by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
There’s no doubt we spend a lot of money at Christmas time. As a matter of fact, a quarter of all personal spending in the United States is done during the holiday season. As families grow so does the gift list and our Christmas budget can get out of hand. But, there are ways to save and cut back on your gift giving without looking like a scrooge.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts. We should be celebrating the real meaning of the season. Right? Well, that’s a hard sell at times to children but with creative planning coupled with imagination, your gifts will be appreciated and you can avoid going into holiday debt.
Celebrate Christmas all year long especially where buying gifts is concerned. Make a gift list early in the year and when you do your everyday shopping you’re sure to stumble onto the perfect gift for someone on your list.
It may even be on sale or on special. Two for one clearance deals can double your shopping fun. Huge savings can be found right after Christmas so constantly be on the lookout. No last minute shopping for you.
Scan sales flyers and clip coupons. You probably already do this but this year keep gift giving in mind too. Try to use coupons in combination with sale prices and save even more. Sign up for department stores newsletters through the mail or online to keep on top of sales. Newsletters many times include special offers and discounts.
Shop the Internet. Here you can compare prices not only online but how they compare with your local stores. Usually, when you buy online you don’t pay sales tax and many times shipping is free. The gas savings is another plus.
Carpool with a friend when you’re going shopping. This not only saves fuel but you can exchange ideas on what to give and where to go. Make gift buying fun instead of a obligatory chore. Don’t forget to shop the Dollar Stores and the 99 Cent Stores. No one has to know what you spent on the gift.
Yard and garage sales are great places to find that perfect treasure for a fraction of the cost. And, many items are new, in their original package and unopened. But, the item doesn’t have to be new. With a little clean up and fix up it can look new. Or, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find an antique that just needs a coat of polish.
Regifting is a practice that’s gaining in popularity. Yes, many people do it and you can too. No need leaving that gift you received years ago in the closet gathering dust. Dust it off, gift wrap it, give it to someone who can use it and you save.
If you have frequent flyer miles that are going to waste give them as a gift. Who wouldn’t enjoy a free plane ride? Most mileage plans can also betraded for merchandise or even cash. Don’t let them expire even if you have to give them away.
Many large families nowadays draw names to keep holiday expenses in line. Some only give gifts to the children or exchange cards. Of course, personal, obviously well thought out gifts are always most appreciated. Enjoy the holiday season but stay within your budget. It will be a happier new year if it starts debt free.