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  • Kimberly Stone

Savvy Shopping Tips for Gift-giving Season

How can you save more this holiday shopping season? As part of their 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, market research company NPD Group announced that Americans plan to spend an average of $740 on holiday shopping — a 7% increase since last year. The survey also found that more people started their shopping earlier than last year, some even before Black Friday.

What can you do to ensure your spending does not spiral out of control? Here are some savvy shopping tips for this gift-giving season:

Set a limit. Decide what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Perhaps you can provide an incentive for yourself with the amount you save under your spending limit. Better yet? Reward yourself with the after-holidays sales!

Make a list. Perhaps Santa got it right when he "makes a list and checks it twice." Your list can be your working tool to try to stay on budget. Try sorting your list by groups of people (family, extended family, colleagues, friends, etc.) or by dates you plan on giving gifts. There are plenty of phone apps that can make this easier.

Avoid the impulse. Yes, the sparkly lip balm packs and shaving sets intentionally placed near the checkout aisles seem like good ideas. But you don’t need those impulse buys! A side benefit of making a list is to tie your budget to the items on your list. This matching of budget and list will ensure your spending goal is attainable.

Comparison shop and price match. See something you like but you’re not convinced by the price tag? Go online and see where you can find it for less. Even if you don't plan to buy the item online, you can shop different retail locations without making the drive. If you do make an online purchase, don't forget to factor in shipping costs. Looking for in-store or online coupon codes can also help you save money or get free shipping.

Consider gift alternatives. If you really don’t know what to gift someone, think about other options that may be more meaningful than random retail items. Many people appreciate the gift of time such as babysitting or doing yard work for a friend. Consider making a handmade craft or edible goodie for them to enjoy. Focus on experiences versus stuff — such as memberships to local attractions or gift cards to the movies.

Save now to spend later. While it may be too late for this year, consider setting next year's budget based on this year's experience. Then set up a special savings account for next year and start funding it over the coming months. This can readily reduce your spending stress next year.

Cherish giving. One of the nicest gifts one can give is to reintroduce the giving nature of the season. Consider purchasing a gift for a charity and then have your child or grandchild deliver it. This idea can plant the seed for future generations that consumption should not be the central theme of the holidays. Plus your little one has the joy of making the holiday season that much more special!

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