The economic downturn that began in late 2008 forced many holiday shoppers to curb their spending on gifts for friends and family. But even though the economy has since recovered, savvy holiday shoppers are still taking a conservative approach to their shopping, and saving lots of money along the way.
Shoppers often struggle with how much to spend on gifts for their loved ones come the holiday season. The quest for the perfect gift leads many to overspend, but there are ways holiday shoppers can give great gifts without breaking the bank.
* Leave credit cards at home. Stretching a budget when holiday shopping can be tempting, especially when shoppers come across "can't miss" gifts they know their loved ones will treasure. Succumbing to such temptation typically finds holiday shoppers using their credit cards to make purchases they otherwise cannot afford, and that only lands shoppers in post-holiday debt that can be difficult to pay off. Leaving credit cards at home when shopping for the holidays significantly reduces the likelihood that shoppers will overspend, and it guarantees they won't be mired in debt come January.
* Whittle down your shopping list. Many holiday shoppers find themselves in financial hot water come the end of the holiday season thanks in large part to seemingly endless holiday shopping lists. Lists may include coworkers, distant cousins, neighbors, and a host of other acquaintances. Whittling down holiday shopping lists can save shoppers money. Contact loose acquaintances and distant relatives to suggest you stop exchanging gifts come the holidays, saving both parties time and money.
* Make a list of gifts. Blindly shopping for holiday gifts can prove disastrous to your finances. Before heading out on a holiday shopping trip, make a list of gifts you intend to buy for each person on your list. This can help you focus your search and reduce the likelihood that you will make potentially costly impulse purchases as you wander around the mall for hours on end.
* Avoid last-minute shopping. Last-minute shopping may unearth some great deals, but it's far more likely to back shoppers into corners as they race against time to complete their holiday shopping. When shopping is put off until the last minute, shoppers don't have time to comparison shop and find better deals, and that can quickly turn a holiday budget upside down. Begin your holiday shopping as early as possible, and take advantage of holiday sales.
* Spread out your shopping. Holiday shoppers with especially long shopping lists can spread out their shopping over several months to reduce the likelihood that they will accumulate credit card debt or run out of cash during the holiday season. Begin shopping in late summer or early fall, periodically buying gifts for loved ones when you have the cash to do so. This has the added benefit of freeing up time during the often hectic holiday season, and it greatly reduces the risk of compiling post-holiday debt.
Many people stretch their budgets during the holiday season. But savvy holiday shoppers can employ several strategies to keep themselves out of debt this holiday season.