It’s the end of October, and before we know it we’ll be caught in the haze of holiday gift shopping again. With just a few months before the holiday season gets into full swing, now is the time to create a plan for holiday gift shopping that doesn’t include breaking the bank. These tips will help you save money this year without destroying your holiday spirit.
- Make a list and check it twice. Set your budget and a shopping deadline, AND THEN create a list of everyone you’re planning to shop for and possible gift ideas. This removes some of the last-minute pressure and helps you stay organized.
- Start early. Set aside money as early as possible (even if it’s just $5 from each paycheck). Pack your lunch instead of spending $8 every day on food, and consider setting up an automatic deposit to your savings account or holiday club fund.
- Don’t wait. Keep your eyes open year-round for gifts your friends or family might like so you’re not rushing at the last minute. Once December arrives, you’ll already have a few people crossed off your list plus extra cash in your pocket.
- Shop deals and steals. If you’re looking for great deals on your gifts, consider braving the crowd on Black Friday or searching online for specials, especially during Cyber Monday.
- Get creative. Thanks to the DIY movement, handmade gifts have never been hotter! Think about items the person you’re shopping for would love that incorporate your talents — a homemade scarf, for example. Homemade gifts take more time and commitment, but they carry greater sentimental value than any store-bought gift.
- Shop discount stores, thrift shops and garage sales. You’ll be surprised what unique, one-of-a-kind items you can find, and how much money you’ll save compared to the shopping malls and big-box stores.
- Before running out to buy wrapping paper or holiday decorations, give your house a good clean. You never know what you have laying around from last year, which could equal savings this year.
- If feasible, consider picking up a seasonal, freelance or “odd” job. The extra income will increase your shopping budget.
- Don’t feel obligated to attend every single holiday event you’re invited to, especially if it costs money. There are plenty of cheap or free events — local tree lighting ceremonies, parades, holiday performances, caroling — you can still participate in without feeling like a Grinch.
- Big family? Agree on a sensible gift exchange plan with friends and family. A “secret Santa” or white elephant exchange may be more cost-effective and save you from spending bucko bucks on every person you know.
How do you save money for the holidays?