Shopping in December doesn't tend to evoke the merriment that holiday songs sing of. The stress and cost of buying don't exactly make it feel like the most wonderful time of the year. But it shouldn't have to be this way.
Change the way you shop! Instead of diving head-first into the usual madness, come up with a plan. Use your intellect to conquer the chaos and expenses of gift-giving. With these helpful tips, you'll make the season bright, despite all the spending.
Before you make any moves, you'll need to figure out how much you want to spend this holiday season. Set a budget and stick to it. Once you establish your finances, break things down per person on your gift list. Then, really hold yourself to that number. Do the same for parties, events, and gatherings.
Know what's out there and what you're getting into. See what your budget allows, then figure out what gifts would work best for your Nice List folks. Research the items and learn how their values compare to competitors'. Be wise about it; having a functioning understanding of what you'll be buying will give you the most bang for your buck.
Map out a battle plan, but don't wait until the last minute. Smart shoppers get started early and know how to save time and money. Instead of letting your bank account take a direct hit, chart out ways to buy throughout the year.
Organization and pre-planning are key to streamlining your effort. Instead of adding stress and confusion, take it easy and shop at your convenience. You're likely to find good or even better deals throughout the year instead of during the specific season that's geared toward luring customers.
If you're out with your friends during the craze of the holiday shopping season, the frenzy will hit you and you're more likely to impulse-buy. With all the hustle, noise, and distractions, you won't be able to think straight. Don't get caught up in the rush: put yourself in a smart position instead. Take an off-peak day alone here and there to leisurely buy those wish list items. Shopping solo on a Tuesday in September will yield better budget-minded results than whipping through the mall with your pals on a Saturday in December.
Of course, forgoing the brick-and-mortar stores is always a wise move. Aside from saving money on gas, you'll cut back on wasted time and effort, which leads to a less stressful experience.
Again, do your research and figure out what'll work best. Then just keep an eye on shipping costs and delivery dates. You're much likely to get packages on time earlier in the year versus ordering a week before the big day.
And if you're focused on buying local — good on you, by the way — you can still skip a lot of the shops. Many locations have robust online stores and pick-up options that give you the best of both worlds.
Online sales are only the beginning of what technology brings to the table for holiday shopping. There are a number of resources available to help you cut costs.
Product trackers are easy to use and show you the ebb and flow of an item's price. Cyber coupons provide a paperless way to find some of the best deals. Price-checking apps let you scan barcodes in stores and compare prices elsewhere. Rewards programs earn you bonuses and additional savings on your purchases.
Keep your self-control in check, and don't get carried away with offers that sound too good to be true. Spur-of-the-moment decisions can end up costing you more in the long run. It's best to stick to your original battle plan.
Promotions are designed to hook your attention in an attempt to get you to buy unanticipated items. The purpose of a business is to earn a profit, so bear in mind that they're relying on you to make this happen. A good deal doesn't necessarily gain them much money, but your impulse buying does.
Spending $20 on a simple item that will stand the test of time makes more sense than spending the same amount on fleeting and flashy items that will break or be forgotten by New Year's Day. Look at it this way: you value the recipient, and their gift should reflect this sentiment.
This isn't only limited to purchases. Quality and value come into play with homemade presents, too. A hand-dipped candle, cookie tray, knitted scarf, or woodcarving demonstrates an incredible amount of love. These same items bought cheaply in a busy box store lack such thought and care. Keep in mind, though, that even if it's homemade, it should be something the recipient wants. If they don't like wood decor, don't make them a woodcarving, unless you're ok with them donating it to a thrift store in February.
Everyone on your holiday list is different, but that doesn't mean you have to get them all something unique. Many folks share interests, so it's perfectly fine to purchase the same present for two or more people, especially if the item's a great deal. It's a smart and efficient shopping move that will save you money, time, and effort.
If the prospect of seasonal gift-giving still makes you cringe, try something else. Instead of dealing with the hassle of shopping, wrapping, storing, and transporting stuff, provide someone with an experience. With only a few clicks of a button, you can effortlessly give concert tickets, day trips, or bigger adventures. Make a special meal for them or take them somewhere fun. No matter what you do, it's bound to make lasting memories.