Most every family I know has been affected by the state of the economy. I know that we all seem to feel the “pull” on the purse strings this time of year, with wanting to give something special to everyone on our list for the holidays- but we don’t always have the means to do so.
Have a plan. Make a list. If it’s a budget you have, or a list of items, have it with you so you can follow it- and stick to it. Stores KNOW we are weak, and they market to our weaknesses…all of those adorable little holiday themed anythings at the end of aisles, and taunting us while we wait for our turn to check out…all of those little things add up fast. That extra $20 or so you throw in for the adorable or fun factor would serve you a lot better to splurge for a babysitter for an hour, or to put towards a vacation fund. Make that list, check it twice (Santa even checks it twice) and stick to it! If you find something that you really think is marvelous, think about it for a while, don’t just purchase it.
Check for sales- I know this seems like a no-brainer- but I was just this morning set to head out and get that one last item on my gift list and did a quick google search for it. Guess what was $11 cheaper on Amazon.com than I’d have paid in store- AND I won’t have to pay shipping – or gas to drive to the store for. Not everything will be less online but it definitely pay off to look around a bit if you can.
Take advantage of Price Matching- SO many stores are price matching identical items that competitors are selling. What does this mean for us? Well, if you bring that circular to the store (or circulars, for multiple items), you’ll probably take a bit longer at checkout, but you’re also eliminating the need for stopping at multiple stores…and the temptation of add-on items near registers at the other stores you won’t be shopping in. I’m the guiltiest person of add-on items- I see it and think “that would be so cute for their stockings!” and voila, I’ve got that item times THREE in my cart….none of which I’d planned to purchase. (Which is really a lead in for my next tip:)
Stick to your list. You have a list of ideas or simply a budget to stick to- so stick to it. Those add-ons and impulse buys ADD UP FAST and it really, really pays to stop and think before buying. Do my kids need more chapsticks? No, they do not. No matter how cute all of the 3pack sets are in cute candy and character flavors. But adding 3 3-packs to my cart means adding $4.99+ 6% tax TIMES THREE to my spending, and when you look at it that way, the chapstick we have here at home already will do just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Ultimately, there really isn’t a gift worth going into debt for. Plan ahead for holiday shopping if you can. Even a few dollars a week all year adds up. In a pinch, H&R Block’s Emerald Advance could come in handy- but I encourage you to stick to your budget even if you DO use the program!
You can learn all about H&R Block Emerald Advance, including the application process and where to find a retailer near your home.
· Starting November 19th, apply to get up to $1000 cash in time for the holidays
· All you need to apply is a valid photo ID and your most recent pay stub (no W2 form required!)
· You don’t already need to be an H&R Block client to apply
One reader will win a $300 Mastercard Gift Card!
To Enter: Leave a comment telling me how you shop for holiday gifts- are you a planner? Do you have a strict budget?
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This giveaway will end on December 19th, 2012 at 11:59pm EST.
· H&R Block provided me with the $300 gift card to give away. The prize was provided and may be shipped to the winner by H&R Block, but H&R Block is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of H&R Block. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. Winner to be chosen at random.