Saturday, November 7, 2009

Smart holiday spending tips

Christmas is nearing and we already have some advance planning for the season’s needs. Part of that planning is buying presence to our love ones. As we all know Christmas is a spending season for people from all walks of life.

Below are some shopping tips to guide you. Remember we can celebrate Christmas without going over budget.

Plan ahead - As early as possible, list down people you want to give gifts to. Wait for mall-wide sales, inventory sales, closing-out sales, or even calamity sales throughout the year. Definitely, prices will be lower and you can start buying gifts in increments - without having to spend large amounts in one go.

Shop early - If you have a shopping list ready, try going at early hours in the day when malls or stores open. This way, you won't feel harassed when looking for gifts and if you shop early enough in the season, you won't have to compete with other buyers for limited items or stocks.

Go bargain hunting - It is fun to shop in bargain hotspots like Divisoria in Manila, the Dapitan Arcade in Quezon City, or the Green Hills "tiangge" in San Juan. You can find a lot of gift items or decorations - and haggle with the stall keepers when you buy. This means you can stick to your budget.

Look for "UK" goods - These are not imports from London, but "ukay-ukay" finds. Some of them, like vintage bags or clothes, can be jazzed up with newer items to give gifts that homemade touch. Never underestimate the value of making homemade gifts when your budget gets tight.

Recycle gifts - Don't know what to do with items you got in previous Christmases but have never used? Try re-wrapping them and giving them as gifts to people whom you think would make good use of them. Make sure you don't give it back to the source!

Want to give food as gifts? - Try homemade rather than store-bought. Homemade delicacies will be appreciated more than store-bought food and will cost you much less.

Buy in bulk - If you have a lot of people on your Christmas shopping list, and you aren't certain about what they like, consider buying items in bulk. You can purchase multiple sets of gifts like t-shirts, candles, or foodstuffs. These types of gifts are ideal if you have co-workers, employees, or sets of acquaintances. Sometimes, stores also offer discounts for buyers who buy wholesale or many items at once.

Be pragmatic and strike out names - It may sound mean-spirited but you don't really have to buy for every person around you. Sometimes you really need to shorten your Christmas shopping list to make it more manageable especially when you have a limited budget.

Clustering - Also, try to cluster the people on your Christmas list. Instead of buying for every co-worker, why not give them just one large gift - like a cake? Or instead of buying for every aunt or uncle, why not give them gifts as a couple?

No-gift season? - Make an agreement with your family members that no one should spend more than a certain amount for gifts (setting a price cap for gifts). You can even go the charitable route: instead of giving each other gifts, why not send much-needed "presents" (food, clothing, toys) to charitable organizations?


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