able to find beautifully decorated ones. There is a tradition in some families to buy stockings with wider openings so that the name of each family member can be placed on the stocking.

Don’t forget to buy treats for the stockings. You can fill it with candy but you can also add small gift items such as gift cards, small journals, holiday pens, miniature dolls or vehicles and more.

Buy new wrapping paper to match your holiday color theme for a lovely, polished Christmas décor. If you have holiday paper left over from the previous year, this can be used to help wrap fragile items that need to be taken down and packed away until after the holidays.

When you’re picking up your wrapping paper, remember to grab a bag of bows or colorful ribbon to make your own. Pick up name tags and plenty of tape to wrap the packages.

Always get more tape than you think you’ll need. If you’re like some families, you have kids who want to try and guess what’s under the tree. To preserve the surprise and protect the gifts, be sure and buy an assortment of gift boxes.

If you’re planning to send out Christmas cards this year, buy them on sale and get them in the mail on the first of December so that people can enjoy them. Even food items and containers go on sale during the holiday sales events.

When you’re making your holiday food list, separate the food by categories of dairy, meat, produce, can/box/jar, frozen and bread. You can fit each food item under those categories.

If you’re planning on buying paper goods, just add a “paper goods” category. Be sure to pick up some extra food storage containers in case you have friends or family who want to take home some of the holiday food from your house.

It can seem overwhelming to get everything at once when you have a master list, but when you do that, you save money - plus, you’ll be able to have a relaxing holiday rather than a stressful one.

Make a Budget for Your Shopping

The time of the year when most people go into debt is at Christmas time. No matter how well you plan, it seems that the holidays always ends up kicking many wallets right where it hurts.

We overspend because we want to shower the people we care about with stuff to show them how much we care. We also overspend because we often feel guilty if someone gets us a gift and we didn’t get them anything. So we buy unplanned gifts.

Or we find out that our children have to exchange a gift and so we rush out to find a toy that’s suitable for that. And because we don’t want seem like the Grinch, we can end up spending more on unplanned purchases than we meant to.

This is why the holiday sales events are so helpful. You can buy the stuff that you want to get and not blow the budget if you’re careful. You can find something for everyone on your list and buy taking advantage of the sales, you can end up getting some miscellaneous gifts to give for those unplanned events.

Know ahead of time that if you blow your budget at the end of the year, you could end up paying for it for months after the holidays are over. That, in turn, takes a bite out of the following year’s Christmas spending plan.

Because people do have big hearts and want to give nice gifts, we usually end up with a list that's far too long. We have more people on it than we have money to spend.

What you have to do when that happens is to take a hard look at the list. If there’s anyone on there that you feel guilty about giving a gift to, you need to remove the name from the list.

The holidays aren’t about making sure that you keep everything fair. If someone gives you a gift and you hadn’t planned to give them one, just simply say thank you and move on.

But if you feel like you just have to reciprocate, then bake holiday cookies. You can make a batch a holiday cookies for next to nothing, place them in a decorative tin lined with holiday tissue paper and it makes a nice gift.

Next, take a look at the items on the list that you wrote down after each individual’s name. Maybe you wrote down that your nephew wants a new Xbox One.

Because you love him, you really would like to make that gift happen. But if you do and it makes you feel the pinch, then it’s not a good idea. As an alternative, you can buy him a game for his current console.

Or you could pick up one of the popular hand held gaming devices. You can save a lot of money simply by being creative with the gifts that you get. If you don’t want to overspend this holiday season, you have to set a spending limit.

Look over your budget and decide what you have to spend. Then look at the list of people you’d like to buy gifts for. Break them down by the amount that you’d like to spend on each person and don’t waver from that amount.

More often than not, the gift giving becomes more about the giver than it does the receiver. We try to keep up with the Jones’s. What nobody tells you is that Jones’s are probably up to their hairline in debt and after the holidays, they’re going to be filled with regret.

When you’re shopping, look for cheaper brands. If you plan on buying a flat screen television, you can often find the same features that cost less in a different brand.

If you want to buy a gaming console, don’t simply buy the console. Search for bundle deals so that you get the console and some games. That way, you won’t be buying games separately.

Look for two for one deals. Sometimes, these sales events will have you pay for an item at one price, but you get the second item half off or for a discounted rate. You can give the same gift item to different people and be able to take care of buying for two people on your list at once.

Now, if you’ve whittled your list down as far as it goes and there’s still not enough for all of the things that you’d like to buy, then you have a choice to make. You either have to not buy for someone or you have to bring in more income temporarily.

One way to do that is by taking on a seasonal job. You can find places looking for help everywhere. You can also sell some of the items that you have in your home or stored in your attic that you never use.

If you have services that you can do, you can hire yourself out to do that for a couple of months before the holidays to make the extra cash. You can even make money online writing for others!

Map Out Special Sales Days and Times

To get where you want to be, you need a plan. To get the most savings, you need a plan. Otherwise, you’re just hoping that you get all of the bargains that you’d like to have.

When it comes to the major holiday sales days, planning makes all the difference in the world to those who get what they want and those who are left disappointed.

What you have to do so that you’re not one of the ones left disappointed is to map out each of the days and the times they start. You also want to make a note of any hourly specials or extra perks.

Start by making a list of the sales day and the stores, both online and off, that are participating in the sale. When you do that, you can also make a note of which items the stores are going to have on sale.

You’ll run into cases where two or more stores will have the same items on sale. What you need to do is to figure out which one offers the greater bargain. Sometimes, it will look like one retailer will have the item cheaper.

But if you figure in the cost of shipping, that can end up making the purchase cost more than the store offering the item for a few dollars more but free shipping. So pay attention to details like that.

Also look for any extras that the retailers are offering if you buy that item from them. Some stores give a free gift card or a bonus item. So be on the lookout for that.

Starting with the categories that you want to shop in, make a list of the ones that you want to get first. You’ll usually find sales in ones like appliances, television sets, game consoles, handheld devices, video games, laptops, desktops, toys and jewelry.

Clothing, shoes and fitness items like heartrate monitors, treadmills and exercise equipment also go on sale. Each retailer will have special deals for customers. If you shop at Amazon, you’ll want to look for things like Gold Box Deals, Deal of the Day and Lightning Deals.

If you get a Deal of the Day, these are special buys that you can only get for that day. Other retailers have similar deals but under different names like doorbuster, etc.

So even if the retailer is participating in a week of sales for Black Friday, you’d only be able to get that particular deal on that one day. If you want to take part in a Lightning Deal, then you should know that these are items that are offered only in limited quantity - so not everyone is going to be able to get one.

You’ll want to pay attention and shop early for these. These deals are sometimes conditional with a coupon code. If you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime, you can also get special deals on sale that people who aren’t members don’t have access to.

The special holiday sales event Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Day with some retailers. For ones that don’t choose to open during the day on Thanksgiving, the event begins officially at midnight though some retailers will open a little earlier.

Black Friday this year is on November 27. Cyber Monday this year begins on Monday, November 30 which is after the weekend following Black Friday so you’ll have a few days of savings.

If you plan correctly, you’ll be able to get everything you want to buy. These holiday shopping events are divided into online sales versus in person sales. Some of the stores offer doorbuster items that are of good value.

But there are some things you have consider to determine if this is a good deal for you or not. Sometimes a doorbuster will require a lot of effort. You’ll have to drive to the store, fight for a parking spot, get through a horde of people and wait in line.

What some consumers discovered last year was that many of these doorbuster items could be purchased online for the same price. Besides saving the same amount of money and shopping from home, you’ll discover that you’ll often be one of the ones to get the item versus taking your chance at the store and maybe not ending up with one of the doorbusters.

There are some risks with the holiday shopping events. Sometimes consumers decide to wait until the last minute to buy what they’re looking for because retailers will often buy too much of a product in the hopes that they’ll have enough of the item to go around.

So savvy shoppers occasionally like to run the risk of waiting in the hopes that the retailer will mark the item down at an even greater discount. This does happen, but it is risky because you might end up not getting what you want.

The best way to shop these special sales days is to make sure that you don’t miss out on buying the items that you really want first. That way, you’ll at least have what you wanted the most.

Divide Your List Between Offline and Online Opportunities

There is a way to have the best of both worlds when these holiday sales roll around. You can make a list and plan to shop offline as well as online. That way, you don’t miss out on any of the great deals.

You’ll want to look at the value of the items that the stores offline are offering. In addition to doorbusters, you’ll often hear about loss leaders. These are items that the store will put out in the hopes that they’re going to draw in a large crowd of shoppers.

These are usually nice items and the stores don’t even break even on these purchases. More often than not, these are big ticket items like computers and big screen televisions.

It doesn’t seem like a smart move on the part of the retailer, but it actually is - because studies have shown that when people go out shopping for holiday sales events, they never leave with just the item that they came for.

They end up buying more things so the store then ends up with a profit. Some stores are going to balk and just absolutely refuse to put some of the better deals online.

For those, you're going to have to go into the store to buy the item that you want. But make sure that getting it offline is truly a great deal. It can be a pain - especially when shopping for bigger items - trying to find a way to get it home if it won’t fit in your vehicle.

Plus, some of the bigger ticket items can be heavy. Check online deals to see if there’s an alternative to what you want to buy. You might be able to get it delivered straight to your door without a hassle and end up saving both time and money.

Most people assume that when it comes to getting ready to buy food items for the holidays, they have to get in their car and actually go to the store. But that’s no longer a necessity thanks to all of the stuff you can get online now.

You can get all of the food items that you need for your holiday entertainment baskets, for your parties and even for your holiday meals delivered right to your door.

If you look through the food categories that Amazon has, you’ll see that they carry everything from gourmet food to regular food to Christmas sweet treats. Plus, you can save money and get free shipping.

If you’re a member of their Prime system, then you can get the items brought out to you fast. There is a problem that you might run into during these holiday sales. Sometimes, the way that they’re structured, you’ll find that the times for the sales actually overlaps each other.

Since you can’t be in two places at once, that means you might run into a situation where you feel you’re going to miss out on deals. There is a solution to that problem.

For the things that you have to physically be in the store to buy, you can still take the time to shop online. When you’re buying at the retailer in person, the odds are good that you’re going to run into some wait times.

That’s when it’s a good idea to pull out your smart phone and shop right there while you’re waiting. By using your smart phone to shop while you’re out, it’s like you are in two places at once.

You’ll end up with double the savings. To get the most savings, group your shopping by sale items coupled with the places you have to go. Always figure in that it’s going to take you more time than you allot.

What some people do when deciding whether or not they’re going to shop offline is they figure the total amount of time it’s going to take them plus the amount they’re expected to save.

So if you can save $100 on an item and you make $20 an hour, then that means that your offline shopping needs to be worth your time. If it takes you three hours and in many cases, that’s figuring low, to get to the store, get the item and wait in line, then you’ve spent $60 of your time.

So you only actually ended up saving $40. If you shop online and it takes you 5 minutes to drop the item into the cart and get it shipped, then you’ve saved more money.

You also have to look at how it affected you stress wise. If you go out shopping for the deals, but it leaves you feeling stressed out and brings down your mood, then you might want to consider if it’s really worth it or not.

There are pros and cons for either way of shopping if you don’t want to combine the two ways of doing it. If you choose to shop offline, then you do get the special bargains that you won’t get if you’re not there.

These are special deals that are not advertised. You have to physically be there in order to even know what these deals are. And some of them are great bargains if you get one in the slotted “while supplies last” deal.

By shopping online, you have instant access to more items on sale than you would find in hours of going from store to store for the bargains. You end up with more categories because online stores aren’t limited by space the way that offline stores are.

You can often end up saving more money because, depending on which state you live in, you don’t end up paying tax - and that can be a huge savings on the more expensive items.

If you live in a state that charges 9% tax on items, that means on a $500 television, you’d pay another $45 in taxes. Many online retailers aren’t required to collect sales tax due to interstate commerce.

Using This Year’s Savings for 2016

It used to be many years ago that people planned out a year ahead of time. They knew the benefit of planning and always keeping ahead of the needs before it became a need.

For some reason, many people have gotten away from that kind of planning. The best thing about all the holiday sales that are right around the corner is that you can plan ahead for next year and it won’t take you any effort at all.

Plus, the amount that you can save can be huge. The smart way to shop is to make sure that you’re looking for bargains on the items that you know you’re going to need.

When shopping ahead becomes a waste is when you buy things that you know you don’t need and will never use. Then that’s just throwing your money away. But big savings waits for people who plan ahead for their needs in 2016.

When you think about it, you buy the exact same items for the holidays every single year. You purchase gifts for the people that you love. You get items for friends.

You shop for coworkers. You run out to buy gifts for your child’s teacher, for your hairdresser, for the mail delivery person and on and on it goes. There are two ways to save big for the holidays and for the following year if you use these sales events the right way.

First, don’t just buy gifts during these sales. Don’t just limit yourself to items that you need for the house or some gadgets that you’ve been wanting to get. Look for deals on what you’d be picking up for the holidays anyway.

These are items that you buy every year without even thinking about it and sometimes, not having these items on hand can become a real time drain. If you’re wrapping presents and run out of wrapping paper or tape, then you have to stop what you’re doing, get in the car and drive to the store.

Before you know it, a couple of hours have passed and when you get home, you still have all that wrapping left to do. So this year, make sure that you stock up ahead of time on wrapping paper and the staples like it so that you don’t fall short.

Pick up the clear tape that you know you’re going to use. Make sure that you buy the bows and ribbon and plenty of name tags. Pick up gift card boxes, too.

That way, if you have to, you can slip a gift card in a pre-decorated box and have a last minute gift all ready to go.

Buy your stockings and goodies for it during the sale (or even after Christmas) and you’ll be sure to save a bundle. Most people already know to take advantage of the sale to buy the staples that they have to have to get all of their Christmas needs taken care of.

But what people forget is that these items go on such a steep discount for these sales events that it makes sense and saves you money to go ahead and buy them for the next holiday season.

Because this is stuff that you’re going to use anyway, it’s not a waste of time of money. You can stock up on Christmas wrapping paper and you’ll often find that you can the more expensive paper on sale cheaper than you can find regular wrapping paper.

Grab your bows and all the stuff that goes along with making your holiday look festive. Pick up the Christmas décor that you’ll need. You can buy things for your tree, Christmas rugs, throw blankets, stocking holders, mantel decorations and more.

Choose some holiday dinnerware to add to the sparkle of Christmas. You can find garland and lights and beautiful Christmas trees on sale during the sales events.

You can get shower curtains decorated in holiday themes - or bed linens. If you shop for Christmas items every year, you can end up decking your entire home out in the holiday spirit.

Watch out for evergreen items to buy as gifts. These are gift items that will keep and still be a good idea to give the following year. You’ll find these in things like sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves.

You can choose belts, cufflinks, bracelets and other assorted jewelry. If you find electronic deals this year shortly after Christmas or before, grab those up to give as gifts for the following year.

Stock up on movies and kids’ games. When you end up buying in advance for the next year like this, you stay ahead financially. This way, you’ll end up having even more money left over in 2016 to be able to spend.

Doing this is a great way to save money, to get the gifts that you want and even to spoil yourself with a few gift items!

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