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Prepare Your Holiday Shopping Budget With These Handy Tips

The holiday season is just around the corner and it is that time of the year again where you have to start planning the gifts you will be giving out to those who are near and dear to your heart. The holidays are filled with emotion and we tend to have the overwhelming desire to shower our loved ones with the best gifts possible. However, in doing so we often run the risk of spending more than we can afford.
The coronavirus pandemic has put a great financial strain on countless families this year and budgets are undoubtedly tighter. It is hence of paramount importance to plan carefully how much you spend this year. We have come up with a few nifty money-saving tips that should make your online holiday shopping experience smoother. Take a look. 

1. Set up a holiday budget and a list

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, holiday budget and a list
If you wish to keep your spending on a tight leash this holiday season, the first step should be to make a budget. This may sound cliché, but it’s essential and so very useful. Determining how much money you can afford to spend on all of your holiday purchases before shopping will help you keep from overspending. While a lot of us buy things on credit this season, you shouldn’t be spending an amount you won’t be able to pay back fully in the next three months. For example, your holiday shopping budget shouldn’t exceed more than $1,500 if you have $500 remaining at the end of the month with you (apart from your savings) after clearing your other essential expenses.
Once you know how much you can afford to spend, the next thing you must do is create a list of gift recipients and allotting the maximum amount you intend to spend on each gift. The focus should be on how much you can spend on each individual on the list and not on what you can buy. If you find that the list is too long for your budget, go through it properly again and adjust the names or spending amount.

2. Take advantage of online shopping

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, online shopping
This season, it would be in your best interest to embrace online shopping. Firstly, it's best to avoid the risk of going to a shopping mall and crowded places which as we know, are fraught with risk right now. Moreover, online shopping allows you to be more focused – you know what you want and are more likely to stick to your list.
At a shopping mall, though, you might end up buying more things than you need. With more people veering towards online shopping this year, malls and retail stores are likely to offer big discounts on all their products this holiday season and you might be lured to grab things you don’t even need, thereby unnecessarily exceeding your budget. 

3. Look for BNPL options

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, buy now, pay later
The economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the popularity of buy now, pay later (BNPL) options since more consumers are now relying on e-commerce. These BNPL options allow consumers to make purchases and then pay in interest-free installments, generally over a few weeks or months.
As the holiday season draws near, a bunch of BNPL options will certainly pop up. Just keep an eye out for them and look for the best ones to suit your interest. For instance, many popular companies have announced BNPL services recently where customers can pay for a purchase in four interest-free installments. These buy now, pay later options can be a great money-saving tool when used with caution, especially during the holiday season.
To know more about the pros and cons of BNPL, read our article on Buy Now Pay Later services.

4. Opt for a layaway plan

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, layaway plan
If you have a limited budget this year to spend on holiday gifts, then opting for a layaway plan may not be a bad idea. With layaway, you make payments over time, but your purchases remain in the store until you finish paying for them. You have to make sure, however, that you plan for this a good few weeks before the holiday season begins so that you don't miss out on the item you want on time.  
You will have to pay a little fee for acquiring the layaway plan but even with that, you won’t be charged interest on your purchases. Moreover, layaway comes in real handy during the busy holiday season when in-demand gadgets and toys can be sold out real quick. Once you put a popular item on layaway, you will be guaranteed to have it by the holidays. 
Layaway also provides another method to pay for purchases over time. So, if you don’t want to use your credit card for all the holiday gifts, then layaway may be the best option for you.

5. Download coupon apps

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, coupon apps
Back in the day, clipping physical coupons from newspapers, flyers, and catalogs was a great way to save money on the things you buy every day. Those have now been replaced with coupon apps which make it convenient for you to find, save, and use digital coupon codes at physical retail stores. Ibotta, Rakuten, Honey, Dosh, and Drop are some of the best free coupon apps available on iOS and Android platforms. Before the holiday season, most of these apps are likely to offer an additional bonus that will come in real handy.
Using the coupon you can save money on your holiday shopping and track products on which you really want a discounted price. Sometimes, coupons for a specific product can be used to purchase from any online store as well. Moreover, many coupons give a wholesale price to customers who buy in bulk. Since the wholesale prices are lower and you are likely to buy items in bulk during the holiday season, you have all the more reason to use coupons now.

6. Buy things in fours

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, gifts
When it comes to holiday shopping for your immediate family, one good tip that might be useful is to buy things in four for each person. You can make it simple and break it down to something they wished for, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. This will give you a clear idea of how to plan the shopping for the individual and also ensure they are satisfied with the gifts. Most importantly, following this trick will also make sure that you don’t end up overbuying stuff and going past your budget. 

7. Go for homemade gifts 

Money-Saving for Holiday Season, homemade gifts 
A homemade gift can be a pleasant surprise for the right person. They are also typically more affordable than traditional gifts. If you feel your budget is a little tight this year, you can go for some neat DIY gifts for your immediate family and close friends. They are sure to value the thought and effort you put into the gifts. That being said, the homemade gifts don’t need to look cheap or amateur. 
You can bake something nice for your recipients if you have an interest in baking. Otherwise, a really cute care package with winter favorites like hot chocolate, marshmallows, and candy canes will also look nice. Another idea is to create little ornaments, crafted from vintage family photos which will make for a memorable and affordable gift.
Our article on 15 Creative Ideas for Making Homemade Gifts can further help you out with ideas. 

8. Host a used gift exchange

Money-Saving for Holiday Season,  gift exchange
It’s not always mandatory to buy expensive gifts for your loved ones during the holiday season. You can even host a used gift exchange party with a few selected members. This will not just be a fun way to spend some time before the festivities begin, it will also help save you some money.
All of us have some unused gift or some other item lying around in the house that can become a great gift for someone else. It can be a bowl of China, a book that wasn’t to your liking, or some scented candle or essential oil set that you will never use. Bear in mind, however, that the gifts should be thoughtful and must have been gently used. For instance, a book with a missing cover or a candle with cracks on it won’t look good as a gift. 
Also, this gift exchange party should only include people who are very close to you and would appreciate the thought behind such an activity.

Share these tips with others who are planning their holiday shopping!

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