Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year…the holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start shopping. We feel good when our friends, family members and other loved ones open gifts that we’ve given them and they’re happy because it’s just what they wanted. In these tough economic times, that can sometimes strain our wallets, but there is a way for us to buy nice gifts without breaking the bank.
Here are some ideas:
1) Sit down, make a list of those receiving gifts, and determine how much you want to spend this holiday season. Add this in to your budget and stick to that amount.
2) Prepare for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. This is the day that makes it worthwhile to get up in the pre-dawn hours, dress in your sweatsuits and athletic shoes, and camp out in front of the stores, coffee mugs in hand. Check out the circulars in the newspapers in the days leading up to Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Day if you live in an area where a newspaper is published daily). Some malls will open at midnight, but other stores will open in the pre-dawn hours. Check out blackfriday.com for more information. You can have up-to-date information sent to you from the website by providing your e-mail address. There are specials listed on that site for the big retailers such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target, plus many more.
3) For those who intend to do their bargain shopping online, check out cybermonday.com. Cyber Monday is the name given to the Monday after Thanksgiving, and is the online equivalent of Black Friday. So many deals are advertised on the site, featuring over 700 online retailers, including free shipping (for some retailers), in addition to the already discounted merchandise.
4) Buy used. According to an article by Steve Thompson on Yahoo! Finance, you can save by buying some items that were previously owned, like books and some computer software (not an operating system, but like computer games). I personally recommend you try searching on eBay for such items. If you don’t already have an eBay account, it only takes minutes to create one, and the site is very user-friendly. You can also check your local Yellow Pages for bookstores that sell used books.
5) In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with gift cards and e-cards. Gift cards are usually sold in any amount and so they’re perfect if money is tight, and you don’t have to buy giftwrap or bows. The recipient can then buy whatever he or she likes from that store. E-cards are nice because you can send holiday wishes to many with just a click of a mouse, and while some are free, the cost of having a membership to Yahoo! Greetings is about the same as the cost of two boxes of greeting cards, but it’s good for the entire year.
So if you stick to your budget, make the most of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, buy used, and take advantage of gift cards and e-cards, you can have a great shopping experience without wrecking your wallet and starting your New Year in the poorhouse. Happy shopping, everyone!