There’s no getting around the fact that shopping for holiday gifts for your family and friends can be difficult, to say the least. This is especially true when you’re working with limited funds, as many people are. However, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank in order to get your loved ones the special items they crave. For one thing, you could get creative with homemade gifts like baked goods, bath salts, decorated photo frames, or knitted scarves and berets, just for example. But if you’re not particularly crafty, there are certainly ways to save some money on your holiday shopping. Here are just a few tips that will turn you into the savvy shopper you want to be.
- Make a budget. This is important if you don’t want to overspend. Setting a budget will help you to dole out your funds accordingly so that the end of the holiday season doesn’t find you digging through the couch cushions in search of enough change for a coffee at Starbucks or a movie night with your friends. You’re going to be pretty pleased that you took the time to do this when you still have money left over come New Year’s Day.
- Make a list. Once you’ve got your budget in place it’s time to create a list of gift recipients, which should include family members and your best friends. The trick is to keep the list relatively small, especially if your budget is limited, so that you can allocate enough money to each person to get them something nice. And think about what each person might like. Sure, everyone would love an iPad, but that’s probably not realistic with your budget. If you’re stuck, go for gift cards. A $5 card for Starbucks is sure to get used by anyone who likes coffee, tea, or pastries and having a set amount can help you stick to your budget.
- Join clubs. If you want to get the best savings at stores you shop at frequently, consider going online to join their membership programs. These are generally free and they’ll deliver emails with information on sales, as well as offers for discounts, deals, and coupons. You might want to set up a separate Gmail account so that your regular mail isn’t inundated with spam, though.
- Pre-shop. Comparison shopping is a must if you want to save money during the holidays, and it can also save you a ton of time over driving from store to store in search of particular items. Most websites nowadays not only offer you a slew of savings on merchandise, but you can also enter your zip code to see if the items you want are available in a store near you. So it turns out there are multiple ways to save when you take the time to pre-shop. And the best part is that you can do it in your pajamas. You may even be able to call the store and have them hold the item you’re seeking until you can come and pick it up.
- Shop online. Unfortunately, you’re going to need plastic if you want to enjoy Amazon and Overstock discounts online. But all you have to do is set up a checking account at your local bank (something you’ve no doubt done already if you have a job that pays you by check or direct deposit). This way you can use your bank card to make online purchases and the money will be drawn directly from your account. Best of all, you can find all kinds of deals and even merchandise online that you won’t get in stores.