The holiday season can be pricey in spite of seemingly every store in town loudly proclaiming massive sales and discounts. It’s important to balance the desire for that perfect Christmas gift with the need to be prudent with your finances. Even if you can afford to spend more money than intended, doing so can end up causing problems in the long run. Here are some ideas to help make your holiday gift shopping a more manageable experience.
Decide on Gifts and the Shopping Budget Beforehand
Going into a store without knowing what you want to buy can be hazardous to your savings, especially since the festive season is a time for aggressive sales tactics and marketing. Plan out as many purchases in advance and go into the store with your shopping budget firmly in mind. If you don’t know exactly what you want to get someone, it’s still okay to use browsing to get ideas—just be sure to set a firm upper limit on your spending and stand by it. If necessary, withdraw your budgeted amount as cash and leave the credit and debit cards at home so you can stick to the plan.
Buy in Bulk
A good money-saving technique is to buy in bulk, which for holiday gift shopping means those “buy one, get one” deals. Taking advantage of these offers can be a good way to cover multiple people on your list at once, but take care not to get carried away. Remember that the ostensibly “free” item is still part of another purchase. It may help if you mentally translate “buy one, get one free” into “buy two at 50% off” so you can keep things in perspective.
Take a DIY Approach
Never underestimate the effectiveness of an earnest, handmade gift. Taking the time to make something personal for someone else is always appreciated and can be meaningful in ways that store-bought items can’t replicate. Here are some homemade gift ideas you can consider for friends and family:
It’s possible to turn a hardcover book into a clever hideaway. Take a hardcover book at least three inches thick and wrap the cover in plastic to protect it while you work. Set the book on its side and mix together a tablespoon of glue with an equal amount of water in a small container. Use a paintbrush to slowly coat the side of the book (the pages part opposite the spine) with glue. Wipe up any spills and put something heavy on top to hold the pages together as the glue dries overnight. Then, open the book and use a ruler to mark out a rectangle guide, followed by cutting out the space. Coat the sides of the space with glue and repeat the weigh-and-sit step. Viola!
Making a book of personal coupons can be a thoughtful way to offer yourself to a friend or family member. Possible ideas for coupons include back rubs, running specific errands, laundry, cooking lessons, quiet time, or not protesting over movie choices.
Movie Night or Game Night
This can be a good gift idea for a special someone or a set of friends who aren’t always able to meet up as a group. Whip up some homemade snacks, fire up the DVD player or Netflix, bust out the board games or fire up the consoles, and let everyone enjoy a night of fun, food, and laughter.
Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a chef or handy with a spatula, it’s still possible to bake up some thoughtful treats for the people you care about. The Internet is full of delicious recipes for cookies, brownies, and cakes, so you can pick the one that suits your skills and your recipients’ tastes. There’s nothing wrong with getting store-bought batter, either!
LUSO Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative dedicated to providing members with quality financial services and products. We at LUSO pride ourselves on serving the financial needs of our members and helping them save for the special occasions in life. Our services are available in Ludlow, Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, and Hampden County, Massachusetts.
Feel free to contact our Ludlow branch toll free at 1-844-LUSO-FCU or our Wilbraham branch at 1-800-808-5876.