(BPT) - It's the most anticipated shopping season of the year - and many people wait for months to score the best prices on a new smartphone, TV, speaker, watch or the latest high-tech gifts for loved ones.
'The holidays are about creating memories, but you want to do it without breaking the bank or going into debt,' says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, author of the New York Times bestselling book Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom. 'You can still embrace the spirit of the gifting season, connect with loved ones, and celebrate - all without financial stress.'
Khalfani-Cox, also known as The Money Coach, shares her best tips on shopping for tech gifts to ensure holiday cheers don't become financial woes.
1. Shop around.
You don't have to wait until Black Friday to get the best discounts on devices. Many retailers announce their sales ahead of time, so watch for flyers and emails from your favorite spots. If you have your eye on a certain item, check out prices at several places before you decide to make a purchase. If you're shopping online, you can add an item to your cart before checking other sites. Then, if it ends up being a price you like, you can easily come back to your cart to place an order.
2. Choose the right phone plan or phone to save and connect.
The holidays are a time when you're likely to make a lot more calls to family and friends. If a new smartphone is on your shopping list, a prepaid phone plan can help save money and give you more payment flexibility in addition to letting you easily stay in touch with loved ones. Prepaid wireless plans don't require a contract or credit check, and there are no penalties. Straight Talk Wireless, the leading prepaid brand on America's most-reliable 5G network1, offers plans that deliver more value and fit every budget. Sold exclusively at Walmart, all Straight Talk Unlimited Gold and Platinum plans include a Walmart+ membership at no extra cost, giving you extra benefits and savings - like early access to shopping deals and free deliveries - that are perfect for the holiday season. They're also now offering the iPhone SE for just $49 in Walmart stores while supplies last.
And if you're an Android fan, check out carriers like Total by Verizon. If you switch to Total by Verizon, you can get a free Samsung Galaxy A13 5G phone when you sign up for an Unlimited plan - which boasts four lines for $25/line with Auto Pay.
3. Beware of hidden fees and policies.
When shopping around for tech deals, always read the fine print, especially if you're in the market for a new phone. Some wireless phone offerings have hidden fees and charges involved. Others may require you to sign up for autopay to get certain discounts. Watch out for these rules to save on unexpected costs.
If you're shopping for other tech devices, be sure to know each store's price-match and return policies. You'll likely have a limited number of days to return items. You also don't want to get stuck with a restocking fee if you end up wanting to return an item to the store.
4. Check your social apps.
The social media feeds of your favorite retailers often offer exclusive deals and promotions. Stores like to reward customers who follow and engage with their content with special alerts to Black Friday discounts and incentives on Facebook, Instagram or other platforms. If you're active on social media, consider following along with your go-to brands during the holiday season for the latest deals.
5. Use loyalty programs.
Another way to get access to early sales, coupons and promotions is to join a store's loyalty program through email or text. These programs are usually free to join and often offer additional incentives like free shipping or pick-up in store and rewards to use toward future purchases.
Make it a season of merriment by maximizing your budget for the holidays. Follow these tips to find shopping success on all your tech gifts and needs this year.
1 Most reliable 5G network based on more first place rankings in RootMetrics' 5G data reliability assessments of 125 metro markets conducted in 1H 2022. Tested with best commercially available smartphones on three national mobile networks across all available network types. Your experiences may vary. RootMetrics rankings are not an endorsement of Verizon.