Holidays can be one of the most wonderful and expensive times of the year. Americans are expected to spend $1,455 on this year’s holiday shopping, according to Deloitte’s latest study. Despite a looming recession, Americans on tighter budgets are still eager to enjoy some of their holiday traditions, including holiday shopping. While holiday gift shopping is a tradition, you don’t have to break the bank. You can make it through the holidays with your budget and sanity intact with the right planning. Here are 8 ways to cut down on your holiday spending without becoming a cheapskate.
Create and stick to a budget
According to the National Retail Federation, American families spend an average of $648 on holiday gifts alone. And that doesn’t include $350 decorations and other items that aren’t gift-related. But just because it’s average doesn’t mean you should spend much. So how should you budget?
Creating a gift budget may seem like a no-brainer, but during the busy holiday season, it’s easy to let something like this slip through the cracks. Without a budget, you will almost certainly overspend, so make it a priority this year. Determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts. Make a list of each person you want to give a gift to and how much you plan to spend on each of them. Add up the totals. Do the two numbers match? If so, great – your gift-giving budget is under control! But if your desires are bigger than your wallet, you need to get creative and cut back on spending for some people.
Shop sales and shop early
This should go without saying, but try to find your gift when it’s on sale. If you’re saving money throughout the year, you can take advantage of sales throughout the year, not just Black Friday.
Also, it’s never too early to shop. It takes some advance planning, but you can save a lot of money by keeping an eye out for promotions throughout the year. One strategy is to start looking for sales in the spring and then buy one or two items throughout the year (this also helps spread out your holiday spending). Then put away your gifts for the holidays.
Buy with cash
Paying in cash saves more money than paying by credit card. Maybe this strategy worked because you saw the dollars in your wallet disappear immediately. But it can also help you avoid racking up credit card debt (and the interest charges that come with it). Another tip is to carry large bills with you so you’re less likely to break them on an impulse purchase.
Do something special for someone special
If you want to give something personal, memorable, and one-of-a-kind, go for it! Take it seriously. Pinterest has tons of ideas and instructions. Try knitting a hat for your family or baking cookies for a co-worker. Get your kids involved in creativity! Grandkids’ hand-made glittery decorations are probably Grandma’s favorite gift. Remember, a gift from the heart — kindness, care, quality time, etc. — can go a long way toward your loved ones. Nothing says the holiday’s best wishes like something homemade.
Shop through cashback sites
One way to save money on holiday gifts is to use cash-back sites when shopping online. These sites link to the websites of many major retailers.
How does it work? You can click on links from sites like Rakuten and shop as usual. These sites receive commissions from retailers and, in turn, share a portion of the commission with you in the form of cashback.
Usually, you will get 1 to 5 percent of the purchase price back, but sometimes you get 10 or 20 percent back. Moreover, it can be combined with credit card rewards you earn.
Use coupon extensions
If you don’t want to collect and carry coupons while shopping, there are digital coupon sites and extensions for that. Using them to get coupon codes is effective. Search for retailers you want to shop for on a coupon site, such as CouponBirds, so you can easily get coupons from merchants. You can also use apps from retailers like Michaels or Walgreens to get coupons.
Be flexible with what you buy
Inflation is a bad thing, but there can also be a bright side: Because everyone is spending more on big-ticket necessities and travel, they’re buying less on other types of products. The result: excess inventory for retailers – and potentially cheap holiday gifts. Unless your loved one specifically wants your gift, consider buying items that may be on sales, such as electronics and clothing. The best deals are likely to be on casual wear (which has lost some of its appeals since people returned to the office) and seasonal items such as holiday-themed items and winter gear – after supply chain problems delayed some shipments after last holiday season
Use your old gift cards
The average American has $175 in unspent gift cards, vouchers, and store credits to see if you can use your cards to buy gifts, especially if those gift cards are in places you don’t normally visit. They can be the perfect way to fill your holiday budget and get a gift that’s essentially free.
Holiday gifts can be a precious memory for your families and friends. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to buy unique and costly items to make them happy. Setting a budget and sticking to it, buying discounted products, or making it by yourself can not only save you money but also make you enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.
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