Today is Black Friday, the official kick-off of the 2009 holiday shopping season. On one hand, consumers appear to be willing to spend a bit< more money than the past two holiday seasons, however most people remain cautiously optimistic in light of a recovering economy. If you are venturing out (or staying in) to do some holiday shopping, the following tips can help you get the perfect gifts without going broke in the process.
- Start with a list- Before you begin shopping for gifts on the fly, take a few moments to sit down and create a holiday shopping list. Just as most people save money at the grocery store by first making and then sticking to a grocery list, the same theory applies to holiday shopping. Determine who you are shopping for as well as a price point that you can afford to spend on gifts. It helps to not only have individual price limits but an overall amount of cash that you can spend without going in debt or cutting your regular budget too close.
- Shop early- Manufacturers have cut back on production as a result of the recession and lower demand from retail stores which are afraid to order too many products which might not sell quickly. As a result, the inventory will be less in most discount and department stores. This year, the age old saying, "the early bird gets the worm" will apply to holiday shoppers. If you traditionally wait until the last minute either due to time constraints or a limited budget you might find you are missing the best deals. In the worse case scenario, you might not only miss the cheaper price but the availability of the item you are seeking all together.
- Shop smart with online deals- Shopping online has become increasingly popular over the years with many websites offering deals equivalent or better than local stores. If you are not already familiar with cash back websites such as FatWallet.com or MrRebates.com, take a few moments to visit these sites to learn how you earn cash back or other rewards while shopping online. There are also websites which offer online coupons or coupon codes which can reduct the amount owed at check-out and reduce or eliminate shipping fees.
- Get Creative- Sometimes the best gifts are things that take more time than money. Consider creative homemade gifts such as baked goods or seasonal home decorations which are always well received and generally less expensive to prepare/made than other merchandise.
After two years of gloomy financial news, many people are looking forward to a holiday season that is marked by a positive change in the economy. Fortunately just as many people have learned valuable lessons in recent years, specifically the need to spend money responsibly. Avoid debt, save money and enjoy this holiday season by using these simple money saving tips.