Christmas always seems to arrive sooner than you think. Whether you have a lot of shopping to do or you only buy for a few close family and friends, planning ahead and smart shopping can save you big money!
Get an early start. Some folks like to buy their holiday decorations in the first week of the New Year. That might be a bit too early for you, but it’s best to hit the stores before everyone else does. If you have the room, pick up gift items year-round when they’re on sale. Then, you can store them (wrapped if necessary) until December rolls around.
Decide on your budget and what you want to get each person on your list. You can make a list on your phone or use old-fashioned paper and pencil. Either way, having a plan will help you avoid impulse purchases. Don’t forget to include the costs of shipping and postage if you have loved ones far away.
Never spend more than you can afford. It feels great to give nice gifts, but you shouldn’t overextend yourself to do so. If you need to, ask a friend to shop with you to keep you accountable. If you have a large family, offer to organize a gift exchange so that everybody buys for just one person each year. Your family will probably be glad to save money, too!
Shop online. But even if you prefer to buy in person, a little online browsing will give you a better idea of how much an item should cost. Plus, user reviews can help you decide whether that new smartphone, video game, or stroller is a great value or a purchase you’ll regret later.
Make gifts for your friends and family. A personalized gift like a knit cap or jar of soup mix is practical and can be enjoyed long after more expensive gifts are gathering dust on a shelf.
Always keep your receipts. Ask for gift receipts if the store gives them. You’ll want to keep them in case there’s a problem with your purchase later.
Want to surprise a loved one, but not sure what to get them? Try a personalized gift card. Ordering a personalized gift card will save you the time and hassle of mall shopping. It’ll never be the wrong color or size. And if it’s lost or stolen, the card can easily be replaced for the unspent amount.
Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be scary or expensive. Start now and set your goals, and you could be on your way to a stress-free December. And if you put the money you save in your savings account or retirement account, you can help make your future a little merrier too.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.