Thursday, November 08, 2012

Plan, Prepare, and Save

It's November and according to the retail industry it means the Christmas/Holiday Season. They are betting on you spending a boat load of cash this year on gifts for friends and family. So...unless you plan on cutting out presents all'll need a way to save on what you plan to buy.

Here is the strategy I've been using for a couple years and it has saved lots of money for my family.

Have a plan - obviously. Create a list of all the people you hope to buy a gift for this year. Now eliminate all the people you can. Do you really need to give a present to the neighbor down the street that you haven't spoken to since summer? How about the all your co-workers? Stick to people who are truly important to you and your family.

Once you have your list go through and assign a dollar amount to each person. Set a budget and stick to it. For example: your niece Olivia $20. You can also allocate a dollar amount to each family instead of each person individually. I assign a certain amount for each mother/father/brother/sister, and another amount for each niece/nephew. The main point is to set a budget and stick to it or stay under that amount.

Now some of you may only purchase for the kids and not buy presents for the adults. You may also draw names so everyone gets a present - sort of like a Secret Santa game.

Now that you have your list of people to buy for and how much you can spend you can brainstorm gift ideas. Consider what the person wants and what they actually need. Your child's teacher really doesn't want or need another mug or candle. Just ask them - I'm sure they have at least 5 from last year that still haven't been used. Think about hobbies, extracurricular activities, family life, etc.

Now once you've come up with at least 2 ideas per person start your search. Look through sales ads and online for deals on the gifts you want to buy. We are trying to stretch your dollars as far as they will go.

If you plan on buying online wait for a great deal like those from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Also consider using to earn money on your purchases. I personally love using all year - trading my points in for gift certificates which I use for presents. Use the program that works for you, but find a way to earn from your purchases.

Basically make your list of gifts to buy, set a budget, brainstorm gift ideas, and shop the deals. Planning and preparing are the key - know who you need to buy for and what to buy then stick to a budget.

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