Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us.
With Christmas Day only weeks away, consumers are starting to hit local stores and online retailers hard — but it’s not all reckless spending.
Some of the smartest shoppers already know how to use mobile apps and websites to stretch their holiday dollars even further and help them stick to established budgets.
There are plenty of options to help you along this Christmas shopping season — here are seven of them.
Amazon is one of the most popular online shopping sites, and with millions of products available, it’s easy to see why.
While the selection is enough to find nearly every gift on your list, the sheer number of results makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for — but this where the free Amazon App comes into play.
With the ability to locate product details, read actual user reviews and even scan gift cards from your smartphone, the app will save you time and money this holiday season. It’s also seen a recent upgrade to feature compatibility with Alexa, so you’ll be able to listen to music or audiobooks while you shop.
Money Help Center is another useful resource for tracking and maintaining your holiday budget (or any budget, really).
These web apps contain savings and budgeting calculators, which can help you to determine overall savings, track spending limits and provide suggestions on exactly how much you need to save to meet your goals.
Money Help Center is especially handy during the holidays. If you use credit cards to cover a portion of your budget, the site can help you calculate and track your monthly bills, too.
Slickdeals makes it easy to find the hottest — or slickest — deals on the Internet.
The site features numerous different sections, including user forums, and the content sees multiple updates per day.
Not only does this site keep you informed of any price changes, coupons or rebates, but the dedicated user base is friendly and helpful when it comes to finding new deals and locating cheaper options.
4. Santa’s Bag
As its name implies, Santa’s Bag was designed with holiday shopping in mind.
Available exclusively on the App Store and for iOS devices, the utility lets you create a detailed shopping list, keep track of what you’ve already purchased and monitor your budget.
If you’re trying to keep tight control over your bank account over the holidays, Santa’s Bag is a must-have for any iOS user.
If you find it difficult to control your holiday shopping and stick within your budget constraints, the Pennies app will help.
The program is simple to use — just create the budgets you need, establish their timeframes and refer back to the app to monitor your spending. Individual listings change colors as you approach your spending limits so that you can view your status at a glance.
The app allows you to create recurring budgets for monthly or yearly spending, but it also lets you create one-time budget events for the holidays.
You can even view historical data, which is excellent for tracking your holiday spending over the course of several years.
Retailmenot initially started as a website but has since grown to include a useful smartphone app.
Boasting more than 500,000 coupons and discounts for more than 50,000 retailers, it’s one of the most significant sites of its kind. It even provides special sections, like Black Friday and Christmas deals, which cater specifically to holiday shoppers.
But Retailmetnot also works with local, brick-and-mortar stores. By entering your geographic location, you can take advantage of online coupons and local deals that aren’t available elsewhere. Cashiers can even scan coupons from your smartphone or tablet, making the process even easier than ever before!
We’ve spent a lot of time on websites and apps that can save you money or help you stick to your budget, but some sites provide cash back as an incentive for using their services.
When utilized during the holidays, sites like Ebates are a great way to make money back on the products you’d be purchasing anyway.
Ebates is free to use and currently boasts partnerships with more than 2,000 stores, including names like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Macy’s and much more.
For access to even more deals and discounts, make sure to follow their social media profiles in addition to their website — you never know where that next big deal will appear.
How To Stay Within Your Budget This Holiday Season
There are many tips and tricks for sticking to your holiday budget.
Using apps that provide discounts, rebates or cash back can go a long way in stretching your budget and making it work, regardless of the size of the price cut.
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