I’m actually spending a little more on Christmas this year, but apparently I’m in the minority.
According to a Bankrate survey, 74% of people plan to spend the same as or less than last year for their holiday shopping. Twenty two percent of those are determined to spend less than they did previously.
Well, 28% of people planning to spend less said they’re focused on saving money. Followed closely by 27% who are concerned about their finances and/or the economy. Twenty six percent don’t have as much money as last year. And 22% say they’re focused on paying back debt.
All heartening reasons to spend less.
Horrifyingly, both figures would put average holiday spending at more than $1,000. Eep!
Of course, I have just one person to shop for this year: my mom. I guess if you have two or three kids plus two spouses buying for each other… Well, that’s still a lot of money per person, but it makes a little more sense.
So how can you keep your holiday spending sane?
Set (and stick to) a budget
Sure, it seems obvious; but it’s easy to get carried away. I was tempted to get Mom one extra thing during a Cyber Monday sale. But I was only partially sure she could use it, and it would’ve been an additional $30. So I restrained myself.
Still, I’m doing much better financially this year than I have been in years past, so it was hard to curb that impulse. And I’m a relatively frugal bastard! So I can only imagine how hard it is for people who aren’t all that naturally frugal — especially if they’re buying for multiple loved ones, especially kids.
So you’ve got to be firm in your resolve to stick to a predetermined amount (hopefully, under $1,000).
Don’t go crazy with stocking stuffers, obviously, but two great go-to sources for them are Target and Joann’s. Each one has a set of dollar bins where you can find all sorts of doodads that will probably delight small kids.
You might also find some good stuff at the dollar store: coloring books, crayons, makeup and nail polish for cosmetic-obsessed teens, etc. As for actual toys, there are plenty, but pay close attention to quality, since some of that stuff looks like it’ll fall apart after a week.
If you hustle hard — answer a lot of surveys or fulfill some offers — there’s still time to get enough SB for at least one $25 e-gift card somewhere. Or hustle moderately and still get a $10 GC. If nothing else, a $10 GC would be a great stocking stuffer!
I know some people think gift cards aren’t good presents, but I disagree. GCs give the recipient options and ensure that your money (or SB) go toward something they’ll really like/use.
If you’re not already a member of Swagbucks, now’s the time to join! You’ll get 300 SB just for signing up.
Discounted gift cards
Either as gifts or to buy gifts, discounted gift card sites like Raise and CardCash are great! Plenty of the gift cards are electronic, so you can buy, print and go shopping at a moment’s notice.
These are also a great way to generate a little spending dough, if you have some of your own GCs sitting around unused. Sell them there for some quick cash!
Cash back shop
If you’re going to buy things online anyway, you might as well get some money back, right?
Cash back shopping is simple: Rather than go directly to a store’s website, you go to the cash back site and click the store link there. Then complete your purchase like normal. A few days later, a rebate should appear in your account.
The sites have more than 2,000 stores on them, so there’s a good chance that you can get cash back at whatever store you’re buying from. Bonus: The sites offer plenty of coupons, so you might find extra savings!
Personally, I prefer Mr. Rebates as its rates tend to be higher, but Rakuten.com (nee Ebates) does sometimes have specials that give it better percentages. So join both and be sure to rate compare before shopping.
Save those savings!
Remember: It isn’t saving until you’ve saved it.
All those great deals you get on presents you’d buy anyway? Don’t forget to put those savings into a savings account or make a payment against your debt — anything to ensure that the savings don’t disappear into general spending.
How’s your holiday shopping going? Find any great deals?