Nov 16, 2010

10 Tips for Smarter Holiday Shopping and Gifting

I haven't started my Christmas shopping this year.  It is one of those times of the year that is expensive, yet exhilarating. We all have our own tips for surviving and saving money.  This year is going to be more difficult than most because my husband is off right now, non-paid, because of another ankle surgery.  The following are all tips that I have used in the years past.  I hope that they will help you.

1- Get the Thanksgiving Newspaper  Even if you do not get any other newspaper, be sure to get the Thanksgiving Edition.  Why?  The Thanksgiving Edition is where you will find the Black Friday Ads.  You will also find the KMart Thanksgiving Ad.  I start my shopping on Thanksgiving because that is when KMart starts their great deals.
2- Shop the day after Christmas deals You will find some great clearance deals after Christmas. That is when I get my holiday wrapping paper, gift tags, gift bags, tape, etc.  You will save at least 50%.  I have about 4 packages of wrapping paper saved for this years Christmas wrapping.  You may also find some great deals on toys for next year. All of the extra toys I bought for last year were used for Birthday presents.  Think ahead to save money.
3- Set a budget I know that I will spend between $10-$15 per niece and nephew.  I spend between $150 and $200 on my son.  Think about it... does your child still play with all the toys you bought them last year?  I know my son hasn't even played with all the toys he received last year, so I don't feel bad about not breaking the bank getting him a lot of toys.  The years I didn't set a budget were not good years because I was stressed about how much I had spent.
4- Talk to your extended family.  My parents, brothers and sisters are all grown.  The youngest of my siblings is 28 now.  Do they really need a lot of presents?  Since becoming adults, we have all picked one name out of a hat and spent $20 on that person.  Everyone in my family gets each niece and nephew a present. My husband's family only buys for the children.  No one is offended, it is just the way things are done in our two families.  Before the talk, people were always having their feelings hurt.
5- Try to save the Gift Certificates you get/win What a better way to buy presents for someone else than to spend the gift certificates you have won or received as a gift.  Sometimes, there are even great deals on buying gift certificates.  Of course, to maximize the Gift Certificates, wait until Black Friday to use them. 
6- Shop around  Do you REALLY want the 42" flat screen TV?  Well, you will have many options now to buy it at $150+ off.  At least that is what I have seen through the Black Friday ad leaks.  Shop around.  Don't waste money.  Try to wait until you can get the best deal.
7- You need to eat, right?  The Holidays are also a great time to buy food at cheap prices.  Yes, I am a cheapo.  Right now, you can get turkeys for less than $0.50 per pound.  Freeze the turkey!  You can also get great deals on other food.
8- Be careful Several years ago, there was a brutal mugging in my small town of less than 15000 people.  After that mugging, the police warned the residents to leave your cash at home or locked in your car, out of sight.  Get the amount of cash you plan to spend at each store out before getting out of your car or bring your credit card.  At least if you get mugged, you won't be giving the mugger all your identification.  It is safer to give the mugger what he/she wants than to risk getting hurt.
9- Don't be afraid to return your item if you find a better deal  Many stores allow you to return the item and get the difference between the higher and lower price.  Don't be embarrassed to save money.  I never knew that was possible until my Mom started doing it.  Stores would rather have great customer service than to have a customer feel like they were getting ripped off.
10- Keep your receipts  In this day and age, there are still stores that will not let you return things without a receipt.  They may also return the money at the lowest priced sale if you don't have the receipt.  Keep all of your receipts in the same place.

Now, wish me luck on Black Friday.  I am one of those people who will go to the store and try to get the deals.  I hope to be done shopping by Cyber Monday.  I hope the tips above will help at least one of my readers.  If you found a tip that helped you, will you tweet or share the link with one of your friends?  Do you have a tip for me?  I would love to see what it is in the comments below.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

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