Gift buying is tricky, especially if you’re a young professional who’s not exactly cash-fluid. You want to spoil everyone on your list—Apple Nike+ watch for dad! That cute dress from Reformation for your sister! An all-expenses-paid meditation retreat for mom!—but on your budget, it’ll be tough to spend more than $50 a person.
Never fear—you don’t have to choose between ravage the aisles of the dollar store looking for presents for friends and family and racking up insane debt to afford holiday gifts. Instead, follow these six simple tricks for shopping on a tight budget.
Santa is always well-prepared, so take a page out of his book and make a list. Write down who you’re buying for, what you want to buy, and how much money you’ve allocated for each person. To hold yourself accountable to your budget, use cash instead of credit cards. For pricier gifts, consider using layaway or Afterpay so you can pay them off over time.
If you’re willing to brave the sale-induced madness at your local mall, be sure to get in and get out. That way you aren’t tempted to spend more time (and money!) than you wanted to. And, most importantly, be sure to take advantage of extended trading hours and go when it’s less crowded so you can choose carefully without having to jostle for space and deal with crazed parking lots. Alternatively, take your Christmas list to an antique store. You’ll most likely find something that’s unique, more personal, and far less expensive.
This year, it’s time to flex those creative muscles. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, why not create a personal, tasty gift (check out our healthy holiday treat round up for some inspo). Or, if you have a knack for painting nails, massage, or even babysitting, give an IOU.
One of the best ways to nab a bargain online is to do a Google search for a discount code for the website you’re shopping on. You can also check out discount websites like Honey, Gilt, and Groupon. And if you follow your favorite brands and retailers on social media, you may be able to get exclusive discounts through these social channels. Their newsletters—as well as sites like Racked and The Editorialist—are also great places to find sales and deals.
Keep track of your festive spending to avoid going over your budget. Apps like Pocketbook and Mint are great options for managing your money, consolidating your accounts and paying your bills.
Follow Marie Kondo’s advice and purge your closet pre-Christmas for a little extra dosh. Visit resale sites and apps like eBay, ASOS Marketplace, Shedd, and Tradesy, as well as Facebook groups. Or, better yet, grab your pals and host a stall at your local market.