Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lowering the Cost of Holiday Shopping

Reading other personal finance blogs this year is helping me to personally minimize my Christmas spending. I use credit cards for almost all (if not completely all) of my holiday shopping, and I do a lot of that shopping on Amazon. (I'd do even more of it if Borders Gift Cards had more flexible amounts to choose from, but don't get me started). So here are a few things I'm doing this year to help keep my costs down. We're not talking big money here, but every little bit counts.

I didn't find out about the Amazon A9 discount via a personal finance blog (though some have mentioned it) but from a long forgotten techy type blog (maybe many moons ago. For several weeks, I have been sure to have A9 selected in my Firefox "search box" so that all my quickie searches are done there and I therefore currently qualify for the 1.57% (half of pi) discount on Amazon purchases.

Thanks to Jane Dough, I have $5 extra to put in the Amazon giftapalooza pot too (every little bit counts). Sadly I missed out on the previous survey while I was traveling. I took Jane's advice and put it right into my Amazon account so I wouldn't have to dig it up when making my order. Very handy. Thanks again, Jane!

I can't find the original post now (if it was you...let me know!) but someone back in November (I think) remembered to check on credit card award point balances and made good use of them (vague, I know). I wish I had acted on it then, but I did make a mental note to do the same. I realized I could turn 7500 Diners Club points into 3 $25 Amazon gift certificates which I did last week. The rub is that it takes them a while to mail (yes...*mail*) them to you so I may not get these in time to use them for present shopping. (I hate it when I procrastinate). Anyway, I had always associated them with airline and hotel rewards so I'm glad I looked closely.

Over at Personal Finance for the New Age, I was informed of a Discover card promotion that gives 5% cash back for online purchases Nov 25th to Dec 31st. Fortunately my Discover card does qualify for that promotion so all online purchases -- and definitely the Amazon purchase -- will be made with the Discover card this month. (If the merchant doesn't take Discover, I'll still use my Citi Dividend Card for 1% back). So that's like getting a 5% discount on all christmas shopping ;)

I will also try to qualify for the Amazon Prime promotion during my big order, but I'm not counting on that.

Also, I don't think I'm actually buying anything from Ebay this year, but if I do, I'll be checking for Ebay coupon codes first. These expire 12/18:
  • C23-GiftGuide $15 off $100+
  • C22-GiftGuide $5 off $50+
  • C11-GIFTGUIDE 10% off ($25 max discount)
Consolidating as much holiday shopping as possible on the Discover card will also allow me to keep track of the spending and will help me keep it in check. We do have a basic budget this year (our first) but I'm a this could be my achilles heel! (yes, I know leos aren't the only ones who like to be generous at christmas )

So that's basically a list of the little things that will help me...any one else have some more tips?


  1. I too have save money reading other blogs...but sometimes I worry if I spend a bit more, in order to get in on some of these "good deals"..hehe
    love the blog, keep it up..

  2. I'm with NCN, I kind of deliberately ignore all these coupon things because I think I'll start looking for ways to spend them. I had a big discount coupon good for a whole day at Macy's a couple of months ago. So of course I made a point of going to Macy's, where I almost never go. And then I bought clothes that I didn't really need and in fact haven't worn yet. I probably would have spent even more money but the friend I went with wanted to leave after buying her xmas gifts on my discount. I was sort of annoyed and felt like I was missing this great opportunity to save, but it's just as well, as I probably would have spent even more money if I'd had more time to shop!

  3. yeah, I am a firm believer that browsing is the enemy of frugality ;)

    I had to work hard to get better at only using coupons and codes for things I was already buying etc and to definitely avoid the "browsing in *order* to take advantage of a deal". That definitely used to be the bane of my wallet, cuz I loves me a good deal.

  4. I also love to shop and run a coupon site. If any of you want a deal on any item I get exclusive discounts and coupons on many online sites. You can email me and I can send you great deals on any item on the net and also exclusive amazon coupons

  5. My strategy is to put all my purchases on my credit card, which offers cash back. Then I pay off my balance each month, and once a year I get a nice check in the mail from Visa. You've got a great blog - I've added you to my blog links. Thanks!


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