Beliefnet

The holidays are exciting. The season starts with such enthusiasm that it’s hard to ignore. The decorations go up, the lists are made, the music streams and the well meaning, philanthropic, intentions declared.

Then reality sets in.

Time gets away. Shoppers scramble to fill their list, they overspend, forget to volunteer and swear the next year will be different.

What if planning ahead will not only save money, but holiday spirit by discounting chaos and promoting time well spent? The following will save the holiday shopper money and so much more.

1. The best new website to check out this season is www.jet.com. Jet was just recently launched in July 2015. This New Jersey based, online retailer does not specifically categorize itself as a discount site. However, there are across the board 4 to 5% average savings, free shipping on orders over $35 and a huge variety of products with strong brand appeal. Additionally, Jet’s ‘Jet Anywhere’ Program allows shoppers to earn ‘Jet Credit’ when they shop with any of 600 plus partnering retailers across the web. Retailers such as, Saks, Nike, QVC and 1-800-Flowers.com.

Jet offers groceries, baby products, skincare, books, games, electronics, sports and fitness products and more. The customer service is superior and unlike any online retailer currently out there. It is hugely individualized and comprehensive and will walk a customer patiently through their first jet.com experience.

Keep in mind when shopping on Jet this season that this is a newly launched site which is gaining great popularity so shop early and ahead of time to guarantee products and delivery. In addition, potentially gauge extra time since part of the savings are attributed to products being delivered from different distribution centers.

Finally, Jet is also the perfect place to buy and send huge care packages to college kids, young families, parents, etc. due to the fact that all shipping is included for over $35 purchases. Therefore, gone are the days of buying $100 worth of groceries just to spend an additional $25 to $40 to send it. Love that Jet makes sending love simpler and cheaper.

2. The best way to save the absolute most on groceries while maximizing the volume purchased is to shop at three stores. Initially, this takes a bit of extra effort, but the benefit of shopping at three different grocery stores will be well worth it. First, take a look online or in print at what all three stores are offering as specials/discounts for the week. Then proceed to each different grocery store and buy the special and sale items for each store.

This is especially cost effective when combined with coupons.

The typical shopper goes to one grocery store and the sale items purchased are often offset by the regular priced items. This simple and efficient strategy yields a perpetually overstocked pantry within months of utilizing this system. This is amplified by taking advantage of the buy one get one free or buy one get one half off offers at each grocery store.

3. No one enjoys a vast amount of what is considered e-mail junk mail. However, today there are significant savings being offered online and retailers are doing this through major e-mail campaigns.

The solution? Create an e-mail account strictly for budgetary savings. If ever there was a time this was worthwhile, it is now. Many major retailers such as, Foot Locker, Sports Authority, South Moon Under, Vineyard Vines, Bloomingdales, Barnes & Noble, etc. offer incredibly frequent and substantial savings for online purchases. In addition, many also offer free shipping and free returns.

The incentive to take advantage of these savings and shop online not only saves money, but offers savings with more expensive brands (such as Vineyard Vines) which are hard to come by. It is also common that these retailers (i.e., Silver Diner, PF Chang’s, Bare Minerals) send free Birthday gifts or discounts. So make a dedicated e-mail to receive and take advantage of these offers and sign up for the customer loyalty programs with retailers like this. As soon as they come in either print them and keep a folder in the car or access them via mobile phone.

4. Restaurants push gift cards this time of year and often offer a free gift card to do so. For instance, PF Chang's promotes their $100 worth of gift cards with a $20 bonus card. Instead of thinking of these offers strictly as gifts for others, buy them for personal use and savings. If a family enjoys PF Chang's and purchases $200 in gift cards they will have $240 worth of gift cards and additional savings to use in the new year. That provides a 20% future dining savings.

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