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Money-Saving Strategies for Holiday Shopping

Money-Saving Strategies for Holiday Shopping

‘Tis the season to spend less

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Between gifts, decorations, food and more, the holiday season can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be if you stick to some creative swaps for gift-giving, shop at discount stores, take advantage of online deals and more. Here are some simple strategies to spend less this holiday season.

Set a budget ahead of time

Set a budget ahead of time

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Before you begin your holiday season shopping, create a budget and try to stay within it. It’s easier said than done, but budgeting apps can help you visualize your expenses and spending habits, making it easier to stick to a certain amount.

Do a secret Santa exchange

Do a secret Santa exchange

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A classic holiday money-saving trick is to plan a secret Santa gift exchange with your friends and family. It involves drawing one name from a collection of people, so you will buy one gift for one person instead of getting gifts for everyone.

Shop the sales

Shop the sales

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Most, if not all, retailers advertise their sales online as well as in-store, with sites offering a variety of deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more. Pay attention to upcoming deals so you don’t miss out on savings. If you’re stocking up on holiday groceries and using a service like Instacart or even a store’s own app, select the grocery store’s sales page, where you can scroll through the various deals.

Add extensions to your browser

Add extensions to your browser

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One of the best ways to save money without having to compare sales or scour the internet for coupons is to install browser extensions that do it for you. Plugins like Honey automatically search the web for working promo codes for a site as you shop. You’ll need to use Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera in order to enable this extension, but it’s completely free to use. There are other money-saving plugins as well, such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), which allows shoppers to receive cash-back for online purchases. 

Look at online gift guides

Look at online gift guides

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Online retailers will often create gift guides for every budget that can be incredibly useful. For example, on Amazon, you can select from several categories like “Home under $50” or “Gifts under $30” and even specify who and what age you’re shopping for. These gift guides can help you stay focused and not waste time searching and scrolling through pages of gifts you can’t afford.

Limit it to 1 gift each

Limit it to 1 gift each

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While gift-giving comes from a place of generosity and love, you don’t have to break the bank to show someone you care. This year, try something different. Write down a list of people you need to buy gifts for and buy one gift for each person. Next to their name, add a note or two about what you’re looking to get for them and stick to the plan. 

Make homemade gifts

Make homemade gifts

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Sometimes, holiday shopping is even more difficult because the people you’re buying gifts for already have everything they want and need. If that’s the case, consider skipping something store-bought and instead make a homemade gift that will be treasured by your friends and family for years to come.

Send some sweet treats

Send some sweet treats

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For the people with sweet tooths in your life, you can layer mason jars with ingredients for hot chocolate, cookies, brownies and other easy-to-make desserts and tie them up with a handwritten note and a recipe. It's a cost-effective gift because you can buy ingredients in bulk and divide them up for each person instead of having to buy separate items.

Have a jam sesh

Have a jam sesh

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A jar of jam is probably one of the best homemade food gifts to give and receive. You can make a big batch of jam, then jar it to gift to loved ones. You can even include a baguette or two.

Make a holiday care package

Make a holiday care package

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When you’re on your next grocery run, pick up extra boxes of pasta, jarred sauces, coffee beans, hot chocolate and other store-bought goodies to create a cozy holiday care package for a friend or family member. Not only is this thoughtful and fun, but you’ll also get more bang for your buck compared to dropping money on a single gift item.

Check out thrift stores

Check out thrift stores

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There’s no shame in secondhand-shopping — in fact, it's a great eco-friendly option for both gift-giving and home decorating for the holidays. Things like books, cookbooks, jewelry and more can be much cheaper if you buy them from thrift stores. Shopping this way also allows you to score rare, harder-to-find items that could mean so much to someone who enjoys vintage items.

Get creative with gift wrapping

Get creative with gift wrapping

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Wrapping paper is generally an added expense around the holidays that is quickly ripped apart and crumpled. To save some money, get creative with how you wrap gifts and try reusing as many items as possible that you already have on hand, such as newspapers, pieces of fabric, brown paper bags and more.

Shop the dollar store for decor

Shop the dollar store for decor

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Gifts are only one part of holiday spending — there’s also decorating your house. Even if you reuse the previous year's decorations, it’s tempting to get shiny new things. For affordable decor, hit the dollar store for things like ornaments, ribbons, candles and candleholders, vases and more. You can also head to the craft store to find items for DIY centerpieces and other low-cost, high-impact decor.

Collect decor from nature

Collect decor from nature

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Head outside to a forest, preserve or even your own neighborhood park and collect fallen branches, twigs and pinecones to use as decor. Pinecones spray-painted silver or gold can look fabulous in a decorative bowl as the table centerpiece. And you can arrange twigs in vases around the house and mix them with some store-bought arrangements for a semi-homemade project. Finding items and turning them into decorations can be a fun activity for kids too

Use a credit card that racks up rewards

Collect decor from nature

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If you’re using a credit card to pay for gifts, groceries and other expenses this holiday season, you might as well use one that comes with rewards. Cash-back incentives and reward points can help you save money. Using your credit card and then paying off your bills is also a great way to build credit.

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