Christmas is right around the corner. Can you believe it? Even if you've waited until the last minute to wrap up your shopping, you don't have to overspend.
1. Pare your list
Since you're down to the wire, now is not the time to splurge on Christmas gifts because, for many items, the best holiday prices have come and gone.
Instead, narrow your list to include only those individuals you definitely want to give a gift. It may be very tempting to pick up an adorable doll for the neighbor's toddler or a gift card for your favorite co-worker, but doing so can quickly cause your spending to spiral out of control, leaving a limited budget for those who matter most or, even worse, a substantial amount of newly acquired credit card debt.
And, sorry to break it to you, but it is best if you leave on the shelf all of those items you would love to have for yourself. Remember, you're trying to save money.
2. Set a time limit
Once you have the final list in hand, determine a reasonable amount of time to pick up those gifts. Once you begin shopping, set an alarm on your phone or other electronic device and refer to it frequently to keep you on track.
If you're shopping with time constraints, there will be limited idle time to spend money on unnecessary items.
3. Pack your own snacks
Before heading out, fill up on your favorite meal or snacks within the comfort of your own home, or take some snacks and a drink with you. The coffee shop in the mall may be filled with mouth-watering treats and tasty beverages, but before you know it, you will have spent money that could have otherwise been allocated to your holiday gift fund.
4. Comparison shop
Use your smartphone or any other electronic device that can access the Internet to locate the best deals available at retailers nationwide, as well as online coupons. Even if you find an irresistible offer online, you may be able to visit a brick-and-mortar store and persuade the manager to match or even beat the price. You know how to haggle, don't you?
Do you have any brand-new items sitting around the house? Perhaps you've received a few gifts in the past on special occasions that you have no use for? These make perfect candidates for regifting.
Before you dust them off, be sure you're aware of who gave the gifts to you so they don't end up in the hands of the original purchasers.
6. Put your creative talents to use
If you have a little bit of time to spare, try your hand at some arts and crafts. Not sure where to start? Pinterest is what I like to call the "creativity hub" as it offers a number of do-it-yourself project ideas along with instructions on how to create the perfect gift for your colleague or loved one at little or no cost to you.
Consider perusing the classifieds on Craigslist. Items offered on the site include furniture and vehicles and everything in between. In some instances, items are offered free of charge to the first individual to respond to the ad. It may be a stretch, but one seller's trash may just be the treasure, or gift, that you're searching for.
8. Shop online
Going this route can save you a ton of time and money. Not only will you avoid the crowded stores, but you will also be able to sort items by price and compare prices from various retailers to get the best deal on what you are looking for. This chart from our friends at DealNews identifies the regular and expedited shipping deadlines of popular retailers to have your gift arrive on time. There's still time, but you have to act quickly.
9. Purchase gift cards from retailers with promotional offers
Many retailers and restaurants offer gift cards at a reduced rate as part of their holiday promotional offers. I did a bit of last-minute shopping at a local Japanese steakhouse offering a free $25 gift card with the purchase of $100 or more in gift cards. About.com has a list of gift card offers from popular stores and restaurants.
10. Let them choose
Still not sure what to purchase for those last few people on your list? Giftly allows you to give a specified sum of money, along with a suggestion on how to use it. In return, the recipient must let you know how the funds were spent.
These are just a few ways to save money while doing a little last-minute shopping. If you have any cost-cutting tips, share them in the comments below!