Holiday shopping can be exciting as well as a time to show your loved ones how special you think they are. Thankfully, holiday shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. With these quick tips, you can make sure that your bank account is smiling right alongside your friends and family this holiday season.
Set Your Budget
The first step toward mastering holiday shopping on a budget is establishing your budget. One of the most common mistakes that people make before they holiday shop is thinking only in the short term. To determine your budget, decide how much money you can comfortably spend on gifts without putting yourself in a bind for the months that follow. Ideally, you should save most of your estimated budget in advance to help accommodate the extra expenses. If you do not have savings to use for holiday shopping, the steps below can still help you spread cheer throughout the giving season.
Pay with Cash
Before you start spending, it can be a good idea to withdraw cash. Mint.com recommends using cash for holiday purchases because paying with paper money makes you think twice about big, tempting buys.
Divide Your Budget by the Number of Gifts You Plan to Buy
For whomever you decide to buy gifts for this year, it’s a good idea to split your budget evenly among recipients. This has two purposes: First, it makes you aware of the price range into which each gift should fit, which helps you to target your shopping; second, if there is someone you intend to splurge on, it helps you understand where to find wiggle room elsewhere.
Get a Thrifty Start
Now that you have a budget in mind and a price range for each gift, it’s time to see how much money you can save on holiday shopping. For a fast start, skip the big-box stores (you can get there later) and head right to the thrift shop. Full of one-of-a-kind, creative gifts that are sure to leave a lasting impression, thrift shops often can be found in even the smallest town. At a thrift shop you may happen upon interesting children’s books, fun vintage clothing and even unique furniture. Better yet, there is usually an opportunity to negotiate the price.
Take it Home
Once you’ve picked up a few items from a thrift shop, return home to regroup and update your budget and shopping list. While at home, take a moment to leverage the power of social media – Pinterest for example, is loaded with inexpensive, how-to ideas for refreshing vintage furniture or packaging a stack of thrift-shop book finds.
Spend Small at the Big Box
Searching for holiday deals at larger retailers can be an exciting part of holiday shopping. Pro shopping tip: Most major retailers have easily accessible online coupons or sales during the holidays. Often, bringing a promotion code or snapshot of the sale flyer with you on your smartphone can get you the same deal in-house. It’s a great way to make your budget stretch even further.
Now that you’re freshly armed with a budget, thrift-store gifts and a few new toys, you’re ready to take the other tips and tackle the rest of you holiday season shopping.