The Free Tool a Financial Expert Uses to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

published Nov 2, 2020
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Credit: Cathy Pyle

Though it might seem like just yesterday we were in the middle of summer, the holidays are in fact drawing near. You might be plotting out your festive decor or your movie watch list, and I’m guessing you’re almost certainly mulling over the gifts you’re planning to buy your loved ones. Whether the past year has been tough on your finances or you’re simply trying to be more budget-conscious, it never hurts to approach holiday shopping with savings in mind.

As the Head of Content for money-literacy website The Financial Diet, Holly Trantham is almost always thinking about saving money if she can, which includes using tools like web plugin ShopTagr to make the work even easier. Like the new Google Shopping widget, ShopTagr works by letting you add your prospective purchases to a list. The app then notifies you if the price drops on the item or if the site itself is holding a sale.

“If you have something specific in mind that you want to purchase, I think this is a great tool because it can help you pay what you’re actually comfortable spending rather than the full price,” Trantham notes. She’s also a fan of doing the groundwork yourself to support local shops, which are hurting more than ever right now. Her favorite place to look? Social media.

“Chain stores aren’t the only places with deals!” she notes. “My favorite boutique in my hometown always posts their new arrivals on Instagram, as well as any promotions they have going on.”

This is the year to give up the idea that pricier gifts are always better

While some loved ones might be proud of you for saving money on their gift (ahem, hi, Mom!) you might fight some lingering doubts that gifting someone an item that was on sale means you love them less. That is in no way true, and if ever there was a year to end that notion for good, it’s this one: In one study, 50 percent of Millennial and Generation Z respondents said they will be focusing on the holidays themselves rather than the gifts.

“It’s important to remember that a certain dollar amount does not make a gift more special!,” Trantham emphasized. She’s a fan of the DIY gift herself, adding that she gives her dad the same tin of homemade fudge every year. “It’s probably the least expensive but most appreciated gift I give every year,” she said. “There are so many good DIY options that anyone can make for cheap that still feel special. If you’re not into baking, DIY hot cocoa mixes, spice blends, or soup kits are so cute and fun.”

When in doubt, put yourself in your loved ones’ shoes

Overall, the key to giving any good gift is to put the recipient first, and to think about what might be nice for them to have in their life, not what you think they need to have. “I just try to be as personal as possible with gift-giving, and stick to things I know people will appreciate rather than things I think would be nice,” Trantham notes.

And if you’ve ever wanted to know what is on a financial expert’s gift list, look no further. For her loved ones, Trantham is eyeing “fun or useful home items, since so many of us are spending most of our time at home.” And if you don’t know someone well enough to know what they’d like, but you still want to extend a small token that you’re thinking of them, a nice candle always does the trick—and is often budget-conscious, too.