First Person: 5 Top Tips for Saving Money on Holiday Gifts

Great Gifts on the Cheap

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First Person: 5 Top Tips for Saving Money on Holiday Gifts
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Purchasing a gift with a rewards credit card.

The holidays typically bring higher expenses, especially with holiday gifting. This can be a challenge for small business owners, like me who must limit expenses. Therefore, even when shopping for friends and family, I do so wisely and use creativity for all my gift giving. Follow along as I share my money saving tips.

Be creative and make the gift.

A gift is exceptionally special when the giver is certain the same gift can't be found in stores. This is possible when the gift is handmade, like gift baskets, treats and framed family pictures. Often, I pile baskets full of items I know the person will enjoy.

For example, my adult daughter loves chocolate milk, so I fill a decorative jar I purchased for fifty cents at a thrift store with homemade cocoa and sugar mix--total cost $2.50. Since she also enjoys peppermint bark candy, I make it at a cost of $4.50 for a batch large enough to share with others. To finish her basket, I add a few other homemade treats and a framed picture of her and her little ones I took at her aunt's wedding. Of course, the gift was a hit.

Shop the discount racks.

Why pay retail? I rarely do. When I must purchase something new, I gravitate toward the discount racks of stores or websites that offer discounted goods. Many times goods are discounted when a newer version is released, when the packaging changes or when it is seasonal. I have found hoodies for $5 and toddler dresses for $3; all brand new.

Holiday sales are a perfect opportunity to grab the best deal as well. Both of my children are working parents with little time to cook. Last year, to help them save time in the kitchen, I was able to snag two of the best crock-pots on the market for $12 each.

Discounted gift certificates are an excellent bargain!

As a subscriber to newspapers and airline mile programs, I receive email notifications each day about discounted gift certificates available in my area. For example, I can purchase a gift certificate for a local restaurant for half the face value of the card. I pay $25 and my best friend receives a $50 dinner. Gotta love those deals!

Coupons are more than just slips of paper these days.

With the many coupon directory websites on the Internet these days, finding a great deal on a perfect gift is easy. Within seconds, I found $5 off coupons for Jelly Belly and Mrs. Field and 33 % off photo gifts. The grand daddy of all was a Groupon deal for a cooking class discounted from $160 to $49.

Buy from thrifts and dollar stores.

Some of my best gifts have been from thrift stores. I've found brand new books, purses, unique dishes and gently used clothing. Some even sell my favorite-boxed candy at a steep discount. Dollar stores are the perfect place to find gift-wrap and cards. The cost is always one dollar; what a deal!

Use reward point credit cards and double dip on savings.

When I surf the Internet for gifts, the first place I hit is my credit card rewards page. There I find all the merchants who offer deals to reward card members. I've found 20 to 60 % off particular items; plus when I pay with my credit card, I receive more reward points. For example, my favorite deal of the day is 20 % off small appliances at Bed Bath and Beyond. Double-dip savings feels great this time of year.

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