From the Magazine

5 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Dollar When Shopping for Presents

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With the average American planning to spend more than $1,000 on gifts this year, we asked the pros for the savviest ways to slash that number and still deliver just as much joy! Keep reading for five expert tips on how to save on a great gift this holiday season. 

Score ‘doorbusters.’

Didn’t want to wrestle with crowds on Black Friday? Head to eBay, suggests Kyle James, who runs Rather-Be-Shopping.com, a savings website updated daily with the best coupon codes, printable coupons and online and in-store bargains. “About a week after Thanksgiving, around December 5, people who bought doorbusters on Black Friday go on eBay to sell them for a profit,” he reveals. “For example, a $200 TV on sale for $120 on Black Friday may go for about $160 on eBay. It’s not rock-bottom, but it’s still a much better deal than if you were to wait until mid-December.”

Snag snazzy gadgets.

Think Apple products like iPads never get discounted? Not so, promises Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst for DealNews.com whose work has been featured on MSN, Business Insider, Lifehacker, GoBankingRates and more. “Last season, we saw the best prices on iPads at Best Buy, B&H Photo Video and Target,” she reveals. “iPads that regularly cost $329 were selling for $250.” As for tech gifts you should consider taking off your list, at least for now: “Skip Sony and Microsoft game consoles because they’re releasing new models next holiday season— that’s when you’ll get a better deal on slightly older models.”

‘Target’ bargains.

Just knowing Target’s “secret” pricing schedule can net you steep savings, says James. “Prices ending with .88, .98, .48, .24 or .04 are on clearance,” he reveals. Check the upper-right corner of the price tag, and you’ll see a tiny number. It’s either a 15, 25, 50, 70 or 90. This is the percent off the original price. Says James, “Target continues to mark down items weekly until they’re all gone. So if you see ‘15’ in the corner, and they have a ton of inventory, there’s a great chance you can get it for 25 percent off next week. And so on!”

Stack like a pro.

Maximize savings by stacking coupons, urges James, who pinpoints a few standout policies: “Jo-Ann fabrics and crafts is very similar to Michaels— they’ll let you use competitor coupons from Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Hancock Fabrics. You can actually use a coupon from each place on the same transaction as long as you’re buying at least three items,” he says. Kohl’s is another stacking star: “You can combine a percent-off coupon with a dollar-off one, and two dollar off coupons on your online and in-store purchase.”

Shop outside the box.

Sometimes the best gifts can be found off the beaten path, says Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Your Christmas ($3.99, Amazon) and founder of Debt-Proof Living. “If there’s, say, a new homeowner on your list, head to the hardware store and fill an inexpensive toolbox with small tools, or for the creative type, visit an art store for pretty stationery.” Says Hunt, “In a few months, they might not remember what they got for Christmas, but they will remember how you made them feel, so give from the heart and you’ll never go wrong.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine. 

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