The National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey revealed that people plan to spend an average of $804.42 on gifts for Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in 2014. That’s an increase of nearly 5 percent from last year. Many of us joke about the credit card debt we’ll rack up during the holidays, but saving money without sacrificing our gift giving style is both important and possible.
Prepare a holiday spending budget. Leaving the house without a budget is the first misstep many people make during the holiday shopping season.How much can you afford to spend throughout the holidays without touching your credit cards? If you must use your credit cards, will you be able to pay the balance before you’re charged interest? Consider your current financial situation and prepare a budget that takes into account purchasing gifts, holiday party food and greeting cards and postage. Lost when it comes to budgeting? Check out our Budgeting Basics guide.
Categorize your gift giving. If you purchased expensive gifts for all of your family, friends and co-workers, you would easily go beyond your budget. Prepare a list of your close friends and family, and another list for acquaintances and co-workers. Your gift-giving budget can stretch a bit for people who are the closest to you, while more general, less expensive gifts can be for those not within your intimate circle. You can even decide on group gifts for the workplace, such as a collection of stocking stuffers like stress toys and colorful office supplies.
Forget Black Friday. Anyone who works in retail would tell you that a dirty little secret of Black Friday shopping is that the event does not provide the best deals compared to other sales throughout the year or even during the holiday season. Instead, shop on Cyber Monday to avoid the crowds and ensure that the item is available. Also, look for deals throughout the weeks following Black Friday. Stores need to turnover products in preparation for new stock for the post-holiday season and will begin deeply discounting items to make room.
Research before you shop. Some sales are better than others. DealNews provides a handy list of the best items to purchase in each month of the year. In November, you’ll find the best sales on TVs, laptops, cookware and candy while toys will be at their highest prices with fake markdowns. December is a great time to purchase toys, tools and gift cards. Check reviews of the products you want to buy and set Google alerts for when those items go on sale.
This holiday season does not need to burn a hole in your wallet. By following a few guidelines, you can save money during the most wonderful time of the year and still bring smiles to the faces you cherish.