Health Advocate Blog

Top 10 tips for smart holiday shopping

You’re hoping for happy holidays–but it’s also important to have a happy wallet. Holiday shopping can get expensive if you don’t approach it wisely. Try these 10 tips to help you handle getting your holiday gifts in a wallet-friendly way!

  1. Start with a budget. Determine how much money you have to spend for holiday gifts this year. Avoid spending more money than you actually have, and avoid just throwing it all on a credit card—if you can’t pay it all off, you may have to deal with paying interest on those purchases, which will cost you more money in the long run.
  2. Plan out your purchases. Now that you know your budget, you have a great starting point! Next, write down a list of every person you want to buy a gift for. Then write down how much money you want to spend per person, making sure that the total does not exceed your budget. Also write down gift ideas for each person; don’t be afraid to do some price-checking online to make sure the gift you want to get someone is in line with the money you’ve budgeted for them.
  3. Look for sales, promotions and/or coupons. There are many opportunities to save on gifts during the holiday season. This can help you buy a gift that is worth more, while spending less.
  4. Shop at discount stores. Sometimes it takes a good eye to spot gifts at these places, but when you find one worth purchasing, you’ll feel like you won the lottery.
  5. Use cash-back sites to help you get money back. There are websites and apps such as Ebates or Ibotta that offer you cash back for making purchases at a wide variety of stores. Getting cash back can help you offset some of the dollars spent during your holiday shopping!
  6. Try switching up your family’s gift-giving. Instead of each person giving a gift to every other person in your family, which can be costly, consider seeing if your family wants to switch it up. For example, you could do a Secret Santa where each person gets the name of another person, and just has to buy a nice gift for that one person.
  7. Don’t buy for yourself. “One for me, one for you” is not a good motto when you’re holiday shopping! In the spirit of sticking to your budget, remember that gifts for yourself are not in that budget. Instead, wait until the post-holiday sales are happening, and if you still want a particular item by that point, see if you can get it on sale then.
  8. Wrap sensibly. Wrapping paper, ribbon and gift tags are very pretty and make gifts look nice, but usually end up in the trash. You don’t need gift wrapping that is overly fancy (and overly expensive) to make a nice presentation!
  9. Consider homemade or handmade. Making gifts may be cheaper than buying them. There are lots of homemade treats you can make for not much money, such as fudge or candy-mold chocolates, cookies or other baked goods, or even festive jars of nuts (buy the nuts from bulk bins or at a warehouse store to save money). Or, think about making a craft, like personalized stationery, holiday ornaments or decorations, handmade jewelry, or something hand-knitted or hand-sewn. The raw materials you use to make these crafts of treats may cost less than a similar finished product would in the store! Plus, if you’re the type of person who enjoys crafting or cooking, these options may be more fun for you than going out to shop at the crowded mall.
  10. Focus on experiences instead of presents. The holidays are about so much more than gifts. They’re about spending time with special people that you love, and making memories that last a lifetime. Consider talking to your family about adjusting the focus from presents to experiences, like sharing a delicious meal, doing an activity together, going out to see a holiday movie, or taking family photographs.

For Health Advocate Members

If you are a Health Advocate with access to our EAP+Work/Life service, call us! We can direct you to other helpful resources for maintaining financial wellness.