Shop Smarter: 8 Tips For Successful Holiday Shopping

If you’re like most people, holiday shopping is inevitable. Make the most of it with these eight tips.

1. Make a gift-giving budget–and stick to it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and give beyond your means. This situation, though arrived at with the best of intentions, is something to avoid. Fortunately, with a little forethought, you can create a reasonable budget that will leave your loved ones with thoughtful gifts and you with more money in the bank.

2. Know what you’re spending.
Sticking to a budget is more than looking at a total number–it means knowing when you are spending your money and what you are spending it on. It can be very helpful to keep a running tally of the amount you’ve spent on gifts.

3. Never pay full price.
With so many holiday sales and discounts, you should be able to get some great savings off of the retail price for most items. Keep an eye on store ads, online specials, and other discounts.

4. Look around town… and online.
Comparison shopping is your friend this season. Before making big purchases, check around at competitor’s stores and see if they have a better offer. If not, ask them about any discounts that may be available to you. And don’t forget to check online. There are tons of price comparison websites out there–a quick look online could save you significantly.

5. Don’t forget about yourself.
Shopping shouldn’t be insanely stressful or traumatizing. Lessen the blow with a special treat for yourself from time to time. Remember that you deserve to celebrate in your own way–a little gift here and there can lend endurance to your holiday shopping sprees.

6. Start early.
If you wait until December to start your shopping, you’ve waited too long. Starting early not only gives you the opportunity to get the very best price on items when they’re on sale, it also spreads the spending over the course of several months (and paychecks) rather than hitting you all at once.

7. Make it homemade.
If you’re strapped for cash, baking or craftiness can be your saving grace. A batch of your famous cinnamon scones or a hand-knitted scarf will mean a lot to whoever receives them. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to give great gifts.

8. Save someone money.
Gift cards are great for the hard-to-shop-for. They’re also great for anyone strapped for cash. Anyone can use gift cards for gas stations or gift cards to all-purpose grocery stores.

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