Save money -- and your sanity -- with the following tips:
Don't be fooled by fliers.
Comparison shop, but remember that traveling to stores on different sides of town to buy items that seem less expensive might not be once you factor in the cost of gas and your time. Whichever route you choose, stick to your list!
Schedule your shopping.
Stores are less crowded early or late in the day and early in the week. Avoid weekend mall madness by saving one of your vacation days to use for holiday shopping on a Tuesday, and save yourself hours of searching for a parking space and waiting on line at the cash register.
Choose reliable retailers who stand behind what they sell and check return/exchange policies before buying. Shopping early in the season will afford the best selection, and shopping later in the season may result in savings as prices are reduced, but keep return timelines in mind.
Cash is king.
Always pay with cash instead of a credit card. If you must use credit, do not charge more than you can completely pay off in one to two months. Interest charges add up quickly and will completely kill your budget. Those interest payments would be better invested in your retirement account!
Make returns easy.
Ask for a gift receipt. Carry an envelope with you to store receipts as you shop. Enclose the gift receipt with the gift so your recipient can exchange the item if it does not suit her.
It's the thought that counts.
Remember that a gift need not be expensive to be well-liked. Small but thoughtful gifts often are more appreciated and oftentimes more valuable than a gift found in any store, Young said. Think creatively: a recipe book filled with favorite family meal plans or a photo album of your friendship through the years are inexpensive yet meaningful gifts.
Plan ahead for next year.
If you can, shop post-holiday sales for bargain prices on wrapping paper, holiday cards and decorations. Prices drop by 50 percent or more starting the day after Christmas. Store them in a cool, dry place until next holiday season.
For more information on managing money successfully, shoppers can contact their local K-State Research and Extension office or check the K-State financial management Web site: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/financialmanagement/.
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