Between family members, significant others, friends and even the occasional professor, buying holiday gifts for everyone can get extremely overwhelming – and expensive.

As many students have limited budgets, it’s crucial to stick to the stores that offer the best deals. Luckily, the holiday season has no shortage of deals, but navigating one’s way through a plethora of advertisements and options can be tricky. To help students secure the best deals and end the year on a good note monetarily, CengageBrain, the premier destination for purchasing Cengage Learning textbooks and part of Cengage Learning, has put together a list of the top helpful hints for bargain shopping. 

  • Browse Ads:  

Black Friday sales, or in some cases, Black Thursday, contain an enormous amount of deals, savings and even door busters. However, the situation on site can get a little hectic. Luckily, the stores place advertisements with the special deals in newspapers and often online. If studying or family matters keep you from the first sales, remember that many stores continue to have great deals throughout the entire holiday season. Familiarize yourself with the sale offerings and have a handful of items in mind to purchase. 

  • Have a Gift List:  

It’s always easier – and smarter – to go into a somewhat crazy shopping situation with a plan in mind. Before heading to the store, make a list of who you need to buy gifts for and one or two potential gift ideas. The basic organization will allow you to easily visualize what you still need and what you have. This will also help avoid any impulse shopping. 

  • Check for Student Discounts: 

Several stores offer discounts for students with valid school IDs. Check online before shopping or ask the sales associate if any special deals apply for students. Although it may not seem like a lot, a 10-15 percent discount can help reduce expenses throughout the holidays.  

  • Know Your Limits:  

Before starting a list or even thinking about buying an extra TV for the living room, know your ultimate budget and stick to it. Keep in mind any expenses for the upcoming semester and leave some wiggle room for additional textbooks and supplies. To help monitor your budget, maintain a list of what you’ve purchased and the cost. Which brings us to the next point… 

  • Save Your Receipts: 

This not only helps manage and stick to a budget, but there are occasional instances where the correct deal is not given. Check your receipts after each purchase to ensure you’ve received the best deal. In addition, you’ll need to retain receipts for any returns you or the gift receiver makes. 

  • Compare Deals:  

Whether you’re opting for online shopping or in-store, take the time to make sure you’re getting the best price available. Some stores offer a price-match guarantee and will match the price of a competitor’s deal if you bring in the advertisement. Don’t forget about coupons too, they can help save an extra percentage from the already discounted price. 

  • Take Advantage of Free Shipping: 

For those who do not dare face the crowds during the holiday shopping season, the online shopping world is a great resource. However, shipping costs can add anywhere from $5-$15 to the total, which can be a deal breaker if using multiple online sites. Look for websites that offer free shipping and returns to lower costs. 

Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. Questia, part of Cengage Learning, is the Web’s premier online collection of copyrighted fiction and non-fiction books, academic journals and research periodicals for students and includes integrated tools for note taking, organizing research, citing sources, creating footnotes and building bibliographies to help students write better research papers faster. For more information, visit or

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