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November 2, 2021

With the holiday season fast approaching, you'll soon find yourself shopping for festive decorations, meaningful gifts, and a host of other merry expenses that pop up this time of year. But, this season is unlike those in recent memory. You've probably noticed that everything from gasoline to ground meat costs more today than it did a year ago. If you're intent on getting the most for every dollar you spend this holiday season, then shop now before prices go up even more.

Here are five additional tips to make your holiday dollar go further this year.

1. Set Spending Limits

The simplest way to stretch your money is to avoid overspending. First, prepare a holiday budget based on how much you spent last year. Then, add a 10% cushion to account for rising prices. You can determine how much you want to spend in each expense category when you have a pre-set spending limit. If you find your total is too high, use the tips listed below to identify ways you can spend less.

Bonus Tip: Online and in-store coupons for items already on your list could help you stay on track.

2. Include Homemade Gifts

Gift-giving shouldn't be stressful, but it can be when you don't have enough money to purchase a present for everyone on your holiday list. Consider mixing up your gift list by adding more homemade items. By including a few less expensive and more thoughtful items, you can lower your overall spending without detracting from what makes the holidays so special.

3. Redeem Credit Card Rewards

Redeem available points on your credit card statement and pay for gifts and other holiday expenses without spending a dime. Depending on your account features, you could redeem points for gift cards, cashback, or other merchandise. Contact your credit card issuer for details.

4. Host a Virtual Gift Exchange

You don't need to purchase a shiny new gift for everyone on your holiday list. An online gift exchange can help ensure everyone in your family receives at least one gift without draining your bank account. The more people who participate, the greater the potential cost savings. Remember to set a per-gift spending limit for each participant.

Use an online tool, like Draw Names or Giftster, to help simplify the pairing process. Then, instruct participants to mail the gift to their person so that it arrives at least three days before the scheduled exchange. On the day of the virtual gift exchange, everyone signs into a video conferencing system, like Zoom, to watch each person open their gift.

5. Make a Charitable Contribution

Gift a donation to a charitable cause on behalf of a loved one and you could benefit, too. When you give to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, you might be able to deduct the donated amount from next year's federal income tax bill. Before you give online, in-person, or by phone, visit charity watchdog websites like BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator to ensure the organization is legitimate.

Rising inflation isn't the only reason you should start your holiday shopping early this year. Retailers expect supply shortages, which are likely to make it harder to track down trendy gifts or snag hot holiday deals. So, waiting until Black Friday could mean big crowds, less-than-stellar discounts, a limited selection, or all three.

Make your holiday shopping list today!