Most people imagine giving their loved ones the big presents of their dreams during the holidays. The scene is set: Early Christmas morning, your loved one heads outside to retrieve the newspaper and finds a shiny car or boat adorned with a bright red bow. The unprecedented glee upon your loved one’s face makes it clear you’re the holiday hero this year. But how one possibly afford such a gift without Christmas turning into a scene straight out of “The Gift of the Magi?”
By planning ahead and employing a few simple tricks, you can surprise your loved one with the expensive item he or she has been wishing for. Big gifts can be the most exciting experience of the holidays for both givers and receivers, so stuff your stockings (or fill your driveway) with Christmas’s best presents using these clever methods.
1. Wait for Sales
At the beginning of the year, most retailers carefully schedule their huge sales throughout the year. But of course some are during important holiday weekends, when people are away from work and looking to shop, which means you can generally plan to make your big purchase during these periods. Most crucially, the biggest sales of the year tend to start on Black Friday and extend through the holiday season. Still, even when a store catches your eye with their big, bright “Sale!” signs, be wary about the prices they advertise. Though vendors may say their merchandise is discounted, it is advisable to compare rates with other stores before committing to a particular item and price.
2. Use Unusual Vendors
Perhaps the best and most underutilized method of getting the best price is looking outside typical sources. While you are guaranteed to find a car or boat at a car or boat lot in your city, these vendors are betting high prices on your desire for convenience and lack of understanding of the market.
Instead, investigate alternative sources that might sell your gift at discount prices. For example, the classifieds in your local newspaper likely contain plenty of shiny, new merchandise from entrepreneurs or citizens who simply overestimated their desires. You may also choose to scour the Web for items on auction sites.
Many people don’t realize that charitable organizations are some of the biggest vendors of large items like boats and cars. Because these charities receive their merchandise via donation, they are able to resell their items at significant discounts, providing you with the absolute best deals possible. Then, if you and your recipient later want to upgrade, you can donate your boat or car right back and perhaps receive more money through a tax deduction than you would selling it outright.
3. Buy a Fixer-Upper
While used items are perhaps less glamorous than gleaming, new models, they do offer significant savings for buyers. If you opt for an item that needs more than a little TLC, you’ll be getting the absolute best bang for your buck, as rebuilding tends to cost less than purchasing a pretty, running vehicle from the start.
You may choose to get your used item up and running before the big reveal, or you can present the fixer-upper to your recipient as-is, with the promise of together-time working to fix it to his or her exact specifications. This way, you are not only offering a substantial present, but you are giving an intangible, irreplaceable gift of strengthened bonds.
3. Ask for Contributions
If you are struggling to afford even the cheapest option you can find, it might be best to make the gift a communal one. Ask for monetary contributions from fellow friends and family of the recipient. With enough people, you should be able to provide the holiday surprise of your dreams, and you’ll work together to provide a gift your recipient really wants rather than a handful of smaller, less desirable gifts. Most people will be more than eager to contribute, as it saves them from finding and buying a rival gift.
4. Negotiate, Haggle, or Barter
No matter where you choose to purchase your gift, you should always remember that the price tag isn’t necessarily what you have to pay. At many locations, the price tag is the highest amount salespeople hope to finagle out of ignorant buyers. Instead of accepting a rate and moving on, see how low you can haggle the price at every location you visit. You may find salespeople more than willing to renegotiate the terms of the sale as well as the price. Then, not only will you be presenting your recipient’s favorite holiday gift, but you’ll be honing your bartering skills in the process.