Holiday shopping sprees can often soar into the thousands of dollars, which leave many paying for gifts well into the New Year.

You do not have to break the bank for a successful holiday shopping experience, but you do need to plan ahead. Before you even start shopping, follow these simple steps:

  • Make a list of all the people on your holiday list. Review the list and cross off those you do not have to buy a gift for.
  • Decide how much you can afford to spend on all your holiday shopping.
  • Write down how much you would like to spend on each person. Add up all the gift amounts and make sure it is within the total amount you have allotted to spend.
  • Go to the bank and withdraw that amount of money (plus $20 for things such as lunch, coffee, parking, etc.). Leave your credit/debit/ATM cards at home!

Using the following tips can help those on a tight budget save money this holiday season:

  • Make it. Unique gifts can be offered by simply putting together a few key items. Have a favorite recipe? Gather the dry ingredients and put them into a decorative basket along with the recipe instructions.
  • Create a coupon book. This works best for family and close friends. Each coupon can be redeemed for a special favor or treat. From a massage for a spouse to extra television time for a child, the possibilities are endless.
  • Shop the discount stores. Think before doing your holiday shopping at the major retailers. Consider shopping discount outlets for the majority of your purchases.
  • Trim down the list. It’s easy for shopping lists to become bloated. Remember, not everyone expects or even needs a personal gift.
  • Get creative. You may not need to shop at all. Throw a party and have everyone bring a dish. Think of what will have meaning for your family and provide life-long memories.
  • Save on wrapping. Wrapping paper, bows and gift bags are expensive. Get creative with ways to package presents.
  • Go virtual. Send e-cards instead of paper cards to as many people as possible to save on cards, envelopes and stamps.
  • Buy early. Shop throughout the year and keep an eye out for cost-saving specials. Stocking up all year long can help your wallet during the holidays.
  • Buy late. Stores often discount items in the few days before a holiday.

It’s often easy to forget the true meaning of the holiday season. Gift-giving should be fun, not something that you are paying off for months.

Source: SupportLinc EAP