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Gifting on a Budget: 5 Tips for Stretching Your Dollar when Holiday Shopping

December 1, 2022


The holiday shopping season is one of the busiest times of the year for consumers, and it's filled with twinkling lights and deep discounts. if you’re budgeting for the holidays, it can feel like an expensive obligation wrapped up with a red bow. However, with a carefully planned and well thought out plan, you can avoid burning a hole in your wallet before the shopping season ends. Whether you have a long list of gifts that you can’t wait to buy or the dread of the season is weighing you down, here are five tips to help stretch your dollar with a few budgeting tips for the holiday.

Start with the people, not the presents

It’s tempting to set out on foot (or your phone) in search of the best present for those special people in your life. But before you know it, you can blow your budget in one afternoon. Instead of letting sales, window shopping, or the perfect gift sway your savvy decision making, start with the people. Write down everyone – yes, everyone. If you plan on buying your dog walker a gift, then add them to the list. Once you have the who, add how much you’d like to spend on each person. Now, add it up. If you're budgeting for the holidays with a $500 limit for everyone but the list adds up to over $900, you’ll have to start either cutting folks from the list or making some adjustments to your per-person budget. t’s better to prepare this now than regret your purchases later.

Start shopping early and set alerts

When shopping on a budget, don’t set out with the goal of finding everything you need at one store. And don’t set unrealistic expectations that Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales are going to be the best bargains. By having your per-person budget in hand, you can start to plan for what you’re getting them. With this info you can do your research and get the best deal. You can use comparison shopping tools like Google Shopping or camelcamelcamel to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and you can even set up alerts for price drops. The earlier you start, the more time you have to make informed decisions (vs. last minute impulse buys). 

Get friends and family involved in a gift exchange

If you’re not the only one in your group budgeting for the holidays, consider sharing the idea of a gift exchange. You can keep it simple and have everyone draw a name. This way everyone only has to purchase one gift at a set price limit, while ensuring that everyone in the group receives an item. But there are lots of ways to get creative with a gift exchange too. You can have a theme, like an ornament or craft exchange. If you have a group with a shared hobby or passion, you could also all go in together on a shared item like a subscription to a wine of the month club that you could all enjoy together. Make it fun and focus on the act of giving instead of the price tag. 

Stack your savings

In addition to shopping sales or finding discounted items, you can also get money back on your gifts in multiple ways. From the basics like cash back on credit cards, there are lots of apps that allow you to cash in on shopping through their site versus going directly to the retailer. A few options include Dosh, Ibotta, Rakuten, Honey, and RetailMeNot. Another way to get more bang for your buck is gift card deals. Many retailers will have promotions like, “buy $50, get $20 free” – this means you can either regift that extra card as an additional gift or use it as savings. Whether it’s a discount code, a paper coupon, or a cashback app – using a combo of savings methods can really add up in your favor. 

Add a personal touch 

When giving a gift, the recipient will always appreciate that extra dose of thoughtfulness  that went into it. If your spending limit for holiday gifts is super tight this year, consider how to pair smaller budget items with a hefty amount of DIY love. Here are a few examples. If your best friend loves hiking, you could purchase a new backpack on sale and then fill it with less expensive items like trail mix, sunscreen, and a journal. If your sister loves baking, you could get her a fancy new apron and box it up with five of your favorite recipes that you’d like to try together. These little (often free) extras can really turn a less expensive gift into a holiday showstopper.

Did you enjoy these tips? Get more info on donating to charity and how to make the most of your giving this holiday season by downloading your copy of the 2022 Happy Money Giving Guide today!