6 Easy Ways to Use Technology to Save on Christmas Shopping

There's no arguing that technology can make life a little sweeter in terms of saving us time and money — both things that tend to be at a premium during the holidays. Whether it's using free apps on your smartphone, or taking advantage of online shopping tricks to score the best deal, you should definitely consider using tech to lower your shopping bill in December and beyond. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Use a Christmas Shopping App

Since most of us are walking around with very powerful computers in our pockets, it makes sense to use our smartphones to manage our Christmas shopping. My favorite app is the free for iOS Santa's Bag, which allows you to create gift lists, import recipients, and most importantly, set a budget to keep your spending in check. The app interface is very intuitive and quickly gives you access to the gifts you have bought for each person along with how much of your budget is left for each recipient.

Another app worth downloading to help with your Christmas shopping is the free ShopSavvy (for iOS and Android). This app allows you to scan the barcode of the product you're considering purchasing and instantly find out if another store has it cheaper — or if it's available at a lower price online. If you use it consistently, it can easily save you 15%–20% off your shopping bill this year.

2. Social Media Is Santa's Best Friend

The next time you're standing in line waiting to purchase a couple Christmas gifts, pull out your smartphone and check the social media feeds of the retailer. Many are starting to proactively promote exclusive coupons and deals on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Often it will only require you to show the coupon on your phone to the cashier, which they will scan, and you'll collect the savings. Make it a healthy frugal habit whenever you're waiting at the register.

3. Hit Up Live Chat and Negotiate a Deal

While you may be able to ask a live chat operator for a coupon, are you aware that you can actually negotiate a lower price on certain items? This works best for laptops, HDTVs, and higher-end electronics. On a whim, I recently started a chat session with Dell.com and saved a quick $50 on a new laptop simply by asking if there was any wiggle room in the price. Be sure to negotiate the price before you add any coupon codes to your online order, as you're less likely to get a price reduction if the operator notices you're already getting a discount. Besides Dell, online retailers where this has been known to work include Hewlett Packard, Kohl's, JCPenney, and even Target.

4. Buy Gift Cards for Cheap

If you're planning on buying a gift card or two this year, be sure to first stop by a website like GiftCardGranny or Raise.com and purchase one for less than face value. These sites purchase unwanted gift cards from folks and then sell them back to you for a small profit. For example, you may find a $100 TJ Maxx gift card for $85, or a $50 JCPenney gift card for less than $45.

Also, if you're a little less tech savvy, be sure to try your local Costco. Not only do they have gift cards for big-box retailers, but they also have cards for local restaurants and attractions. Be aware that you'll typically have to buy a pack of three or four gift cards to save, but the savings is usually in the 15–20% range. The larger quantity can actually come in handy when buying for teachers and friends.

5. Always Seek Out a Coupon Code

If you're not seeking out a coupon code when shopping online, you're leaving significant money on the table. Make it a smart frugal habit to do a quick Google search for "[store name] coupons" and you stand a great chance of finding a money-saving code you can plug in while checking out from the retailer's website.

6. Stack Coupons at Target

Target has fairly competitive pricing to begin with, but be sure to stack coupons for some incredible savings. They'll actually let you stack a manufacturer coupon, a Target store coupon, and a Cartwheel offer on a single product. The best way to make this work is to first find a manufacturer coupon at CouponMom.com or Coupons.com, then print a Target-specific coupon from their site, then download the Cartwheel app and use one of their offers as well. If you can stack all three when shopping in-store, you can easily save 40%–65% off individual items.

What is your strategy to keep your spending in check and save money this time of year?

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Technology can save you time and money, especially during the christmas holidays. You can use free apps on your smartphone, to take advantage of online shopping tricks to score the best deal. Check out our tips for this festive season gifts and presents! | #christmas #gifts #technology #shoppingapps #frugalliving

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Jeff | VTX Capital

I've never heard of Santa's bag before and I definitely didn't know you could chat yourself into a better deal. Going to have to remember that!