Figuring out a Christmas present budget is not easy. There are always changes to gift lists, some fabulous sale you couldn't pass up, or a surprise present from someone you were not planning on exchanging gifts with. This year we set our budget for $700, and we ended up spending a little less that that. Shockingly, we are spending under what the average person is planning to spend this holiday season. In a survey done by the American Research Group, they found that Americans were spending approximately $854, which is up an astounding 32% from last year. This is how we were able to stay under budget and under the national average this holiday season.
Abide by pricing guidelines
After making a detailed list on the amount we wanted to spend on people this year, we came up with the $700 number. We were spending $100 a piece on the children, $30 for each in-law present, $50 on my husband's step-brothers and step-sisters, and $30 on the rest of the kids in the family. We tried to stick under budget, and most of the time we were able either meet the price or be shy of it by a few dollars.
I am the price-matching queen! I look through every ad that comes in the mail and inside the local papers. It has helped me a lot this season, especially with toys. I was able to snag an art desk for a young girl for 50% off the originally price by bringing in a competitor's ad. It was a $20 savings and put me under budget for two of the children we have to buy for this season.
Dollar store shopping
Included in our budget is the wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, and cards we have to purchase. This year I decided to hit the various dollar stores we have in the area and collect all my wrapping goodies there. I was able to save a bunch of money, and walk away with more than I would have anywhere else.
I am quite content with the shopping my husband and I did this year. We spent about 25% less than what the average American is planning to spend, but we were able to buy for everyone. Spending is up 32% overall, and we definitely noticed that in our pocketbook as well. This Christmas season we spent under $700 and were able to save a few dollars in the process.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.More from this contributor First Person: 3 Shopping Tactics That Saved Me $67 on Christmas Gifts