Holiday Shopping On The Cheap
I know it may seem early to think about holiday shopping, but I usually start my holiday shopping early – like way early. I sometimes buy a holiday gift for someone in February and hold on to it until the holidays. I buy gifts for the same people every year so it isn’t hard buy gifts for them early, I just have to remember what I bought and where I stored it.
I have a list in my planner where I keep gift ideas and things I’ve purchased so that I can keep track of my early holiday gifts. I prefer to buy gifts throughout the year so I don’t ding our budget all at once and so that I can get things that I know my loved ones will like at a discount versus buying them something just because it is cheap.
If you are looking for ways to save money on holiday gifts, here are some of my best budget tips.
Budget Tips for Holiday Shopping
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- Always be on the lookout. I know what gifts my kids would like and what my husband, parents, nieces and in-laws would like so whenever I’m out, I keep an eye out for gifts. For example, I was at Marshall’s several months ago and they had a Star Wars Light Saber multi-blade kit for $14.99. My oldest loves Star Wars so I bought it and it has been sitting in my closet for months. Ironically, a few weeks ago, he saw one at Toys R Us and wanted to buy it but I told him he shouldn’t spend his money on it. He is going to be so excited when he gets it at Christmas!
- Always have your holiday list ready. Like I said, I have a list of the people I buy for and sizes (for the kids in particular) in my planner and on my phone. That way, I always know what I’m looking for when I’m out. If I see something I think they’ll like, I buy it immediately, rather than waiting for December.
- Shop sales. Even if you didn’t start your holiday shopping early, all is not lost. Pretty much every store has regular sales so it is highly unlikely that you won’t find something fabulous at a discount.
- Take advantage of discounts. In addition to sales, make the most of discounts. For example, Kohl’s offers Kohl’s cash fairly regularly so shop there when they have a Kohl’s cash deal and then you can use the cash for other holiday gifts. The same goes for stores like Carter’s and Old Navy. You just have to know when they have sales.
- Sign up for store emails. Now, this only will work if you don’t go crazy shopping every time you get an email, but signing up for store emails is a great way to know when they have sales. If you don’t want to clutter your regular email, set up a free Google Gmail account and check it regularly. Don’t forget websites like Hautelook, RueLaLa and Gilt Group. Don’t forget to shop through eBates.com if you’re shopping online. You get cash back on your purchases!
- Go outside your normal stores. Don’t just shop at regular mall stores. Check out sites like Amazon for their daily deals, sign up for sites like Groupon and Living Social and frequent stores like Marshall’s, Ross Dress For Less and TJ Maxx. I just bought myself a beautiful Max Studio zip up cashmere sweater from Marshall’s for $40. That was a steal!
- Keep track of what you’re buying. One year, I started my shopping really early and forgot to add things I bought to my list. So, I kept buying more stuff. Then I had to buy more stuff because I wanted to make sure my sons’ gifts were even. I bought way more than was necessary because I was disorganized.
- Don’t buy just to buy. The nice thing about starting your holiday shopping early is that you will buy gifts your loved ones actually want, instead of just randomly buying stuff because you’re running out of time and need to get them something.
- Consider experience gifts instead of physical gifts. This worked really well when my kids were younger and I think it will start working again when they are a bit older. Rather than buying a bunch of random things that just add clutter, buy a really fantastic experience gift. My brother and I split a museum membership for my mom. It actually ends up costing less than I would have spent on something nice and my mom loves it. I have a friend who did a no gift holiday for her family and instead, they went on a cruise for Christmas. Her kids did not miss the lack of gifts at all!
- Set your budget. This is more critical if you didn’t start your holiday shopping early. The nice thing about starting your shopping early is that you spread the expense out over a few months, rather than spending all at once. The last thing you want to still be paying for Christmas the following May. If you don’t want to shop early, you can still prepare early buy purchasing a gift card every month to be used on holiday shopping. I’ve read about people who buy gift cards every month to be used for the holidays. It is a great way to spread out the expense without shopping all year long.
Do you have budget-friendly holiday shopping tips? I’d love to hear them!