The season of spending is running in high gear and you may already be fretting over that holiday budget. If you've taken the time to put together your gift list and you're ready to start your holiday shopping rounds, make sure you're maximizing your dollars every step of the way. Retailers are rolling out dozens of deals and discounts this season, and some are even giving you a gift in return for your business. The National Retail Federation reports that six in 10 holiday shoppers are planning to take advantage of sales and discounts to make non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this holiday season.
Use these six tips to stretch your holiday budget to the max this year:
1. Make a list and check it twice. One of the best things you can do to stick with your budget this season is to keep a running list of gifts you need to buy and their average price range. Cross off each item as its purchase and make sure you've accounted for everyone. When you end up paying much less than you planned for a particular item, write down the savings so you can allocate it towards other purchases.
2. Don't let every sale seduce you. While some sales are worth taking advantage of, others are just bait to get you in the store and don't end up being a good deal on a quality item. Be skeptical about sales that sound too good to be true, especially if you've never heard the name of the brand before. Shop for specific items instead of waiting for ads and flyers to prompt a purchase.
3. Look for free shipping offers. Don't pay extra to ship gifts to the recipient when you can make your purchase online and have it shipped for free. Scope out the online version of your favorite store to see what types of free shipping offers are available - and save that $10 to $20+ in shipping costs per item.
4. Give yourself time to decide. It's too easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy - and then end up spending too much - so give yourself some time to comparison shop and make some rational decisions about each purchase. Go online to compare prices so you're really getting the best deals.
5. Commit to spending cash. Make a conscientious effort to only take a specific amount of cash on that holiday shopping trip. Carrying credit cards can make you give in to temptation when you discover a new sale or simply are in the mood to spend. You're likely to make better decisions with your money when you only spend cash.
6. Take advantage of free gift wrapping services. Some department stores and boutiques will wrap your gifts for you at no extra charge. Many online retailers are also offering free gift wrapping on certain purchases. Remember that the cost of wrapping and presenting your gift is part of the cost of the item, so save yourself the extra $5 to $10 per gift by having items professionally gift-wrapped.
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