Saving Money on Your Christmas Gift Shopping
‘Tis the season to give gifts! Most people have big hearts and are givers. They love to bring a smile to others by handing them a gift. They give to their coworkers, their bosses, their friends, family and often, even to complete strangers.
Giving is one of the reasons that the Christmas holidays can be one of the cheeriest times of the year. There’s just a different spirit in the air. But that natural desire to give can have some not-so-fun consequences if you love to give – but your budget doesn’t support that.
While you might enjoy bringing some holiday cheer to the mailman and the paper delivery person, on a budget, there isn’t room for everyone. So you have to be choosy. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up giving. You just have to be reasonable with your giving and you’ll end up saving money this year.
Create a Christmas Gift Budget and Stick to It
You really do need to set some gift giving boundaries. You can’t give to everyone and still be financially responsible. So what you need to do is to look over your finances and set the absolute final amount that you can afford to use for gift giving.
Once you have that amount set, you need to decide who you’re going to buy for. Decide this year that it’s okay not to try to impress the people that are not part of your inner circle.
We all do that. We give gifts we can’t really afford to people that aren’t really a major part of our lives. And don’t let yourself fall into the trap of guilt-giving. You know that trap.
Someone gives you a gift, so you feel obligated to rush out and give them one in return. Don’t do that. List those who really matter to you. For most of us, that’s going to be family.
It’s going to be our parents and in-laws. It’s going to be our children, our siblings and our closest friends. Now you may have a huge circle of people in your life that entails cousins of cousins of cousins. Keep your list short and sweet and put the people on that list that you can’t imagine life without.
Set a price limit per gift for each person on your list. Even if that person has Saks Fifth Avenue taste and you have a Sears budget, stick to your price limit. For some people, it really is about the cost of the gift, but don’t make that your financial burden. You can say “I’m thinking about you” with a thirty dollar gift just as well as you can with a three hundred dollar gift.
You can also save money by giving couples’ gifts. This is one gift that you give to a couple of people, such as a television to your parents or a new gaming system to all of the kids.
Where many go wrong with a Christmas budget is with children. We love to give to kids – our own kids, our siblings’ kids, our friends’ kids. We buy in great quantity – and that’s something else that can blow the budget.
Not only do we need to set a price limit per person on our list, but we also need to set a limit on how many gifts we’re going to give. That means per person as well as total.
If you can afford to buy forty gifts, but you have three children and want to give them each five gifts, that only leaves twenty-five gifts that you can give away. By sticking to your Christmas budget, you’ll be able to enjoy both the holidays and the days after – because you won’t be stressed about bills coming in that are going to squeeze you financially for many more months.
Shop Early and Save Money
Procrastination is not your friend any time of the year – but especially during the Christmas holidays. You only have to look at how full the mall parking lot is on Christmas Eve to become a believer with that.
The last few days leading up to Christmas become a madhouse in every store in the nation. Roads get gridlocked from last minute shoppers and there’s not much ‘goodwill to men’ in the air at all.
Studies have shown that shopping early can reduce stress and help people feel relaxed and better able to enjoy the holidays. As the days draw closer and closer to Christmas Day, the people who didn’t shop early become more and more anxious and pushy to find gifts for their families.
Their stress levels rise and they end up acting out of character with shorter tempers. You don’t want to be a part of that madhouse – it will suck the Christmas joy right out of you.
Instead, you want to start months ahead with your holiday shopping. Besides avoiding the people on top of people crowds, the reason that you want to get started now is because you save money.
If you’ve watched the way that stores do their pricing, days before a big holiday, the prices on the items you want always go up. That’s because the stores are hoping to cash in on the desperation of the shoppers who did procrastinate.
It’s a terrible thing to witness adults scrambling for the same toy and arguing over it if there’s only one left on the shelf. Right now, the stores don’t have the prices raised on the items you want for the people on your gift list.
That’s because many people don’t shop early. So you can take advantage of lower pricing. Not only do you get better prices on the items that you want to find, but you’re able to actually find them, too.
There’s nothing more stressful than knowing your little child wants a certain toy for Christmas – and maybe even asked Santa for it – and that toy has sold out. So make your list, check it twice and start shopping!
Shop Online and Save
If you don’t normally shop online, you are missing out on one of the best shopping experiences you can ever have. When the holidays approach, stores start to get really busy.
Parking is sparse and the people are plenty. People are packed into stores like sardines, sharing germs – but not much else. It can cause you to wonder what on Earth happens to people during the holidays.
By shopping online, you can avoid being squished into crowds, unable to freely move down the store aisles. You also won’t have to wait in line for a long time. Shopping online lets you travel from store to store without ever leaving your computer or mobile device.
You can move your mouse or with a flick of your finger jump from store to store. When you’re at one store at the mall, you don’t have any idea what the same product sells for at another store in the mall, but with online shopping, you can see that in the blink of an eye.
You get to compare prices from hundreds of stores to get the best deal – which of course, helps you stick with your budget. You can compare the prices of these products, but not only that, you get to see all of the features that the product offers and you get to read more in-depth information about it.
On a lot of sites, there will be product reviews and you can go and read those reviews to see if that’s the best model or if there’s one that you would like better. A lot of times, people will leave comments in review sections and these comments are going to be an honest opinion based on people who have actually purchased the product.
They’re going to talk about the good and the bad of the item or they may sing the praises of the item. You’ll be able to make a more informed decision and buy a better product while avoiding the ones that wouldn’t last past Christmas night.
The items that you find when you’re online shopping are more often than not cheaper than what you can find at stores because there’s less overhead for online retailers to sell goods over the Internet.
There are also sites that will offer you discount shopping codes in addition to free shipping and other savings. Because online shopping sites can bring you items at a better deal than a store can, they can afford to let you in on some of those savings.
Not only do you get the item cheaper, but you can get it shipped to you at not extra cost. A lot of these places have a free shipping policy if you’ll spend a certain amount of money.
So you get what you want, you save money and you get the items brought right to you. No hassle – no crowds. The convenience of the shopping time is another reason you want to shop online.
If you have to get off work after putting in 8 hours at a 9 to 5 job and head straight to the store to shop, you’re going to be tired and hungry and not feeling very festive.
With online shopping, you can go home, have a relaxing dinner, spend some time with family or friends and then curl up in your favorite chair and shop. You can shop in the middle of the night if that’s your schedule – because online stores never close.
Shop Black Friday Deals
Black Friday is the day that comes after Thanksgiving. The term Black Friday came about because businesses hope to make a lot of profit that will put their company ‘in the black’ (made money) rather than ‘in the red’ – which means the business lost more money than it actually made.
These businesses will begin to whet the appetites of shoppers for their wares by placing ads in newspapers, in television ads and on radio commercials. The items that you’ll find on Black Friday are being offered at their absolute lowest prices for the year and after the day is over, the price will return to its pre-sale cost.
So you can save a lot of money on your gift buying if you do it on that Friday. Just like the starter gun signifies the beginning of the race for runners, this is the day that many people get serious about shopping for the stuff they have on their Christmas list.
Many offline stores will close early on Thanksgiving in order to prepare for this one day event. It’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re going to shop at offline stores, you need to be prepared before you go.
The competition will be fierce and there won’t be enough of the product to go around because the demand is overwhelming. People looking for bargains will flock to stores several hours before the Black Friday deals are open to the customers.
You’ll find crowds standing out in the dark, in the rain or in the snow waiting for the doors to open. Not only do these people want to get those bargain prices, but they also want to take advantage of the doorbuster sales.
These are items that you can only get if you’re actually in the store. You can’t order them from the store’s online shopping center. But now many online stores are having their own doorbusters that in-store people can’t get!
You can find exceptional deals, but you need to weigh the cost of the deals with how long you have to stand in line before the store opens and how long you have to wait in line once you have the items that you need.
Online shopping sites will also offer consumers Black Friday deals. You’ll see them advertise on their sites for days in advance. With the online deals, you can see the sales in every department listed by categories.
What some shoppers are unaware of with online shopping on Black Friday is that many online stores will allow shoppers to shop for deals earlier than offline stores will.
You can find the same deals offered by Black Friday offline stores at online stores on Thanksgiving. There will still be the free shipping at most of the sites as well as coupon codes and discounts that will drive the price even lower.
Many of these online stores will honor the same price on goods that you would find if you went to their offline site, but they won’t honor the doorbuster items.
Some separate sites also have a master list of online stores that are offering great deals on Black Friday and you can register with your email to get notified where the Black Friday deals are going to take place.
Consider Cyber Monday Shopping
Realizing that many people prefer to do their shopping online and would not take part in Black Friday no matter how low the prices were, retailers decided to come up with a way to get the business of these online shoppers, too.
So they began dropping prices the Monday after Black Friday. Cyber Monday is always on the Monday that rolls around right after Black Friday. This is the day that online shopping sites have claimed as their answer to the deals that people could find with offline shopping.
On this day, shopping sites all over the Internet will place items for sale that customers can buy for their lowest prices online. On this day, there are deals that can’t be purchased in the offline stores, but must be bought online only.
Some savvy shoppers will head to the offline stores on Friday but hit the online stores on Monday so that they get the best of both kinds of savings. Many online stores offer Cyber Monday deals in which you get free shipping when free shipping isn’t normally part of their policy. Or they’ll offer free engraving on certain items.
While most stores keep their upcoming Cyber Monday deals under tight wraps to keep the public from finding out what’s going to be on sale, you can look at past sales for the same day.
Amazon had the Kindle Fire on sale, lowering the price from $159 to $129. Since the Kindle was a big seller, this made a lot of consumers pretty happy. Electronics are always on the top ten list of things consumers purchase as Christmas gifts and the deals for televisions were astonishing.
There was a savings of over $500 on a Panasonic 55-inch LED. The 40 inch Samsung dropped $752. Computers, laptops and theater systems were also offered up at prices that customers just couldn’t pass up.
Little items also went on sale, too. There was a huge selection of popular movies, Blue-ray among them, that went down to $10 from their original prices of $14.96 and $19.96.
You can make sure that you take advantage of all of the shopping deals by getting email alerts to on and offline stores that are having sales. Look for stores that will give you free shipping so that you’ll add to your savings.
Search for percentage discounts and coupons before you shop and you’ll be able to buy for everyone on your list without going over your budget.