Budget Christmas gifts

Christmas Shopping Hacks That Will Save You Money

At iMoney, we are dedicated to helping our readers save money and budget smarter. That’s why we have created a list of tips that will help you cut down on your shopping expenses while getting the most out of your hard-earned money.

The ‘ber’ months have already started and so have the Christmas shopping season. The hunt for the best Christmas gifts is already in our to-do list. While there isn’t a shortage of stores to find gifts for your manito and manita, shopping for them on a budget doesn’t get easier. Besides, who would say no to some discounts and a little savings on their shopping expenses? 

With these tips and a little effort on your part, you can potentially save some hundred to thousands of pesos on your upcoming christmas shopping spree!

1. Take advantage of your credit card rewards points

If you’ve been a credit cardholder for almost a year and have been (efficiently) using it for your transactions, chances are, you’ve collected enough points to either pay for a purchase or exchange for some neat items.

Most people tend to forget that *some* credit cards have this feature because let’s face it, we’re all chasing our bills, and keeping track of those reward points is the least of our worries.  Well, guess what? The year has come to a close and as we’ve successfully made another lap around the sun, so did our credit cards (in case you haven’t noticed).

If you’ve been efficient enough and depending on your credit card utilization, your rewards point could equate to a one-way airfare or even a home appliance at the end of the year.

BPI Edge Mastercard

BPI Edge Mastercard

Cash advance 30% of your credit limit.

Low minimum monthly income requirement.

2. Use your cashback credit card

No matter what the occasion is, you could never go wrong in using your cashback credit card (just make sure to settle your credit card bills promptly so that it wouldn’t defeat the purpose of earning a cashback). It doesn’t exactly cut down your shopping cost, however, it will give you some extra cash credit at the end of your credit card’s billing cycle.

You may not feel the impact of the cashback upon earning them, but it will amount to a good sum of money in the long run. If you earn ₱500 worth of cashback in a month, that’s ₱6,000 money earned for the entire year!

While you don’t get to use that cashback directly, it will, however, give you a better perspective of how much difference a small amount of savings can go.

HSBC Gold Visa Cash Back Card

HSBC Gold Visa Cash Back Card

5% Cashback for all dining spends.

Low minimum monthly income requirement.

3. Vouchers, vouchers, vouchers

They’re a heaven-sent gift for people who love to shop online. From free shipping vouchers to actual discounts, you can score some great deals that will save you a good amount of money.

How and where to get shopping vouchers?
  • Zalora – they give ₱300 worth of shopping vouchers when you sign up for their newsletter.
  • Lazada –  oftentimes, Lazada explicitly displays their shopping vouchers on their homepage and on their banners. They often give out discount vouchers and any given day, and if you watch out for those, you might be able to score a good sum of money on discounts.
  • ShopBack and iPrice – being aggregator sites for different online marketplaces, they also aggregate vouchers from their featured merchants.
  • Metro deals – this website is a treasure trove of discounts and perks. If you’re looking for some good money-saving deals for a fancy dinner, vacation packages, hotel bookings, spa services, and etc., you can try your luck in checking out how affordable they can get from this website.

4. Shop from aggregator websites

ShopBack.ph and iPrice.ph feature a wide array of online merchants in a single catalog. You can compare and contrast items from different stores side-by-side, making it easier to find the lowest price for the item that you want to purchase.

These websites also partner with many e-commerce giants in the Philippines such as Lazada and Zalora, thus they also have many exclusive discount coupons from their partner merchants. When there’s a sale or promotion on their partner merchants’ sites, you can get exclusive discounts if you shop through their portal and use their vouchers.

5. Shop during flash-sales from popular online shopping sites

Shopee and Lazada are two of the most prominent e-commerce websites in Southeast Asia including the Philippines. These two rival shopping portals have made it a trend to leverage on Palindrome dates (dates that can be read the same backward and forwards) to hold more frequent flash sales than we ever had even in our biggest shopping malls.

What are these dates? They’re dates with a repeating sequence of numbers (not necessarily including the year) and they’re almost a monthly occasion for Lazada and Shopee. Typically towards the end of the year, these local ecommerce players hold website wide sale dubbed as 10-10 on October, 11-11 on November, and 12-12 on December. From free shipping to discount vouchers on chosen items, watching out for these flash sales will potentially save you thousands of pesos given that you shop is huge volumes – percect way to accomplish wishlists of your pamangkins and inaanak..

6. Shop from international retailers

Many imported items that we purchase in the Philippines go through a layer of transactions and tariffs before it reaches our local stores. From the supplier to the actual retailer, the pricing will undergo a series of pricing adjustments to generate revenue for the resellers. When an imported item reaches the Philippines, the price could be around 20 to 50 percent higher than its actual price.

It isn’t easy to shop internationally. The shipping limitation alone will already pose a challenge. You will also account for the shipping fee, which should be pricier than when you shop from local shopping sites. Depending on what you’re shopping for, the savings may or may not be worth the hassle.

What are the items best bought from international retailers?

Clothing and apparels (especially shoes!) take the cake for this option. Imported shoes made in the United States are at least 20 to 40% less expensive when bought from US-based retailers.

Shopping in US-based e-commerce sites used to be impossible for people living outside the US, as shipping are mostly limited domestically. If you don’t know anyone in the US who could shop and ship for you, there are now package consolidation companies based in the US such as MyUS (myus.com/ph/) and Planet Express. They provide a US postal address to ship items to and have them delivered to you in the Philippines.

7. Keep track of the exchange rate

The foreign exchange rates change daily, and it fluctuates at any given time in a week. If you’re shopping online from international retailers, ideally, it is wiser to hold off until the exchange rates for peso are higher.

Banks may also play a role in this because their exchange rates are usually higher than the actual rates. It helps to have a credit card from a bank that offers good rates and perks for shopping online and internationally.

Pro tip!

Use credit cards that will multiply your rewards for shopping internationally.

8. Track the prices

You can manually track the prices from one period to another, however, there’s an easier way to do so without having to do it manually. You can go to aggregate sites like iPrice.ph to compare the prices from one merchant to another or install a price tracker extension on your browser.

Price trackers

Tracking the price may not give you an actual discount, however, it can benefit you in two ways:

  1. It can tell you if a merchant is actually having a “sale” or not, based on their pricing history.
  2. It can tell you which items have been marked down (more applicable to electronics because price adjustments for old variants aren’t explicitly announced by merchants).

9. Give homemade gifts

Some of the best gifts you can give to those nearest and dearest to you are the ones you make yourself. The personal touch that comes with crafting a gift with your own hands can make the person receiving it feel extra special.

In the kitchen, you can whip up your own sauce or jam. Make your best friend a photo album with your best travel photos and a collage of your journey so far. Bake some wacky gingerbread cookies and cupcakes, among other things. The whole idea is to personalize a Christmas gift based on who you’re giving it to and what that person is fond of.

Don’t skimp on making the gift wrapper as well! It is crucial to present your gifts in a way that looks good for an Instagram snap!

10. Buy in bulk for non-perishable items

If you’re planning to give the same or similar gifts to multiple people, consider buying non-perishable items in bulk. This strategy can help you take advantage of discounts and reduce the cost per unit. Be mindful of the expiration dates and storage requirements for items like candles, bath products, or snacks.

11. Shop from thrift stores

Consider buying gifts from secondhand stores or thrift shops. You can find unique and affordable items, from vintage clothing to collectibles, at a fraction of the cost of new items. If you have bookworm friends, secondhand book stores such as Booksale, is a treasure trove of wonderful reads. In any case, this approach allows you to save money while still finding thoughtful gifts.

12. Come up with a budget and stick to it

It is essential to set a budget specifically for this time of the year if you want to avoid spending too much on gift shopping.

Refuse to participate in the pasikat culture for your peace of mind… and to protect your wallet. Boil your list down to the people who are really close to your heart. These people will appreciate simple but well thought out gifts that don’t really come at high price tags.

If you’re really strapped for cash, you can be shamelessly inventive by handing out what are called gifts of service. The idea is you hand out coupons of sorts that your giftees can use to redeem a service that you are willing to do for them. It could be a 15-minute massage or offer to be their personal shopper for a day. If you come to think of it, you’re giving the most expensive gift of all: Your time. It’s priceless.

The countdown to Christmas and the New Year is already well underway and many of us are already feeling the pinch from finding gifts for friends and family while trying not to spend all our money before month’s end.

Hopefully, these money-saving tips will help to ensure you and your bank balance remain healthy and happy through this holiday season.

[Source 1, 2]

This article was first published in December 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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