The holiday shopping season has arrived and the traffic at the mall is beginning to increase. For the budget-minded consumer, there are plenty of ways to cut costs on holiday shopping. While many consumers will be paying an extravagant amount of their hard-earned money on Christmas gifts for their friends and loved ones, financially-savvy consumers know how to better stretch their money at the mall and stand-alone stores alike. Some consumers have even mastered the fine art of getting their gifts for free.
Getting free Christmas gifts for your friends and your family may seem like a far-fetched gimmick, but with some strategic planning it is quite easy to keep your budget intact by scoring free Christmas gifts. Here is a look at how some consumers are getting their Christmas gifts to give to their friends and family, free of charge.

Cashing in Loyalty Points
Many retail stores offer customer loyalty programs. These programs provide rewards to frequent customers based upon the amount they spend; the more you spend, the more you typically earn back. If there is a store you shop at frequently that offers a customer loyalty program, find out if you are eligible to cash out. Many stores provide free merchandise or monetary value rewards as appreciation for being a loyal customer. What better time to cash in those reward points than during the holiday season when you are spending money on holiday gifts? Often you can check eligibility, reward opportunities and balances on the retailer's website. By applying your reward points to holiday purchases, or giving away merchandise rewards as gifts, you are essentially receiving and giving free gifts.

Strategically Combining Sales with Extreme Couponing Methods
Another way that many consumers are using to get free Christmas gifts is by strategically combining retail sales with extreme couponing methods. Coupons from manufacturers seem to fly through various communication channels such as postal mail, e-mail, text messaging and more, in an attempt to convince consumers to shop at their retail stores. These coupons, when combined with great sales, can provide the ultimate in savings. This strategy does not work all the time, however, because some stores have rules and regulations on what purchases coupons can be used on and whether you can combine a coupon with a sale. Prior to shopping you may want to check out the store's rules on their website.

Third-Party Online Rewards Programs
Third party online rewards programs are another great way to score free Christmas gifts for your friends and family. Websites such as eBates.com provide incentive for shoppers to visit their website first, prior to making an online purchase. Ebates.com offers cash back at varying percentage rates, depending on the retailer. By earning cash back rewards on your purchases throughout the year, you can easily receive a large bonus check just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Charities Provide Free Christmas Gifts for Low-Income Families
An option for families who are seriously struggling financially is to accept assistance from generous local and national charities that provide Christmas gifts for children from low-income families. Some examples of these charities include the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Angel Tree, although there are more. While many of the organizations that offer assistance will not require you to prove your financial need, you may need to explain why you are incapable of purchasing the gifts yourself. With that being said, these organizations are only for parents in truly dire financial straits, who would not be able to purchase their children Christmas gifts.

Cash In Old Gift Cards
A gift-giving trend that is growing in popularity is the exchange of gift cards. Gift cards are a great alternative when you are not quite sure what to get someone on your Christmas list. While many consumers use their gift cards right away, others allow them to sit in their wallets, forgotten about. Prior to paying out of pocket, check your wallet to see if you have any gift cards you can use. By using gift cards for your holiday purchases, you aren't actually taking any money out of your own pocket. Meanwhile your gifts are purchased and your holiday budget remains intact.

The Bottom Line
While most people want to give their family and friends lavish gifts, the truth is, most of us just don't have the financial fortitude to be as generous as we would like to be. That is where cost-saving measures come into play. By getting gifts at a low price or free, you are helping keep your holiday costs in check.

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    PGX: PowerShares Preferred ETF

    Read an in-depth analysis of the PowerShares Preferred ETF, a preferred share-based ETF that focuses on generating investor income.
  2. Budgeting

    How to Talk to Your Family About Christmas Gift Budgets

    Talking Christmas gift budgets with family members can be hard, but having the talk will help you stay on track financially.
  3. Budgeting

    These Energy Saving Tips Are Like A Holiday Bonus

    You can enjoy the festive season without a jolly increase in your energy costs. We'll show you how.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Best Buy's Cyber Week: Can it Trump Cyber Monday?

    Best Buy has been one of the most up and down retailers over the years. It recently took an innovative step to improve performance. Will it work?
  5. Credit & Loans

    How To Minimize Holiday Debt Before It Happens

    Holiday expenses can drown you in debt. Find out how to avoid this festive spending hangover.
  6. Savings

    6 Ways to Save on Holiday Wine and Spirits

    Get started on your planning and spending now, so you are prepared when the holiday trifecta (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year) hits.
  7. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Simple Math for Fixed-Coupon Corporate Bonds

    A guide to help to understand the simple math behind fixed-coupon corporate bonds.
  8. Budgeting

    How to Manage Your Grocery Budget

    Managing your grocery budget can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be. These simple changes in the kitchen will help.
  9. Bonds & Fixed Income

    A Guide to High Yield Corporate Bonds

    The universe of corporate high yield bonds encompasses multiple different types and structures.
  10. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How Groupon Makes Money (GRPN)

    Find out how Groupon makes money, including a rundown of how Groupon works and what benefits it provides to the businesses it partners with.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Who do hedge funds lend money to?

    Many traditional lenders and banks are failing to provide loans. In their absence, hedge funds have begun to fill the gap. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the correlation between a coupon rate and the convexity of a given bond?

    Generally speaking, convexity decreases as yields increase (geometrically, the yield curve tends to flatten at higher yields). ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can I calculate a bond's coupon rate in Excel?

    A bond's coupon rate is simply the rate of interest it pays each year, expressed as a percentage of the bond's par value. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do interest rates affect a bond's coupon rate?

    A bond's coupon rate is directly affected by national interest rates, and consequently, so is its market price. Newly issued ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the different types of college savings accounts?

    The resulting Macaulay duration of a zero-coupon bond is equal to the time to maturity of the bond. A zero-coupon bond is ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center