10 Tips For Financially Savvy Holiday Shopping

holiday-shopping-cartSo you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. No worries – there are still plenty of ways to save on your holiday purchases. Check out these top 10 tips for financially-savvy holiday shopping.

1. In the market for books, the Book Cellar at the Webster Library on the Upper East Side should be your go-to destination. Great selection of used and rare fiction and non-fiction books; adult, YA and children’s books. They’re all there on well-organized shelves, with informative and helpful staff and prices that will make you wish you had your own library. A few years back, I got the whole Harry Potter series for less than $10. It’s only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and the hours vary by day, so call ahead.

2. One of my favorite stores when the boys were younger was Family Dollar, where I picked up toys, stocking stuffers, PJs, and pretty natty outfits (mostly in the summer but some for cooler times). Had the boys not outgrown their racks, I’d still be making pilgrimages. (As with any purchase at dollar stores, be aware of comparable prices so you’ll know what’s a deal and what’s just masquerading as a bargain.)

3. Not only are Costco and BJ’s great places to pick up lox for Christmas morning, but their toy, electronics, and book aisles (not to mention kids’ clothing selection) are enough to make a kid call Santa. We’ve found Hot Wheels, walkie-talkies, games, books, building blocks, and other toys we’ve long since passed on.

4. While the artisan booths at the likes of Union Square, Grand Central, and Bryant Park aren’t screaming deals, their unique presents can be a great value. And it’s a fun way to spend a few hours if you can stand the cold.

5. Join Facebook groups like Manhattan Moms, UES Parent Connection, and a myriad of other groups not only for notices about pop-up sales, trunk shows and other deals but for unused clothing and accessories that parents are selling for less than retail.

6. I love discount stores like Lot-Less Closeouts, Deals, Jack’s 99 Cent Store, and Closeout Paradise. You can load up for if you hit it right. Some stores (even full-priced siblings like Duane Reade) have designated Giving Tree areas with $5 and $10 toys, so you can buy stock up—for your own kids but also contribute to the Toys for Tots box.

7. One of the best things about living in a city with small apartments is that parents are forever cleaning out closets—and thrift shops and consignment stores are the handy redistribution points. It’s not like you’re giving your kid a drooled-on stuffed puppy with gnawed off fur. Much of the furniture, clothing and toys are perfectly good, often unused. The pickings are particularly good for old-school games like Trivial Pursuit but also books, electronics, and little trinkets that little girls love—until their moms recycle the Elsa figurines to Housing Works for the next generation of “Frozen” fans.

8. Should you tire of shopping for things to dust, check out Groupon, LivingSocial, or other flash sale sites for bargains on experiences like massages and trips.

9. It doesn’t qualify technically as a discount, but we like to add to our kids’ Kiva accounts so they can make micro-loans to entrepreneurs around the world. The boys lend as little as $25 to businesspeople they select, getting repaid with interest. (While there is always the danger of not being repaid, we’ve never had an investment go bad.) So, in the end, they end up with more money than we put in, which I guess does qualify as a good deal.

10. And a bonus tip – shop after-Christmas sales for holiday cards, wrapping paper, and Christmas poppers that you can sock away for the next 364 days.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for more family shopping tips about using a family gift registry.

Hillary Chura blogs for New York Family about family-oriented money-saving tips. Follow her on Twitter at @hillarychura.