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Shopping for the Holidays Without Blowing Your Savings

Holiday Shopping Gifts

The average gift-giving individual spends about $804 on gifts for family, friends and pets during the holiday shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation. For those on a fixed income, the annual holiday shopping extravaganza can be hard to budget. Start planning now, though, and there’s no reason you can’t buy for everyone on your list without blowing out your savings.

Set a Budget

First things first, write out a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for and how much you anticipate to spend on that person. Add everything up and make tweaks if the total is more than you can afford this year. Once your budget is set, log every purchase to avoid spending more than you planned.

Avoid Impulse Buys

Once you’ve found that perfect gift, cross the recipient off your list and stop shopping for them””even if you spot something they’d love on your way to pay for another gift. And always resist the urge to pick up items for yourself as you shop for the holidays.

Get Crafty

Making gifts is a less expensive alternative to buying them. Love to knit? Handmade scarves or mittens are welcome gifts every winter. A few other easy DIY gift ideas include jarred mixes for a favorite baked good, painted picture frames or decorated bookmarks.

Embrace the Re-gift

While the etiquette surrounding re-gifting is complicated (bottom line, never re-gift an item unless you’re absolutely sure the recipient didn’t give it to you!), gifting items you already have on hand can be a big money-saver. Take stock of your home for never-opened items that someone else could appreciate, like scented candles or dishtowels. Alternatively, unused gift cards could be passed along or used to purchase something special for someone else on your list.

Resist the Lure of Free Shipping

Online retailers make it easy to over-spend by promising free shipping for spending over X dollar amount. Be sure to do the math and make sure the shipping cost is more than the total of the items added to get that free shipping””and think about whether you would’ve bought the extra items anyway. To avoid this issue altogether, seek out retailers that allow for ship-to-store to save on shipping costs.

Don’t Give, Gather

Don’t forget the most important part of the holidays is celebrating family and friendships. Rather than buying presents for each close friend, consider inviting the group over for a potluck gathering or cookie exchange. The memories will outlast any gift you could buy.