10 Ways to Avoid Overspending on Holiday Gifts


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money PitGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

20 Tips for Buying a Home in the Best Location, Location, LocationGrow

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

Marijuana Stocks Flaming Out Under TrumpFamily

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

Before you hit the stores, do some prep work at home. You'll save time, sanity, and cash with a little holiday organization.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than $586 billion this year on holiday shopping.

Last year, when I checked my bank account in early October, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the holidays with a steady savings and a happy family. But I managed to do both and now my obsessive organization for holiday shopping is entering year 2.

The NRF estimates the average holiday shopper will spend $750 on gifts, cards, decor, and more. Save your time, sanity, and extra cash with some holiday organization.

1. Make a list, check it twice

Create a spreadsheet, Google Doc, or even hand-write a list of people you’re buying for. Mine includes a column for the people I’m buying for, a gift idea, the amount of the gift, a place for more info on the gift (this could be a direct link to an online purchase), and if it’s bought or needs to be bought. Split up friends, family, and extended relatives into different groups. Mine are color-coded since I have a few different groups to buy for. I also made a list of people who will receive just holiday cards rather than gifts.

2. Make a budget

You could say “I’m only going to spend $300 on gifts this year,” and while that may be a good idea in theory, it depends on how many people you’re buying for. Try prioritizing each person and setting a price limit for each person’s gift. I will probably spend more money on my mom than my great aunt in New York.

3. Don’t rely on retail stores

The Internet tells you when an item is out of stock. A retail store doesn’t tell you until you’ve arrived, searched, and come up empty-handed. See exactly where the watch you’re scoping out for your significant other is available before trekking out to buy it.

4. Buy the same thing more than once

If you’ve got a big group to buy for, consider piling up on gift cards for a few different people. Costco sells $100 worth of certain gift cards for $80, for example. Check out the best sites for buying discounted gift cards here.

5. Split the difference

If you are planning on getting a big gift for someone, but know you can’t afford it on your own, talk to friends and family about dividing payments among a few people. Last year, my family bought my grandma a new TV and a bunch of us chipped in what we could.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask

You’d rather get someone something they like than guess and get them something they won’t use. Post-holiday returns and exchanges are hectic, especially for the people who have to stand in line. While you may want to keep up with the tradition of surprise, it doesn’t hurt to simply find out what someone wants or needs. Ask your loved ones to email you a list of what they want or get them started on Amazon Wish Lists, which helps tremendously.

7. Prior use doesn’t mean second-rate

When I invested in a record player earlier this year, I started going to second-hand stores and thrift shops in search of finding great records for $1 instead of $20. This also bodes well for books, appliances, dishware, and even furniture. If someone you know recently moved and needs some household items, check thrift stores for lightly used products.

8. Compare prices

Brick-and-mortar stores continue to find ways to compete with Amazon and other online retailers, so check the price online first. Use Amazon’s Price Check app (Android and iPhone) to see if you can buy it cheaper online. Use price comparison websites as well.

9. Read and re-read the fine print

If you surprise someone with a gift they dislike, they could end up stuck with it if you don’t know the return policy. A friend once got earrings for her sister from Forever 21. Her sister wasn’t a fan of them, but the store doesn’t allow returns on jewelry. To better prepare yourself this holiday season, read about the best and worst return policies for 2012.

10. Start before Black Friday

If you see a sale on an item in October, don’t wait until December to snatch it up. I made my holiday shopping list at the end of September to get a head start on purchases. I buy a little at a time and don’t break the bank. A lot of times, sales start long before Black Friday.

What are your favorite holiday shopping tips and tricks? Tell us on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,001 more deals!