Buy a few too many gifts for yourself on Black Friday and Cyber Monday instead of gifts for those on your list? You’re not alone, the frenzy of sales can often make purchasing needed everyday items and even big-ticket items at deep discounts very appealing. Before you know it, you’re out a large chunk of change and still have others to buy for. Fear not, there’s still plenty of time, sales, and ways to get something special for friends and loved ones while also sticking to a budget. Here are just a few tips we’ve gathered to help keep you on track this Holiday season and beyond:
SET A BUDGET
Between blowout sales and end of year clear-outs, there are plenty of ways to save money this holiday season, but if you’re not careful, things can quickly get out of hand. Plan out your housing and personal expenses over the next month. Rack your mind to detail everything you’ll need to buy this month. Parties, travel expenses, dinner parties, and last minute buys are all tiny expenditures that are easy to forget about, so do your best to anticipate these purchases.
You can also figure out ways to cut down on these costs. Organize a potluck so you don’t need to bear the brunt of a costly holiday dinner. Go shopping in a friend’s closet for the formal wear needed for a Christmas party. Once you’ve taken into account cost of living and random holiday expenditures, you’ll have a clear picture of your gift giving budget. Keep this budget in a place you can track it, be that a day planner, spreadsheet, or even a budgeting app like Daily Budget. Lastly, decide whether you plan to use cash or incorporate credit—remember it can be easy to go overboard with plastic, you don’t want to be paying for the holidays well into the New Year. Dealing in cash or setting up an account with precisely the amount needed for holiday gifts can go a long way to tacking what you’re spending.
MAKE A LIST
Now that you’ve established just how much money you have to spend on gifts, make a list of exactly who you will be buying for. If you already have gifts in mind for certain people, write down the associated cost and work back with the remaining budget to set a dollar amount for the rest of list. Looking at the list, figure out ways to save where you can. Perhaps part of your large holiday gift list includes extended family or a group of friends spread across the country. Why not suggest a Secret Santa, Yankee Swap, or Traveling Gift Box to cut down on the number of gifts?
Of course, things under the tree aren’t what matter this time of year. Trade stuff for experiences and go in on a trip, outing, or fancy dinner to spend some quality time with family and friends—sans wrapping paper. You can also collectively save on these outings by checking out couponing sites like Groupon for discounts.
DO IT YOURSELF
It can be hard to justify spending your already stretched budget on gifts for teachers, acquaintances, and distant cousins that you hardly know. Even close friends and family can be hard to buy for, and you’d hate to purchase something they may never use. Save some money and give from the heart with something made by your own two hands. Coming off the fall harvest season, it’s the perfect time to give out your homemade pickles, remaining jars of canned jams and jellies, or even something decadent like salted caramel sauce. Your recipients will love receiving something homemade you can’t find in stores. No one will give you side-eye for gifting a tasty treat like a tin of cookies, squares, bark, or candied nuts. Dress these items in thoughtful packaging like jars, tins, gift boxes, ribbons and such that can be purchased cheaply to add a little flair to homemade gifts.
Of course, homemade gifts don’t have to come from the kitchen. Hand poured candles, a custom wood burned cutting board or hand ornaments are all great options for low budget gift giving. And, spa-like soaking salts, soaps, and bath bombs can all easily be made by even the most novice crafter with a quick Pinterest search.
Cyber Monday may have left you fearing the keyboard, but online is really the place to be if you’re looking for deals this holiday season. Consult your list and start an account with the online retailers offering the gifts you need to receive daily updates on any sales or offers that happen between now and the end of December. A Google search for hot holiday best sellers will help you see who is selling the items and where to find it for less. This will also give you leverage at retailers like Walmart that price match. Plug-in desktop apps like Honey can help generate coupon codes for any online store, while phone apps like Flipp can help you locate coupons and rebates for many large retailers.
One thing that stops a lot of people from relying on online shopping during the holiday season is shipping costs and time. Luckily, many online retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Macy’s, and Barnes & Noble offer last-minute free shipping starting mid-December. The best part? Many of these retailers also offer guaranteed, expedited delivery before the 20th, taking the anxiety out of last-minute online purchases.
Last minute doesn’t need to be limiting, as long as you’re a savvy shopper with a plan, you can cross everyone off your list without breaking the bank. Should your holiday expenses include travel, be sure to checkout InTown Suites extended stay accommodations. With 189 location in 22 states and seasonal Stow & Go rates, you’ll save all season long where ever you go!