The following is a guest post.
Many of us face the same few expensive weeks of the year when holidays, birthdays and other times for celebration come around, but it doesnâ€™t have to be such a drain on your bank balance if you use some savvy ways to save money and plan ahead.
It is always nice to try and shower your family with gifts and give generously but that is not always easy to do when budgets are tight. Shopping online can help you to save money and there are plenty of other ideas that you can use to keep those gifts coming without breaking the bank. Finding each family member a differentÂ as seen on TVÂ present is a great way to treat them to something that won’t soak up your entire budget!
Make a list to save money
If you are looking to save money over the year with your gift buying, you probably wonâ€™t achieve much in the way of savings if you regularly buy presents just before you need to give them.
Shopping in the week before Christmas for example, is not a great money-saving strategy and takes away any advantage you might have gained throughout the year by cutting out coupons and making the most of special offers.
One of the best approaches for saving money throughout the year would be to make a list at the start of it. Many of the dates where you need to buy a gift are set in stone, with regular birthdays and other annual celebrations to buy for, so it makes perfect sense to create a list that you can keep with you all the time and then buy gifts when you spot a bargain or a deal.
Simply update the list every time you buy a gift at a great price and not only do you save money, you will also be much more chilled when the time comes to give a gift, which you might have bought months ago for less than you might have spent in a hurry.
Another sensible idea that can save you a serious amount of money and hassle, is to agree to exclude adults from your gift giving regime.
It might sound like you are directly related to Scrooge to suggest that you will no longer be buying presents for other adults in the family, but it might even secretly comes as a bit of relief for those that agree to reciprocate, as many of us struggle to think of something useful to buy for certain people.
Have a chat with other family members and if the idea is well received, just buying gifts for the kids is going to boost the bank balance.
Use those coupons
It is always worth signing up for email alerts on deals and coupons, as you will invariably save money over the year when you make the most of any offers and price reductions when they are offered to you.
Sometimes the savings might seem a bit trivial and almost not worth bothering with, but that would be the wrong mindset and approach, as all those small savings add up over the year and once you get into the habit of cutting out coupons and discount codes, it can quickly become a money-saving habit that seems very worthwhile.
Ask about price matching
Shoppers now have much more buying power than they used to and that is largely thanks to information readily available on the internet.
If you find a gift that you want to buy in a store using a coupon but after searching on your smartphone, find that it is cheaper elsewhere, donâ€™t be afraid to ask the store where you want to buy the item if they are prepared to price match.
If your chosen store agrees to discount the item in order to get your business, you will be getting a great gift at the best possible price, or cheaper still if you use then use a coupon to get even more money off.
Bring secret Santa home from the office
If you have experienced the secret Santa gift-buying idea in the office, you will know that everyone gets to pick a name out of the hat and then spend a certain amount on buying a gift for the chosen recipient, hopefully based on what they think they would like.
This can work well if the family agree to the secret Santa concept and rather than each person buying a gift for everyone in the family, you all draw a name out of the hat and buy that person a bigger gift than normal because you are not buying loads of presents.
This works well as the recipient gets a better present and you cut your gift costs dramatically as you are only buying for one and not many family members.
Gifting throughout the year doesnâ€™t have to be as expensive as you expect it to be, if you use a few savvy ideas to keep costs down.
Michael Bailey works in personal financial services. He developed a passion for money saving at an early age and now enjoys the chance to share his ideas with an online audience. Michael writes regularly for a number of personal finance websites.
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