10 Easy Tips to Save Money This Christmas

Want to learn how to save money on gifts this Christmas and not feel like a Scrooge? According to this year’s National Retail Federation holiday survey, the average American will spend close to $700 this season on gifts, cards, decorations, and the like. This is one time when you want to be below average — way below. In fact, if you are in debt, just say no to gift buying this holiday. There is absolutely NO reason for you to go further into debt buying gifts for others. There are 13.6 million Americans who are still trying to pay off holiday debt from last year. Don’t join them by digging yourself into a deeper hole.

If you are going to buy gifts this year, the key to avoiding a holiday season that drains your bank account is to start planning early. Here are the top 10 money saving tips for steering clear of holiday debt and starting the new year in better financial shape:

1. Plan it.Before you shop online or enter the chaos of the shopping mall, take 10 minutes at home to create a spending plan that lists who you need to buy for and how much you will spend.

2. Use discounted gift cards.How would you like $100 worth of gifts for $80? You can purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including the Apple Store, Radio Shack, Sears, Home Depot, and others. Discounts are usually 5-30 percent off the face value of the card. Check outGiftCardRescue.com andGiftCards.com.

3. Use social media.Before you start shopping, start following your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Many companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends. A quick search of their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.

4. Barter via online chat.When you’re shopping online, look for a “chat” or “live help” button. Tell the customer service rep you’d like to shop with them but you want a 15 percent discount. Ask them to check with their manager or you will abandon your shopping cart and click over to their competitor. This won’t work all of the time, but when it does it willsave you money.

5. Find discount codes.I never buy anything online without trying to find a discount code first. I’ve literally saved hundreds of dollars and it doesn’t take more than a minute. Simply go to RetailMeNot.com,SecretPrices.com, andFreeShipping.org to pull up all of the available discounts for your store. Use the discount code during the checkout process to get free shipping or to save 20 percent or more.

6. Get cash back.If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars this year on gifts, you might as well try to get a few bucks back. I’ve usedebates.com (affiliate link — all proceeds will go to charity) for some time and have received several rebate checks.

7. Bring on the envelopes, chuck the credit cards.Leave your credit cards and debit cards at home. Allocate an amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients’ names.

8. Give group gifts.When exchanging presents within large groups of people, even “token” gifts can really add up. Try a “white elephant” exchange, a secret Santa strategy, or going in with co-workers on a gift for your boss.

9. Make a promise that you won’t buy anything for yourself.When you’re shopping for gifts, it’s easy to be tempted to buy for yourself. Make this season about others, not you — and remember that the items you want will likely be less expensive during the after-season sales.

10. Avoid the “10 percent off, buy more” phenomenon.Stores often offer great deals when you sign up for their credit cards, but beware the high rate of interest these cards charge and ask yourself if you’ll really be saving money in the long run. And don’t spend more than you intended just because you’re now getting a discount on your purchase.

If you follow these money saving tips, I guarantee you will put more green — and less red — into holiday shopping this year.

(christmas tree image bywolfsavard,CC 2.0)

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Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

I'm putting this by for next year. Thank you!

Joanna Coombs
Joanna Coombs6 years ago

We use the Secret Santa idea for friends and group up for big presents for family. If the present is big enough, it carries on into their birthday present too. They still get a card and a little something to open on the day, but understand that they've had their big gift. It's worked for us for about 15 years now. :)

Jay J.
Jay J.6 years ago

great tips. I like to use coupons when I buy online. I use coupons from www.couponroo.com.

Beth P.
Beth P6 years ago

@Vero G: Great ideas, thanks!

Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

Awesome! I had no idea about some of those discounts...thanks!

Julie F.
Julie F6 years ago

great post!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Good reminder...

Nola g.
Nola g6 years ago

Thankyou for all the good tips. The best present is just being able to spend time with loved ones.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers6 years ago

Look ahead to next year as soon as the festive season is over! Buy cards and wrapping papaer etc. in the sales. Shop at sales throughout the year! Enjoy shopping and saving at the same time!! No mad rush next December!

Vero Gall
Past Member 6 years ago

I'm very thankful that my family decided to step out of the Christmas mania. We don't give gifts, we give time together laughing and enjoying each other's company. When children are involved, we'll do a secret santa with each adult buying/getting just 1 present. Often we adults don't need/want things so we suggest giving our gift to the kids so the children will get 2 or 3 presents each, but not more.

Our favorite tradition is every night before going up to bed, we turn out all the lights so the lit-up tree shines then put our arms around each other and say what we are grateful for today.

If we are going to visit people where gifts are expected then I plan as far in advance as possible and try to creativity rather than quantity. Most of our friends can afford to buy themselves what they want, so time, thoughtfulness and caring are what matters most. For example, staying overnight near a friend's so we can help clean up before and after their party. When staying with friends, be the person who gets up early and buy the croissants fresh from the bakery and starts the coffee brewing. Have friends with pets? Offer to walk their dogs and care for their pets both while they are away at parties and (for those who have dogs but no gardens) the morning afterwards, so they can sleep in.

As others have already mentioned: shovel walkways, clean gutters, visit neighbors who are not so mobile. Is the weather rainy/snowy where you are making it difficult or dangerous for some? Mak