7 holiday shopping tips

( — Who wants to start the year buried in a combined pile of Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas bills? You certainly do not want to start the year that way – and with some forethought and planning, you do not have to.

  • Start Early – We have all seen people running around the mall on December 24th, desperately seeking inspiration for presents for their spouses. They give off the fearful stench of gift failure. Retailers can smell that fear and will take full retail price advantage of it. Don’t be that person. Plan far in advance.No, we mean really far in advance. Think throughout the year about what will make a good Christmas gift. The more time you have to identify the perfect gift, the more time you have to find it on sale or at a special discount.
  • Make a Budget – The evil corollary to last minute buying is impulse gift buying. Set a budget for your gifts and you are less likely to overspend, or get into Christmas “mission-creep” – buying multiple gifts that you had not intended on buying.
  • Give Presents After Christmas – Consider exchanging small token gifts on Christmas Day, and save your money for the inevitable after-Christmas and New-Years Day sales. Retailers can be desperate if holiday sales fall short of expectations, allowing you to save massive amounts of money on bigger ticket items. The money you save on that flat screen TV or expensive outfit is well worth the wait. You could present the family with a homemade gift certificate good for an HDTV, then take them shopping to buy it after the holiday.
  • Make Your Own Presents – This is not just for kids. Can you knit a sweater? Can you build a table? Labors of love can save money and be more meaningful to the recipient than a more expensive store-bought analogue.
  • Shop OnlineOnline shopping can often yield better results than brick-and-mortar stores, especially if you monitor for discount codes and free shipping offers. Many retailers offer discounts that are only available through following their social media profiles or by registering on their websites.Consider using other sites and apps to support you in your search. For example, the Hukkster app allows you to browse catalogs to find items that you like, and set up e-mail alerts to notify you when a sale price or discount meets your criteria.

    Sure, it is exhilarating to wait in line at the big box store in the Black Friday freezing rain and engage in pre-dawn hand-to-hand combat with your fellow Christmas shoppers, but that is just a money-saving sacrifice you will have to make.

    Again, the earlier you start, the more likely it is that you will successfully find deals

  • Save on Wrapping – Wrapping paper is not terribly expensive but it is wasteful, and every little bit of savings helps. Invest in a variety of gift bags of different sizes that you can re-use every year.
  • Save a Tree – Christmas trees are getting more expensive each year, and can be a headache to maintain and dispose of. Consider a simple artificial tree that you can re-use each year. If you do enjoy the family tradition of choosing and decorating a traditional Christmas tree, you may want to scale it to a smaller tree to save money – or a small living tree that you can plant after the holidays are over.

With these tips, you may be able to enjoy your holiday with some extra cash in your pocket. Take a few days off, and then you can start your planning for next Christmas. Did we mention that it is important to start early?

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