These Are The Best 2021 Holiday Shopping Days To Beat The Rush And Save Cash

Illustration: The Money Manual
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With the Covid-19 pandemic still around us and the Delta variant still having an impact on global shipping and creating supply chain issues, the looming holiday season may be a bit daunting to say the least for those of us looking forward to celebrating with loved ones in person this year. 

While online may be your normal go-to for shopping, keep in mind that the gifts you’re eyeballing may be stuck on a ship outside of a port for a while and shipping times can be significantly delayed and costs might have increased to compensate. The global supply chain is facing many challenges still due to the pandemic and to top it off it has been forecasted that 2021 will be a record online holiday spending season. These issues are likely going to impact your holiday shopping as you’ve never experienced before. 

Despite these lingering issues, your holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a money-sucking disaster. Here are some ideas for how to crush your shopping goals and get ahead, while making smart financial choices along the way. You’ll definitely want to take a look at the holiday calendar below to get started planning!

Table Of Contents:

Holiday Shopping Days

Holiday Shopping Apps

Shop Early

Shop Local

Consider Alternative Gifts And DIY


Busiest 2021 Holiday Shopping Days

If you are bound and determined to get the best deals and shop like you did pre-pandemic this holiday season, then you’ll want to take a look at our 2021 holiday shopping calendar. These dates are predicted to be the top 10 busiest holiday retail sales and shopping dates for 2021 and will likely correspond with major retailer sales. So take note.

2021 Holiday Date Shopping Calendar The Money Manual
Illustration: The Money Manual

You can work to further stretch your dollars by using some fantastic shopping apps. These can get you some money back or even accumulate points to score some gift cards that you can use to help offset your shopping costs. Or just give away those free gift cards as gifts.

Save Money With These Holiday Shopping Apps


InboxDollars offers cash back for online shopping and redeeming coupons offered through the app. Once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem your points for cash via PayPal, for Visa cash cards and gift cards to Amazon, Adidas, Macy’s, Target, Whole Foods, Nordstrom and more.

 Looking for ways to save money on your holiday shopping? This should be one of your first downloads.

Bonus! You can also get free samples which make great stocking stuffers! And you’ll also get $5 just for signing up.


Drop can earn you cash and gift cards for shopping at your favorite stores this holiday season. Simply download the app, pick five stores from its list of partner retailers, link a card and shop. 

Every time you make a purchase at your chosen stores in-person or online through the app, you’ll earn Drop points that can be redeemed for gift cards to your top five and any of the other stores available through the app. You can earn gift cards to places like Starbucks, Netflix, Amazon and more.

Use those gift cards to save a bit on your holiday shopping, or save them to give away as presents to those people on your holiday shopping list.

Fetch Rewards

This app helps you earn cash rewards for the shopping you do at any grocery store by turning your receipts into gift cards (remember to snap a pic of your receipts as soon as you have them in hand so they don’t get lost!)

All you do is download the app, shop and take a photo of your receipt. Fetch Rewards will scan it for any of the thousands of qualifying products that can score you points.

Once you’ve met the 3,000 point threshold, which is worth $3, you can redeem them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Sephora, Best Buy and Nordstrom. Or just stuff them in your kids’ stockings. Your choice.


The Swagbucks app is one of our favorite options for earning free gift cards and free stuff.

Here’s the deal: when you head to your local retailers or shop online, you can get free coupons (that earn rewards for redeeming) and you can score cash back deals for hundreds of retailers. Earn SB just for scanning product barcodes and your receipts while you’re shopping at physical stores. Each qualified scan is worth 5 SB! 

Then, you can take surveys about products and brands you are already shopping for. Doing these activities earn points that you can exchange for cash via PayPal and gift cards from Visa, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy and more. Swagbucks gives out 7,000 gift cards every day and since 2014, has already paid out more than $430 million in cash rewards to its members!

You’re basically earning money doing the holiday shopping you’re doing anyway! Now that’s a great deal.


If you’re feeling stressed about your holiday spending, Ibotta will make you feel a whole lot better by giving you cash back for purchases you make online, in-store or directly through the Ibotta app.

Whichever method you choose, just select the cash back offer available in the app you want to use and pay full price at checkout. When shopping online or in-store at Ibotta partner stores, upload your receipt afterward and the app will scan it and credit the cash back to your Ibotta account.

Pro tip: When you’re at the cash register, as soon as the cashier hands you the receipt, snap a pic with your phone so you don’t lose it by the time you get out of the store.

If you pay for your items directly through the app using its “Pay with Ibotta” feature, you’ll snag 10% cash back on the total of your purchase.

Ibotta works at 300 retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies across the nation. You’ve got to use the Ibotta app this holiday shopping season.


Another app that’s great for rewards shopping is Shopkick. Most shoppers can earn enough points — aka “kicks” — for a gift card in just a week. Earn points when shopping in-store by just walking in, scanning items and making purchases.

Earn online for visiting stores using the app and viewing certain offers to make purchases. Trade-in your points for gift cards to stores like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Starbucks and more. Then go ahead and use those gift cards to offset your holiday shopping costs (or stick them in a Christmas card as an extra cherry on top of your gift!)

Shop Early And Don’t Wait Until Christmas Eve

If you’re like many American shoppers, your typical holiday shopping routine tends to be about procrastinating and putting off your shopping until the last minute. Unfortunately with staffing shortages, shipping and supply chain disruptions, this year you are going to want to avoid procrastinating and get to your 2021 holiday season shopping in early. 

The earlier you start your shopping the better, and the following dates are going to be the busiest times with the best deals. So use this information wisely!

2021 Holiday Shopping Date List The Money Manual
Illustration: The Money Manual

Looking forward to just getting the holidays over? You’re not alone as many folks find this time of year more stressful than joyful. If this sounds like you, you may find some value in looking for shopping dates that come after Christmas when there are particularly fabulous deals to be had.

Shop Local And Support Small Businesses

There’s a lot to be said for small businesses this year in particular. Why not make a point to shop at your local mom and pop stores when you can? 

The local business around the corner is likely struggling to recoup their losses after the past year of insanity. They could use your support and money to keep their employees afloat and their doors open.

The mom and pop shops may also offer store sales to try and attract shoppers, so keep an eye out and look at our calendar to see if those common shopping sale dates correspond to your local stores’ sales as well (they very likely will). 

Pro tip: Keep an eye on your local store’s social media to know when they are having their sales!

The experience of finding your nearest cute small-town Main Street with unique stores may be worth it to spend time with friends or loved ones while finding your holiday gifts. Use it as an excuse to get out of town with your girlfriends for a weekend and make a real trip out of it!

Etsy is also a great resource for hand-crafted items you can purchase that will help an independent shop owner. Keep an eye on where the items will ship from, as anything coming from overseas will likely have a lengthy shipping time. A bunch of our suggested DIY gift ideas can be bought here if you’re not the crafty type but like to give handmade presents. 

Pro tip: Etsy has Black Friday sales!

Consider Alternatives To Store-Bought Gifts

There are many other ways to celebrate the holidays that don’t involve the commercialized store-bought gift exchange. Try getting creative and making something by hand. Cooking or baking goes in this category. Cookies and other edible treats make a great gift and will help keep you from needing to worry about the shopping spree so many others are addicted to this time of year.

Once you have your ingredients or materials then all you need to worry about is taking the time to get your project done.

DIY Holiday Gift Ideas:

Another alternative holiday gift idea is to give the gift of your time and give an experience rather than an item to your loved ones. While Covid-19 still makes traveling a bit risky, if you’re taking the proper precautions some traveling isn’t as much of a no-go as it was last year.

 A family trip with some framed pictures and downloaded videos as a present can give the gift of memories kept forever. The gift of your time with your significant other, your kids, your parents, or your friends, is more precious than ever.


We hope these tips help you manage your holiday shopping with ease and make the upcoming holiday season joyful and less stressful.

Remember to check out our shopping calendar so you remember the dates that will likely correspond to the biggest sales of the holiday shopping season. 

Also, be sure to check out our top apps for the holiday shopping season that will help you save:

InboxDollars($5 signup bonus)  

Earn cash back while you shop online, get access to free coupons for groceries, home, beauty etc. Earn cash back in your account for every coupon you redeem.


Start earning points right away as you shop. For every purchase you make, you get Drop points. Redeem your points at places like Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks.

Fetch Rewards

Earn points on any receipt from any store or restaurant. Redeem points for gift cards and other rewards.

Swagbucks($10 signup bonus)

Let brands know what you’re thinking and get paid for it. Earn free gift cards for answering surveys and more.


Get cash back on groceries and online shopping


Get paid for the shopping you already do, both in-store and online.

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