I know this isn't the typical Super Saturday saving post...but I am trying to post them as we do things. And, since we spent the weekend at birthday parties and that is pretty much all we did this weekend, I thought this was a GREAT time to bring up the art of saving money on gifts and presents!
First of all, I have steadfast rule that I buy at 75% off or better! Now, there are always exceptions during the year, but not often. And, usually those exceptions are dealt with by keeping my receipts and having the price adjusted/rebuy-returned at a later date to get me to that 75% mark.
I just find it crazy to pay full price for things I KNOW I can get cheaper if I would just hit the store at the right time. Why should I pay more than another consumer?
To get started....before you even hit the stores, you need to sit down with a pen/paper or get on your computer and open a spreadsheet. You need to make a list of EVERYONE you need to buy gifts for during the year. So, my list includes my kids, of course, my spouse, our parents, our brothers/sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins...anyone we exchange gifts with. Then, I add my friends, my husbands friends and all my children's friends ( as they go to a lot of birthday parties during the year ).
Once I have the list of people, I break it out by categories. I have a Christmas category, a Birthday category, a Wedding Category, and a Baby Category. I also add a few extra misc. items to each category. You never know when you will need an extra gift during the year. Then, go thru the list and put the names under the appropriate categories.
Next, I put a dollar amount of what I would like to spend full price on a gift for someone. For example, for my kids birthday parties, I feel they should give a gift between $25 and $30. For nieces/nephews, it is more like $50 per gift. So, I am looking for gifts that are valued at this amount. For the Holidays, I want to spend $200 per each of our children, so I look for gifts that will add up to this. Finally, I print the list and it is in my purse at all times. Now, I am ready to go shopping!
Now, how do I get decent presents consistently at 75% off or better? The art is going to the same store over and over and over again! I tell you this, because I know you may find deals right after Christmas ( this is actually one of the best times to go ), but this isn't the only time. If you don't get all stocked up during January, it is still important to keep your stockpile of gifts up, and you can do this my consistently shopping the same store.
You need to find a store you really, really like and know the items get marked down. My favorite is Target. I have been shopping it for years. But, my mother has other stores she likes, too. Read my post on the great deal at JcPenney she found at the beginning of the year. I have also found great deals at Kohl's, Meijer, Walmart, Sears, etc, etc. But, the majority of my merchandise comes from Target. Anything I find at these other stores is simply luck.
Once you find your favorite store, begin shopping it weekly. I have Target on my schedule to hit a certain day each week ( you can ask an employee which day they do mark downs...and you may even get more good deals ). Unfortunatley for me, I just have to go the day I can fit it in with my kids school schedules...so I take what I can get.
The other benefit when you shop the same store each week, you know the aisles, and where the clearance merchandise is located. I can be in and out of Target ( sometimes with a cart full of bargains, and sometimes with nothing ) in about 30 minutes or less. It doesn't take much time at all. I go up and down the aisles looking ONLY for those little red signs...bend quickly to see what percentage off and either stop or go. If they are 75% off, I start looking thru each product to see what will match up with my list of people and what they need. This is how I got the TMX Elmo's for $7 ( when they retail for $30 or more ).
And, if you have coupons or discounted gift cards...don't foget to use those. You may find even better deals!
Once I have my merchandise, I check out, go home and log it into a spreadsheet. This is VERY important, so that you don't forget what you have and who it was for. It is also important, because as I store the goodies, I want to know what I need to go pull out of the basement when it is time. Also, if you will be storing something that has batteries in it for a long period of time, I highly recommend opening the box carefully and removing them, if possible.
Finally, we wait for the parties and Holidays to arrive and give our special gifts to loved ones.
If you want to know how beneficial this was to me last year...here are some numbers for you. I spent $384 for all of our 2007 gifts and they were valued at $1,427. This included 75 gifts! 75 for $384.
Want an actual example?
For Christmas, we gave our eldest son a BIG motorized monster truck for outdoors ( reg $49.99... I paid $12 ), the game Operation ( reg $15....I paid $5 ), Don't Break the Ice game ( reg $7.50..I paid $2 ), a Pinball Machine, which is VERY nice...stands as tall as he does and is SOO fun to play ( reg $49.99...I paid $12 ), a HUGE set of Magnetix...his favorite ( reg $49.99....I paid $12 ), and a Hot Wheels Truck ( reg $13...I paid $3). The total value of his gifts was $185, yet I only paid $50 for my son's Christmas gifts.
For my Daughter, we got her one of the Little Tikes Playhouses. It retailed for just under $200 at the time. I kept watching it at Toys R Us, as it went on sale down to $100 ( 50% off ). Toys R Us sent a 20% off coupon at one point during the year, and I bought my discounted 20% off gift cards. I went and bought this playhouse for just over $60!! OK..it wasn't the complete 75% off rule I normally go by, but we really wanted this for my daughter for Christmas and it was ALMOST 75% off.
So, we spent $60 on her for the Holidays ( she did get a couple filler items, so she had things to open...but they didn't add up to much finacially ). To put this in perspective, I had seen used Little Tike playhouses selling for just a little less than this at garage sales in our area. And, they were faded and used! Check out the picture at the start of this post to see what we got for our money!
So, in closing...make your list TODAY! Stick it in your purse or wallet! Decide on your favorite store! Schedule what day you can spend 30 minutes in and the day! Begin stopping in weekly! SAVE TONS!