At this time of year many feel the need to trudge around the shops in time for Chanucah. With a little hidden shopping magic (and internet access), a raft of techniques can slash both costs and time.
Before I start my top techniques, ask yourselves: “What can I afford to spend on Chanucah?” Then work out how to have the best one possible within that budget. Chanucah is only eight days, don’t ruin the whole of the new year for it.
Hidden bargains on eBay
The website is full of new or used goodies that make perfect lower-cost presents. But eBay is so big now — a mass of bidders drive prices up. Yet there is a way to grab things below the standard value by finding items which are in less demand.
My eBay Local Deals Mapper at www.moneysavingexpert.com/ebaylocal searches “pick-up only” deals near you. As this often means fewer bids, there are bargains to be had.
A different approach is taken by www.fatfingers.co.uk and www.goofbid.com, which trawl eBay for all possible spelling mistake combinations. Wrongly-spelled products attract fewer bids because people miss them.
Use a shopbot
A shopbot — or shopping robot — is a site that does a price comparison for you. So instead of just using Amazon, you search a range of e-tailers to find the cheaper price in the same time. Top shopbots include www.bookbrain.co.uk (for books), www.twenga.co.uk and www.foundem.co.uk. How good the different sites are depends on what you are searching for — www.megashopbot.com picks the best shopbots for you, depending on what you choose to scan.
5% off all Chanucah and January sales shopping
Cashback credit cards pay you every time you spend on them. So, provided you set up a direct debit to always repay the card in full, and thus avoid the usual 20 per cent APR interest, you are quids in. Right now, both Capital One and Amex’s Everyday pay a huge 5 per cent back on the first £2,000 of spending in the first three months. So grab one and you will have this high cashback for the crucial December and January sales periods.
Peek at web outlets
You will likely have heard of outlet stores, usually in big retail parks, selling last year’s lines at up to 90 per cent-off discounts. Over the past year, this trend has moved to the web. A host of online outlets now give the same discounts, but without the trek. Some have their own websites, others do it via eBay.
Examples include M&S (www.marksandspencer.com/outlet), House of Fraser (http://stores.ebay.co.uk/House-of-Fraser) and Net A Porter (www.theoutnet.com). A full list of online outlets is at www.moneysavingexpert.com/outlets
Amazon’s 70% off hidden bargain basements
There is a trick you can use by manipulating its web addresses, which enables you to build section pages organised purely by the biggest discounts. I have a tool which builds pages for you at www.moneysavingexpert.com/amazontool. Put in what you are looking for and how big a discount you want.
Uncover hidden BIG brand flash sales
Many branded and designer goods e-tailers run membership clubs that give the illusion you are being let in on an exclusive retail secret to bag luxury brands for a fraction of the high street price. Register for free and you could pick up designer brands like Gucci and Prada as well as mid-range brands for up to 70 per cent off the retail cost.
Provided you price compare there can be bargains. Sites include Brandalley.co.uk, Cocosa.com and Venteprivee.com.
There are some wonderful and weird charity gifts allowing you to contribute to good causes. How about blankets for five babies for £15 from Unicef? Other charities raising funds this way include Sightsavers (giftofsight.co.uk) and WWF (wwf.org.uk).
Tesco’s DOUBLE exchange
Until 5 December, Tesco is running its Christmas exchange, letting you double the value of Clubcard vouchers in-store and online on selected departments. Crucially at this time of year, these include toys and bikes and frozen food. Better still, you can use Tesco Clubcard Rewards (tesco.com/clubcard/deals) to sometimes get up to four times the value.
There is also a way to reclaim old lost or unused vouchers — some have got £100s back. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/tesco.
Use cashback websites
Once you have found the cheapest store, see if you can get paid cashback on top. A number of sites get paid by online shops for sending traffic, then give you a cut. The top cashback sites are Quidco.com and Topcashback.co.uk.