It’s that time of the year. People are scrambling around, in and out of retail stores, buying gifts and going out of their financial minds for the biggest gift-giving holiday. Everyone has their gift lists ready and is bombarding the malls in hopes of getting some deals on “stuff” they want to give to their loved ones. But please don’t be that person that person who ignores their household budget and spends bill money just to surprise and please family and friends with some gifts. What can you do to make sure that you aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul or borrowing money, then regretting it later? Gift giving can be joyous but should not supersede financial necessities.
Here are a few tips on how to save on your holiday shopping while not going broke.
It’s Only One Freakin’ Day
Keep in mind that everyone is voraciously spending for the big day. It is literally only one day, and you don’t need to buy everything your children and/or spouse want in order to make it a great day. Include some fun and memorable activities that are free yet priceless. By the way, the day after the big day is the best time to shop. Stores mark everything down the day after the holiday to get rid of old inventory to make room for the next year’s inventory.
Get Out Early
When buying gifts, get out early to catch some of the pre-holiday sales. Shopping for gifts as early as possible will help you avoid the crazed crowds and financial frenzies during the holiday shopping peak, like Black Friday and the night before Christmas. Also, shop at the grocery store early for holiday dinners and meals when the needed ingredients are on sale.
Stores like the Dollar Tree or Family Dollar have great prices for seasonings, pie fillings and canned goods, as well as holiday decor. If you have children under the age of five, the dollar stores have a nice selection of toys that are fun and inexpensive. Since they are probably going to break or get bored with the toys quickly, doing so with cheaper items won’t hurt your feelings or your bank account as much.
Nowadays, if your store doesn’t have an online shop, you’re out of business. With the likes of Amazon Prime, shopping online is the most economical and easiest way to shop. For starters, it’s easy to compare pricing, with just the click of a tab versus a sprint down the road. Furthermore, stores often give incentives to customers who shop online (i.e., BOGOs—buy one get one), money off purchases over a certain amount and free shipping. Shopping online will not only save you time, but it will help you avoid the mental and physical anguish of standing in those long, slow store lines. When shopping online, don’t forget to take into consideration the time it may take to ship, especially if you want the gift to arrive on or before the big holiday.
Get Gift Cards
Cash is king, even in the form of a gift card. Instead of breaking the bank with buying actual gifts for everyone, set a specific dollar amount, like $10, $20, $50 or $100 and buy gift cards to give as gifts. Gift cards allow the receiver to buy what they really want.
Respect the Spending Plan
Determine how much you want and can afford to spend for holiday shopping. Take that amount in cash with you when you go shopping and leave the extra debit and credit cards at home. Using cash only during holiday shopping will help you spend within your limit and give you a realistic sense of how much you are spending. And if you’re still not swayed to spend less this holiday, let me leave you with this. According to research from Carnegie Mellon University and Indiana University, while gift givers think an expensive gift would be more enjoyable to the recipient, receivers don’t necessarily correlate price to the value of that gift. In other words, spend more effort on the thought than more money on the gift after all, it’s the thought that counts. —Tarra Jackson