Planning ahead can save you in the end. Make a list of people, and then prioritize. This list will also be your gift shopping budget for the holidays. You can even share your holiday gift lists with family and friends online at KeepandShare.com. For budgeting tips, go to Mint.com and check out its easy budgeting tools. Now carry the list and budget with you on your shopping sprees, and stick to it!
5. Group gifts
Focus on buying for close friends and family, and minimize the number of gifts for acquaintances and coworkers. Also consider buying one large gift that several people on your list can enjoy. "Group gifts are great," Madhok says. "I'd rather get one great gift for my family than 10 little gifts." Groupon.com, with the apt slogan "collective buying power," provides bulk discounts. You can sign up at Groupon.com for E-mail alerts of sales going on in your area, such as restaurant or beauty salon discounts, which make ideal gifts to share with family or friends.
6. Online coupons
Consumers can simply point and click to find online coupons for the product of their choice. Most of these coupon sites provide a coupon code to be used on a retail store's website. During the online checkout, type the code under the "promo" or "coupon code" heading to receive the discount, Madhok says. On most of these websites, you can register to receive daily or weekly E-mails of coupon specials. PriceGrabber.com found that 39 percent of those surveyed plan to use online coupons to purchase their presents. Such sites as Coupon.com, SmartSource.com, and CouponMom.com are popular for consumers looking for a bargain. Madhok recommends RetailMeNot.com, a crowd-source coupon site where users find and share coupons from more than 40,000 online stores. She also says to look out for cash-back options with your bank. For instance, at BankofAmerica/additup.com, you can receive up to 20 percent cash back on purchases at about 300 retailers. For the holiday season, she said some retailers are doubling their cash-back incentives.
7. Gift exchanges
Gift exchanges are a great way to save money and get some fun treats for yourself. Throw a Secret Santa party with coworkers, friends, or family. Also, White Elephant is a fun way to exchange humorous gifts. Everyone buys and wraps one gift—it can even be something fun and cheap you already own. Then each person selects a gift or steals from another person with an already opened gift.
Madhok refers to regifting as "gift recycling" and says it is easy not only on the wallet but also on the environment, as you are reusing items rather than throwing them away. Avoid the dreaded fruitcake this year, and go for gifts, preferably less personal and unused, such as gift cards, jewelry, candles, picture frames, and housewares.
9. Budget for yourself
Now after all of your generosity, don't forget to reward yourself. Along with your gift list, budget how much you'd like to spend for yourself. It's best to decide what you'd like early on, so you can spend time looking for it at the lowest price. If you have a specific gift in mind, you can go to sites like ShopStyles.com, for clothing and fashion accessories, or PriceSpider.com, for electronics, and select items you like. Then the website will send you E-mail alerts whenever your selected item goes on sale, Madhok says.