How To Use Your Smartphone To Save On Holiday Gifts

The Christmas shopping season has begun in earnest, and everyone’s looking for the right gift. And also to avoid going completely broke. Fortunately, most of us have a computer in our pockets; here’s how to use it to save money on gifts.

If Cell Service Is Blocked, Leave

While this is rare, there is no more vivid red flag that you shouldn’t shop somewhere than walking in and seeing your phone lose all bars. As mobile phone jammers tend to be illegal, it’s more likely the store will, say, put mesh in the roof, or disable (or not install) femtocells to ensure you can’t use your phone. If you see this, they don’t want you comparing prices, and there’s no reason to stick around; they’ve already told you you won’t get the best deal.

Disable Location Features

The best way to get around a lot of digital chicanery is to go dark on your GPS; a lot of stuff designed to inflate prices uses your phone’s location to determine whether or not to pull a fast one. Open your settings before you leave the house and turn off your GPS and other location features.

Use An Independent Price Comparison App

It may shock you to discover that the “handy” price comparison tools offered in stores may not necessarily be telling you the whole truth. Even when they are run fairly, they may only, for example, compare the price with the in-store price of other shops in the mall. Use an independent app, like RedLaser, to compare prices as necessary.

Use Internal Apps

You’re not done yet, though. At this point, most retailers have admitted that the Internet exists and might be a useful method for selling things, but they won’t match their website prices. They will, however, let you buy an item on the website with free in-store pickup. So, check their internal apps; it’s often a good way to save a few bucks, or get an item without having to buy an annoying “bundle.”

Remember To Add Shipping To Online Prices

Most online prices are lower, but before leaving the store, check what you’re paying for in shipping. Even sites with reasonable shipping policies are going to fall victim to the fact that every package delivery service is officially in overworked mode. For a lot of items, the web price and in-store pickup feature means a decent savings.

Price-Check Everything

If you see the word “bundle”, make it a point to check the price on everything in that bundle. For example, if there’s a TV that comes with “discounted” HDMI cables, odds are pretty good you’ll be able to find no-name cables that do the same job for a much lower price. This is especially problematic with tech products; retailers love to take an in-demand item and make it impossible to get without overpaying for a bunch of accessories your recipient probably doesn’t need.

Got any other ways to save on gifts? Let us know in the comments!

(Image courtesy of Matti Mattila on Flickr)