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When, where and how to save this holiday season

In the U.S., Black Friday (the day after American Thanksgiving) is known as one of the best times to nab holiday deals. Canada has started to implement its own “Black Friday” sales, but there are other ways to save money on your holiday shopping. We’re sharing some of our best tips for trimming your holiday spending this year.

Buy gifts with a credit card that gives back

Many of us pay for holiday shopping with a credit card to make things easier and more efficient. But why not earn money back with every holiday purchase you make? For example, with the SimplyCash Card from American Express, you get 5 per cent cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants in Canada (up to $250 cash back), and 1.25 per cent on all other purchases for the first six months. After six months, you’ll still get 1.25 per cent on everything you purchase. So you can essentially earn money back every time you use your card.

A recent survey conducted by American Express found that 92 per cent of Canadians believe it’s important to shop around to find the best deals. However, 29 per cent of those surveyed cite busy schedules and 37 per cent cite lack of discipline as factors that make it difficult for Canadians to shop around for good deals. But with cash back cards, it’s like getting a discount with every purchase.

Shop early

Both online and offline shoppers can find deals by starting their holiday shopping before December, which is when most people kick off the bulk of their gift buying. By starting in mid-November, you can nab “early bird” deals on items like ornaments, wrapping paper, decor items and even gifts, depending on what you’re after. It’s also a good idea to put a note in your calendar to snap up holiday items for next year when everything goes on sale at the end of the season. There’s no need to fight the Boxing Day hordes, but do peruse sale bins in early to mid-January to see what you can find.

Look for Cyber Monday deals

Following Black Friday, Cyber Monday is when you can nab deals online. Many Canadian retailers have been getting into the game and offering deals of their own. This year Cyber Monday falls on Dec. 1, and Best Buy will be offering online-only deals, as well as, GAP and Home Depot, just to name a few. Start searching your favourite retailers toward the end of October to get details on their Cyber Monday sales.

Scout big-ticket items right before Christmas

In the three or four days leading up to Christmas, many stores already start marking down big-ticket items (and other items) to make room for new merchandise that needs to take over the shelves post-holiday. If you have the stamina and all your other holiday chores are done or at least nearly done, then take a chance on the mall (mornings are usually better than afternoons or evenings) to see if that laptop or tablet you were coveting last month has come down in price.

Try price comparison sites

You can save a lot by taking the time to comparison shop, but as we mentioned earlier, many Canadians just don’t have the time. Why not let technology do the work for you? Whether you’re looking for electronics, kids’ toys, clothing or appliances, there are websites that compare prices for you. A few to try out include ShopToIt, PriceGrabber, Nextag and ShopBot.

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this post, however, are purely my own.

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