It’s easy to overspend for the holidays. You want to make sure you get the best gifts for the best people in your life. You might even spot a few good deals for yourself while you’re out shopping, and pretty soon, you’ve spent way more than you intended. There are a few ways to make sure you still get great gifts without going overboard. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
We’ve Got You Covered: GOBankingRates’ Smart Holiday Spending Guide
Prepare: Shipping, Wrapping & More Extras To Account For in Your Holiday Budget
Take a Realistic Look at Your Finances
Before you start looking at holiday deals, look at your income and determine what you feel comfortable spending on gifts this year. According to financial advisors, you shouldn’t be spending more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on holiday gifts. Make sure this figure works for your budget. If you think you might be able to swing a higher budget, great! Don’t be afraid to scale down, though. Holiday gifts should not bankrupt you. Spend what genuinely works for you and your financial needs.
Make a List of Recipients
If you go shopping without a list, you’re bound to blindly pick up a few items without knowing exactly what to do with them or who to give them to. Making a list of who you’re shopping for and a few ideas of what would make a good gift for that person will help keep you focused while you’re in stores. Perhaps you only get gifts for your immediate family and a few close friends. Make them a priority and stick to only getting presents for those people. Even if you see something that’d be perfect for someone else, remember that you’ve only set aside enough money for the people most important to you. If you feel bad about leaving some people out, you can make baked goods, homemade gifts or send personal cards to those who you aren’t buying a present for.
Decide on an Amount and Stick to It
Once you know how much you can spend, decide that it’s the absolute most amount of money you can devote to presents. One method to stick to your budget is to get that exact amount in cash so you know exactly how much you have at all times while you’re out shopping. If you want to shop online, keep a spreadsheet with exactly how much you’re spending for each gift. You could take it a step further and assign spending ranges for each person on your list. As long as you’re keeping a close eye on exactly how much you’re spending and how much you have left, you should be able to stick to your budget without a problem.
Look for Coupons and Cash Back Deals
There are plenty of deals waiting for you on coupon sites and easily installable browser extensions and apps. CapitalOne Shopping, for instance, offers lots of coupon codes you can use for top brands like Fossil, Keurig and MAC. Get instant access by installing the Google Chrome extension, so anytime you’re shopping online, CapitalOne Shopping lets you know if there’s a coupon code you can use to get a lower price. The extension also alerts you when items you’ve been looking at go on sale to make sure you’re always getting access to the best prices.
Brad’s Deals is a website you can check to see a plethora of handpicked sales going on. It also offers the option to have the site alert you when sales are happening on your favorite brands. Rakuten is a browser extension that enables you to get cash back when you shop at certain brands. Once you create a Rakuten account, you can connect your PayPal account and collect cash every time you shop at brands like Sephora, Kohl’s and Macy’s. Rakuten also gives you access to coupon codes while you’re shopping online.
Don’t Fall for Retail Tricks
During the holidays, stores try to do whatever they can to get you to spend more money. If you’re adding stuff to your online shopping cart just to reach free shipping you’re falling for one of their many tricks! Most of the time, simply paying for the shipping is less money than whatever you threw in at the last minute.
Be wary of sales, too. Although sales might say “up to 70 percent off,” this means maybe only one item in the entire store is 70 percent off, while the rest are only 15.
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