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How to Christmas Shop on a Budget

by Savanna Kiefer

Holidays, Save Money

Christmas is coming quicker than you can say “Santa’s reindeer” and we’re sure you’re already sweating about how you’re going to do all your holiday gift shopping without breaking the bank. If you’re a little behind schedule and haven’t been shopping throughout the year, don’t worry - there are still ways to save money (and your sanity) and avoid getting sucked in to the cash-taking vortex (otherwise known as a shopping center). 

 Here are our top five tips to Christmas shop on a budget!

Limit Yourself

The holiday season is such a fun time to spoil all of the special people in your life, but it can also make a huge impact on your bank account! Before you make your list and check it twice, think hard about who you want to buy gifts for and how you can show your appreciation for them without spending a fortune. If you know that a friend or family member would appreciate a handwritten card or letter more than a purchased gift, take that as a reason to save some money. It’s okay to be frugal with who you buy gifts for during the holidays too. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t spoil your mom’s cousin’s nephew with a gift if you haven’t even heard from them this year, and don’t feel obligated to buy something for the whole office if it’s simply out of your price range. Homemade gifts can be just as exciting to receive as a purchased gift from the store and they will cost you very little.


Make a List

Just like Santa himself, you need to make a list and check it twice. Write down how much money you can spend on gifts this season. Be realistic with that number and stick to it. After writing down your overall budget, make a list of all the people you’re buying gifts for and how much of that budget you want to allot each person. If your kiddos have made a list of all the awesome toys they want this year, take a look at the prices of each toy and highlight which ones you can realistically afford. Whatever you’re planning on buying this year, keep in mind that a budget shouldn’t be flexible. Your budget is there for a reason so you absolutely need to stay under it.


Shop Sales

Thankfully many retail brands will offer massive sales during the months of November and December in preparation for Christmas Day. Do your research online and start writing down which stores will be offering big sales on items that you’ll be buying. Some discount websites like Overstock have a great selection of gifts that are on sale and you can easily filter out gifts that are over your budget. Shopping sales can save you lots of money if you’re buying big ticket items like gaming systems, laptops, or any other electronic devices. Look for shipping discounts, rebates, and site-wide savings that can put some cash back in your pockets.


Shop Second Hand

If you’re buying a gift for someone who likes antique or vintage items, you can score huge deals by buying at second-hand stores. If your niece collects old records, see if you can find a few of her favorite bands at a local vintage shop or even online. Brand new items typically have a huge retail markup, so if the gift you’re looking for can be bought pre-used, there’s no reason to pay markup prices. Outlet malls are also great alternatives to buying used goods. Tons of retail stores send their products from last season’s collection to outlet malls all over the nation. You can find amazing deals on clothes and home goods at these malls.


Avoid Impulse Buys

You know those cute little gifts that you see near the checkout counter? They only cost $5 so why not throw it in your basket, right? Wrong! Don’t fall for these marketing tricks. If it’s not on your list and you don’t absolutely need it, don’t buy anything on impulse. Five dollars here and there can add up to $25 really quickly and if you think about it, you could be spending that money on a great gift, not something cheap from the dollar aisle. If you see a great deal on something in a store, that’s still not a good enough reason to buy it. Stick to your shopping list and place any items you like but don’t need on your wish list!

If you stick to these simple rules, you can easily stay on track with your Christmas budget and get enough gifts for the whole family - even without having an army of elves to help you! Budgeting during the holidays doesn’t have to be scary. If you get hold of a financial plan for all of your gift-buying needs, you won’t be hurting for cash during the new year! After all, who needs to be worrying about money when a new year starts? Start that fresh chapter without your bank account being in the red.

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