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Jesse’s Holiday Shopping Survival Guide

Apps and websites are your friend – to not only save money, but make money! RetailMeNot.com is a huge collection of coupons you can use in stores and online.
iBotta and Drop are among the top rated for making money off your purchases. Apps like ShopSavvy let you scan bar codes and compare prices from stores and online retailers.

To Warranty or not to warranty – that is the question.
Consider these things: the price of the warranty, the price of the product and the cost to fix the worst covered repair. There is also the fine print in the paperwork which stores don’t always share at the cash register. In many cases, you don’t have to buy the warranty on the spot. Anything that happens in the first couple weeks of a product is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Take that time to research the product’s history and issues that could come up months later. Also, check your credit card which might offer warranties for purchases made on it.

Know the return policy. Sounds simple – but different stores have vastly different policies. 10% of holiday purchases are returned. Stores noted with having the best return policies include Land’s End, Ikea, Bath & Body works and REI.

What about gift cards? Under Washington law, gift cards from merchants and stores do not expire or have maintenance fees. However, if you have a gift card from Mastercard, Visa, American Express or any bank, those cards can expire and have fees.

Shipping the right way means the difference between a gift on the 25th… or nothing. By ground, it’s already too late… but don’t assume overnight or next day really mean what they say. For FedEx Overnight – you need to ship by Friday, December 21st. Even with Postal Service Priority Mail Express and UPS Next Day Air – you must get things shipped by Saturday December 22nd. Wait until Monday, and it likely won’t make it.

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