How to Save Money Holiday Shopping

by Laura Wallis | Follow Her on Twitter Here

 

How to save money holiday shopping!Got a long list for your holiday shopping? Spending too much can certainly take some of the joy out of the season. Here are some tips on how to save money holiday shopping.

 

I find there are a couple key ways you can save money. One is by shopping carefully and utilizing sites with tips on how to save on shopping in stores and online, even down to how to get free shipping. But another great way to save money holiday shopping is by buying less in the first place. Here are some ways to start.

 

Go through your gift list carefully and see where you can cut.

As the Grinch discovers, Christmas doesn’t come from a store. We don’t want to suggest that you stop recognizing special people during the holidays but it’s a shame to see people overspend.  And the truth is, everyone might appreciate it if you suggest an alternative to exchanging gifts, just because you “always have.” For example:

  • If you routinely buy gifts for coworkers, why not create a Secret Santa exchange, where you draw names. The gift opening event itself can be a fun party!
  • Or, if you traditionally buy gifts for girlfriends, why not spend your money on lunch or an evening out? You will spend less and enjoy their company too!
  • Drawing names works really well for adult relatives. Assign a dollar amount, and have each person give suggestions for what they’d like at that price point.
  •  If there’s a family with whom you regularly exchange gifts, why not do a family present rather than individual ones? Think a board game, a book or an outing to a children’s museum.

 

Talk with your kids about their lists.

We all know that kids tend to put everything and anything on their list. That’s why advertisers love having that captive audience. Have your kids keep a running list during the weeks leading up to key shopping dates. Then close to those strategic sale days, prioritize the list with them and see what things they really want, and what is just on there because it looked cool at the moment. Also, keep in mind that relatives might be asking for suggestions. Keep the list handy so you can offer useful ideas to family members who might not know what to buy.

 

Think carefully about what the person really needs.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in the moment buying something because it’s, well, easy. We’ve all done it- you see a bunch of candles or lotions on sale, and buy them because it seemed like an easy way to check off a few more items on your gift list. But did your recipient really want that, or were you buying something just to cross someone off the list? Try to set aside a few extra moments to think through the gift. It often saves you time in the long run by not having to return a bunch of items in the middle of all the holiday shopping traffic. Sometimes I throw items into the cart while racing around the aisles, and give myself the “is that really the right gift” question once I reach the checkout line.  If it isn’t really the best choice, I hand it back to the cashier to return. Even if it ends up being more than a couple of items, at least I am keeping the floor clerk employed!  And I didn’t end up with something that really wasn’t the best fit.

 

Give gifts with a theme.

If you have to buy for lots of people, see if you can choose one type of item that you give to everyone. For example, head to a bookstore and buy books for everyone — but customize them to what they would most want. Cookbooks, the latest best seller, a blank journal…all these can be found at a bookstore and it can make your list easy. You can do the same with music or movies.  Some stores might even give you a discount if you buy a certain amount. Or, put together a basket around a certain theme. You can hit the dollar store and put together a kitchen basket with tons of fun gadgets, then add some towels and a cookbook. Or, a movie at home basket with a favorite DVD (bought on sale!) combined with some microwave popcorn and a bunch of those big movie theater size candy boxes that you can get at a dollar store.

 

Earn loyalty points.

Shop at a store where you earn loyalty points. One of my favorite gifts to give is movie tickets — everyone appreciates them. But, I use my frequent buyer number and often end up with a free movie ticket or two for myself!

 

Give of yourself.

Rather than giving something wrapped, consider if your recipient might prefer something more personalized. For relatives, consider putting together a calendar or photo book of special photos. Often if you buy several from the large photo sites, they will give you a price break. Or, do you know someone who would appreciate a meal once a month? Or some yard work done? Or maybe they would appreciate having you scan all their recipes and making a personal cookbook. Giving a service can cost less and mean more to many of your recipients!

 

By being very thoughtful about who you buy for and what you buy, there are lots of ways you can save money holiday shopping. And watching our budget — without feeling like a Scrooge — is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

 

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