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December 11, 2023

The holiday shopping season is finally here, which means deals galore. It’s also a time to grab something special for everyone on your list. But without a plan, you could easily overspend and find yourself in debt once the dust settles. So, as you do some last-minute shopping, remember these tips. You’ll save yourself from a holiday debt hangover, and your wallet will thank you.

1. Make a list and stick to it

You spot one item you adore for your loved one, followed by another. And that friend or relative who wasn’t on your list - there’s something neat for them, too. While it can be tempting to shower them all with presents, stick to your list.

Speaking of lists, if you haven’t made one, do it now and jot down a budget for each person listed. Most importantly, you’ll avoid impulse purchases by planning what and who you need to buy for before shopping trips.

2. Take advantage of sales and promotions

This one is a no-brainer, but still worth mentioning for a few reasons. It's tempting to grab whatever you find without considering the price tag. For the sake of convenience, it makes sense. But doing so also means you could easily overspend.

In reality, many retailers offer price cuts and deals in the days leading up to major holidays. Stay on top of sales at your favorite stores by subscribing to their mailing lists. You can also use price comparison apps to find the best deals on items on your list.

3. Buy generic or store-brand items

If you can cut costs by buying generic, consider doing so. Items like wrapping paper and guest bags can usually be found for much less with a store's generic brand. Your gift recipients are unlikely to be picky about the packaging, and your wallet will appreciate the savings.

Buying generic also applies to small presents, like candles, blankets, and other trinkets. Just be aware that sometimes, the quality may be a bit less than a name brand with these items. 

4. Consider gift cards over physical gifts

Last-minute gift cards are a surefire way to avoid blowing up your holiday budget. Plus, you’ll avoid shipping delays and let recipients choose what they want.

Some retailers offer generous gift card promotions around this time of year. You may be able to buy a bundle at a steeply discounted price or get two for one. Or, the retailer may offer a gift card from a different store when you purchase one from theirs.

5. Shop small, shop local

Consider patronizing small businesses in your community this holiday season. You’ll avoid shipping costs, which can add up quickly. Plus, you can offer unique gifts that may not be available through big-box retailers.

6. Look for price adjustment policies

When doing last-minute holiday shopping, check if stores have price adjustment policies. Some places refund the difference if the item goes on sale within a specific period.

This way, you can shop without worrying about missing out on extra savings.

7. Bundle packages to save on shipping

Try to bundle your holiday packages to save on shipping costs. You'll save money if you can send multiple presents to the same address.

Another option is to see if you can have your items shipped to a nearby store to pick up. This strategy can also help you save on shipping expenses and possibly get the items sooner.

8. Consider curbside and in-store pickup

Opting for no-shipping pickup options at major chains is another way to save money. You’ll avoid the pesky shipping fees and the temptation to buy more items when you’re inside the store.

Plus, you'll save time while simplifying your shopping experience. And you won’t be stuck in stores choosing from overpriced, picked-over items.

The bottom line

Shopping for holiday gifts at the last minute doesn't have to stretch your wallet thin. Following these tips, you can keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Plus, you may be able to save a little time in the process.

If you want to be prepared for holiday spending next year, and avoid last-minute spending, how about opening a Christmas Club account? You can easily save through payroll deductions and track your savings amount online during the year.