Nothing's more stressful than trying to get something to ship on time before Christmas Eve or New Years or having enough of a budget to buy gifts. I certainly don't want to shop months in advance without any holiday savings or discounts that seem to only run after Black Friday (US) near the end of November. So what to do? Here are a few tips, that you can even use throughout the year to help you save:

Use a shopping price match and/or tagging service

There are many free options, I currently use and love ShopTagr, it's been growing in popularity since the summer — not sponsored! It's an extension on your browser and it provides a personalized page where you can categorize and add all the items you've been eyeing. If the online store is supported, you will immediately add the item into your page. If it isn't, they'll eventually add it to their system and will update their list of supported stores, simply from analyzing where you tried to add an item. You can customize when you want them to notify you, such as 25%, 50% or any price change or restock of an item. You may come across a bug or two when it comes to tracking but it's generally quick to notify you via email of new changes or updates from the team.

For those with who shop at Amazon, CamelCamelCamel is a great data system, also a browser extension, for watching prices rise and fall for a particular item. You can catch when the item has an actual rebate vs a false discount... we all know that happens in EVERY store... cough "80% off" cough.

A better alternative is called Keepa, where you can track all your prices in your profile and it also adds a very nice historical price chart that you can customize to your liking. I personally use Keepa over CamelCamelCamel.

Keepa Amazon historical pricing chart

Cash back cash back cash back! 💵💵💵

I'll be focused more on services available in Canada since I'm Canadian.

The all around famous Ebates is a well-known cash back service that is free to use. They often have double cash back events that change every week. As you can see from my screenshot I've gotten about $70 CAD back since I've started using this. I'm not a huge spender if you're worried about having to spend ridiculous amounts in order to get some returns. If you're disciplined at using this whenever you shop online, the amount that you'll get in return will grow rapidly.

Another great one but less popular is the Great Canadian Rebates. Although their UI is very not modern and is somewhat stuck in the early 2000s, it is still a legitimate site for cash back, I've received a few payments from them already. You might judge for how the user interface looks but sometimes their cash back rates are way better than Ebates!

Big Tip: If you use an ad blocker, make sure you disable it before you even click on those cash back links. Otherwise the tracker will not work and you will not get paid!

Use a shipping tracking service/app

Nothing's more annoying than tracking each individual shipping number on several separate courier websites. There are free services that allow you to track all your shopping orders in one place and get organized. Here's my list, none are affiliated links.

17Track Available on web, Android, iOS, Windows - Free to use, web app does not need account registration.

Aftership Available on web, Android, iOS - Modern simplistic tracking service for your account, updates quicker than Canada Post website (oh girl... I could go on for days). Has a free plan and supports over 400 carriers. Currently my holy grail.

Arrive Available on iOS only - Free to use, tracks the entire path and shipment process supporting over 400 carriers.

PackageTrackr Available on web only - Free to use, no need for account registration.

For those who are in Eastern Canada and has shopped on Amazon, you should know about the Intelcom shipping services. They're unfortunately not available on most online tracking services since they're a small company right now, but they have their own tracking page.

Of course, I'd suggest free shipping as always to save some money and always do try to estimate the package travel time before it can arrive to you. If it's untracked, you will most likely have to wait 3-6 weeks during the busy seasons.

If you're worried, I'd suggest paying $2-3 more for a tracking number (most Ebay stores will offer that). Always check their shipping/delivery policies, they'll often list a table of countries that they can send to and an approximate delivery window for the time it needs.

If you have a worry of package theft, there are methods to mitigate that problem. I can only imagine the stress it causes to find out that it was delivered but no package is to be seen at your door or mailbox. For Canadians, you can use FlexDelivery by Canada Post to have the mailman deliver your box at a safe Canada Post office. It is absolutely free and can be extremely useful - especially if you order that giant Nespresso box that can't fit any mailbox or place without being seen.

However, keep in mind that you can only use the FlexDelivery address if the sender delivers via their local delivery services. For example if the US delivers by USPS and not private delivery companies like UPS/Fedex/Purolator/DHL etc.

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