It’s Black Friday. Have you been braving the crowds in hopes of saving a few bucks? Or did you stay home (or go to work) instead? Either way, I wanted to share some tips for getting through the holiday shopping season without emptying your savings account or running up a huge credit card bill.
- Make a list and check it twice. For starters, you need to sit down and create a list of all the people that you’ll be shopping for this year. That way there won’t be any nasty surprises when you’ve spent your budget and then realize your forgot crazy Uncle Bob.
- Set a budget. Next, you’ll need to come up with a budget. I recommend setting a firm overall budget along with a target amount for each recipient. Remember… There’s nothing worse than waking up to monstrous credit card bill that you can’t pay once the holiday have passed.
- Make adjustments. If you’ve done the above and have discovered that your desired budget is more than you can comfortably afford, you’ll need to adjust. Either scale it back, cut costs in other areas of your life, or find a way to earn some extra money.
- Consider drawing names. Another possibility is to consider drawing names rather than having everyone buy gifts for everyone else. The initial conversation may be awkward, but trust me… In the long run, it will work out just fine. You might also consider setting a spending limit to avoid awkward situations in which one person spends far more than another.
- Check prices online. I’ve gotten in the habit of not only checking prices online before I go, but also in the aisles of the store using my smartphone. The Amazon app (or something like RedLaser) is your best friend when it comes to comparison shopping. In addition to checking prices, I’ve found that skimming customer reviews on the fly is a great way of preventing buyer’s remorse.
- Get a discount. If you do wind up shopping online, be sure to look for promo or coupon codes (just do a quick Google search or hit a site like RetailMeNot) before you check out. And consider shopping through an online mall to get extra cash back.
- Use a reward credit card. Speaking of getting cash back, be sure to use a cash back credit card.
- Make it yourself. Another great option is to give a thoughtful, homemade gift. Many times, such gifts are not only less expensive than their store-bought brethren, but they are also more appreciated by the recipient.
If you have any holiday shopping tips of your own, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. Happy Black Friday!