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Dec 19, 2007

Holiday Shopping on a Budget

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With the holidday shopping season around the corner, many consumers are evaluating their holiday spending activities. Often shopping budgets can soar into the thousands of dollars which may leave many consumers paying for gift purchases well into the New Year. For those on a tight budget, holiday shopping often becomes a point of stress and frustration.Yet, it is very possible to cover your holiday shopping list on a shoestring budget and actually save money in the long run. Take these top 10 tips and apply them to your shopping routine. If used correctly, these helpful hints can save you hundreds of dollars and many hours of lost of lost sleep.1.Make It: My favorite standby. When in doubt, cover as many people on your shopping list as possible with homemade gifts. Many cringe when hearing this suggestion; however, it is possible to offer unique and popular gifts by simply putting together a few key items. This will save your budget and keep costs down.Have a favorite cookie recipe? Gather all of the dry ingredients, and wrap them in decorated butcher paper. Put those into a decorative jar and provide instructions on the jar for mixing and baking the cookies. Such items often sell at specialty stores for $15 – 20 dollars. This can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost.2.Give action based coupons: This works best for family and close friends and is particularly good for a spouse or significant other. Create a coupon book from supplies around the house. Each coupon can be “turned in” for a specified favor or treat. From a massage for a spouse to extra television time for a child, the possibilities are endless. Have fun with it.3.Shop the discount stores: Think long and hard before doing your holiday shopping at the major retailers. Think about frequenting discount outlets for the majority of your purchases. Retailers such as Big Lots, TJ Maxx and Value City often provide the best bang for your buck. At prices that can be 50% less than the department store equivalent, it is well worth the trip.
4.Trim down the list: Do you really need to purchase a gift for Aunt Mary’s mailman? It may sound silly but our shopping lists become bloated to the point of insanity. Gift giving should be fun but not everyone expects or even needs a personal gift. Be sure to evaluate your list every year.5.Get creative: It is a cliché saying but think outside of the box. Get creative with your holiday shopping plans. In fact, you many not need shop at all. Throw a party and have everyone bring a dish. It is perfectly acceptable and even refreshing to provide life long memories rather an unwanted gift that will sit in a corner. Don’t stick to traditional gifts; think of what will have meaning for your family.6.Repurpose existing items: This can be a dicey one and takes careful planning, but it can be done. Make sure you mark down who gives you what gift. If the gift is unwanted, rather than throwing it out, give it to someone else on your list. The musical clock you got from Grandma not fit your taste? Give it at the office gift exchange or to a musically inclined friend. You are happy and so is the recipient!7.Save on wrapping: Wrapping paper and bows are expensive! Get creative with how you package your presents. Homemade wrapping does not always have to mean wrapping a package in the funnies from the newspaper. Get a large roll of plain butcher paper and some basic ribbon and stencils. Wrap and decorate your own presents. Not only will you save on wrapping and reduce waste, but you will be creating a person touch to your gifts. There are many possibilities!8.Go virtual: Opt for sending ecards instead of paper cards to as many people as possible. The sending of ecards is becoming the norm for holiday communications. Sites like hallmark.com offer free ecards in a variety of styles. This saves on cards, envelopes, stamps and car trips!9.Buy early: Shop throughout the year and keep an eye out for good specials. Always a good stand by, who says holiday shopping actually has to occur during the holidays? Stocking up all year long can save your sanity and your pocket book.10.Buy late: Just the opposite as buying early is shopping late. Congratulations to the procrastinators, it does pay to wait until the last minute. Stores will often deeply discount items in the few days before a holiday, hoping to squeeze out the last bit of profit for the season. Take advantage of this and keep your eyes open for those sUsing these tips can help to create a peaceful and stress free holiday shopping experience while saving money for the cash strapped consumer. We often forget the true meaning of the holiday season. Gift giving should be fun, not something that you are paying off for months down. pecial sales.