Make a gift list that includes everyone for whom you need to buy. Then, split your allocated holiday shopping budget among all the recipients. Once you have decided how much to spend and what to buy, stick to your list as much as possible. If you overspend in one area, be sure to adjust elsewhere so that you don't go over budget.
Use the Internet to compare prices and read product reviews before you make any purchases online or at retail stores. The extra research will help you save money not just on the gifts, but also on gas.
Sign up to receive emails from your favorite stores to be notified of sales and specials ahead of time. Also, follow retailers on Facebook and Twitter, where you often can get discounts that you can't find anywhere else.
Instead of getting individual presents for your cousin, her husband and their three kids, buy a family gift. It's more practical, and it fosters valuable family time. Consider board games, electronics, movies, food items and home decor.
If you're a wiz in the kitchen or can sew up a storm, consider giving homemade gifts rather than store-bought items. You'll save money and enjoy doing something you love. Encourage your children to make handmade gifts for family and friends as well.
During the holidays, we often stress out over the obligation to exchange gifts with one another. "A lot of our holiday stress is tied to obligatory spending," points out Kathleen McIntire, creator of Guiding Signs 101. "In fact, many Americans are already stretching their budgets way past the point of comfort. And beyond that, most people we spend money on would breathe a huge sigh of relief if we just stopped the gift-giving madness. When my son was 17, he mentioned to me that the whole 'presents' part of the holidays was so stressful. He said he'd much prefer to just spend time with the people he loves. That's when we stopped exchanging gifts."
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