You Don’t Have to be Cheap to Save Money at Christmas

Lots of people think the holiday season is the time of year when budgets and limits can go right out the window. Some people may start out with a budget, but then they see that absolute-must-have-can’t-live-without present and their carefully-contrived budget goes right out the window.

If you think you have to spend a ton of money to have a great Christmas, think again. And, just because you set a budget for yourself doesn’t mean you’re “cheap”; it means you’re “smart”.

But how do you spend wisely at Christmas time without looking “cheap”?

Follow these 5 tips:

1. Harness the power of gift cards.

They’re small, they can be purchased right at the last minute, and they let you set the price you want to pay. Have a gadget-lover in the family? Get a Best Buy gift card. Even if $10 or $20 won’t pay for that set of speakers he’s had his eye on, it’ll help defray the cost a bit.

Have a teenage son who’s impossible to shop for? Get him an iTunes gift card. Even $10 will get him about 10 songs he’ll love.

Have a cousin that never seems to pull his head out of a book? Get him a gift card to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or his local bookstore.

Have a pre-teen daughter who loves to hang out with her friends at the movies? Give her a $10 gift card to your local movie theater. It’ll pay for two matinee tickets. Or, get her a gift card to Blockbuster and throw in a microwaveable bag of popcorn or a box of her favorite candy to munch on.

The best part about gift cards is you can tailor them to anyone’s interests. If it’s Christmas Eve and you’re stuck finding a present for someone, go buy them a gift card. If you want to avoid the mall altogether, most grocery stores have a ton of gift cards to choose from right at the registers!

2. Indulge someone’s sweet tooth.

If you have a coffee lover in the family, Starbucks has products that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Even if you only have $10 to spend, you can get your coffee-loving loved one a pouch of freshly-ground coffee, a new mug, or a new type of biscotti they’ll be sure to enjoy.

Or, if your recipient is more into ice cream, head to Cold Stone Creamery – where you can get a pint of their favorite flavor. If you look wisely, you might even be able to find a few coupons to enclose with the gift!

3. Focus on accessories.

You might not be able to afford the latest gadgets, but thanks to you can accessorize gadgets! At SkinIt, you can pick from thousands of “skins” that go on laptops and mobile devices – sort of like a giant sticker. Each “skin” is about $15, and it can give even an old gadget a brand new feel!

4. Help with bigger purchases.

OK, so you might not have the money to pay for your best friend’s calls back to her homeland, but you can give her a prepaid phone card that helps offset some of the charges.
Even if you only spend $10 or $20, your friend can talk to people all over the world – thanks, in part, to you!

5. When in doubt, head to Amazon.

Amazon has great deals on just about everything. Even if you’re stuck on a present for the pickiest person you know, you can rest easy giving them a $10 or $20 gift card to Amazon. If you want to be really unique, you can even have a gift card sent to your friend in a Facebook post!


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