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5 Do’s & Dont’s Of Holiday Shopping

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5 Do’s & Dont’s Of Holiday Shopping

Holiday season is upon us and that means two things, a bigger waistline and a smaller wallet. Whether we’re travelling, partying or buying gifts for family, friends and “more-than-friends”, it’s the most expensive season of the year.

With so much enthusiasm for the holidays, the average person expects to spend upwards of $805 during the holiday season with $460 spent on gifts for family members, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Survey. But just because we’re willing to spend, doesn’t mean we should spend carelessly. Here are a few tips on the do’s and dont’s of holiday shopping, to stretch your dollars even further.

The 5 Holiday Shopping Do’s:

1. Make a Budget

Before you head to the mall, or Amazon, first establish your total budget for the holidays. Then, write a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for. Now, divide the number of gifts into your total budget, and that will tell you how much you have to spend per person. For example, if you have a total budget of $500, and are buying gifts for 10 people, that’s $50 a person. Now you may decide to spend more on certain people over others, that’s fine, just make sure to then reduce your budget for the others appropriately.

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2. Be Opportunistic

Give yourself some flexiblity. Start shopping early enough to take advantage of deals, like Black Friday. Do research online, and price shop. Also use online shopping apps like PriceGrabber.com, that let you compare prices across different retailers and automatically send you notices of price drops for your target gifts. Doing all your shopping on one day, in one mall, can really limit your savings opportunities.

3. Do The Double Discount Dip

You know the 15% discount or $30 credit you get for opening up a new credit card at the point of sale? Those could add up to significant savings, especially when their combined with items which are already on sale! While most folks will tell you to avoid them like the plague, the fact is, if you pay off the cards right away, it’s found money. Just make sure you have the discipline to pay off your balance completely in the first month, if you can’t trust yourself take a pass on this strategy.

4. Get Free Shipping

There’s no sense spending the time to find a 20% discount on a $50 item, if you’re going to be charged $17 in shipping. Always make sure to shop on sites that offer free shipping, and if there are minimums, see if it makes sense to bundle a few gifts together to get the discount. Also make sure you shop early enough so you don’t have to spend extra on shipping to get it delivered in 2 business days.

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5. Get Rewarded

This is one of the seasons where you’ll be spending the most throughout the year. Get rewarded for it and use a rewards credit card for all your purchases. Whether you want to use a cash back credit card or travel rewards card is up to you, but used properly you should get between 2%-5% in earnings from a premium credit card and 1% with a no fee rewards card. Using your credit card may also give you purchases assurance, protecting you from damage or theft for 90 days after your purchase.

The 5 Holiday Shopping Dont’s

1. Avoid Spending More Than You Have

The holidays are supposed to be festive occasions. Putting yourself into debt to buy someone a gift is no one’s idea of fun. Stick to your budget. The people you’re buying gifts for are presumably friends and family – they don’t want to enrich they’re lives at your expense. If they do, find some new friends.

2. Don’t Be Cheap, Be Frugal

There’s a difference between being cheap and frugal. Being frugal means you’ll do the work to find the cheapest price for an item. Being cheap means you’re willing to sacrifice quality for price and get a poorer quality item, just because it’s cheaper.

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3. Don’t Buy It, If You Can Make It

I don’t know about you, but my most memorable gifts have always been the ones that were made for me, like a blanket knitted by my grandmother. While that may be unrealistic for many modern adults, it’s certainly something we can ask of our kids. Instead of giving them money to buy us something, why don’t we ask them to give us a non-monetary gift, like a painting, a video, a hand written card, a photo album of their favourite family pictures, etc…

4. Be Wary Of The Non-Returnable

Getting items on sale can be dicey, since many are final sales. Unless you’re positive it won’t be returned, you may want to hold off on the purchase. A final sale means you cannot return or exchange the gift. Spending all that money, only to find out you bought the wrong sized shirt, or a video game your nephew already has, is frustrating. So either avoid non-returnable items, or make doubly sure it’s the right gift.

5. Don’t Pay For Return Shipping

Let’s face it, not every gift is a success. However, with so many purchases now made online, returning items is more common and trickier than ever. Make sure whoever you buy from online, does not charge you a shipping cost for returning or exchanging items – this is especially true of clothing, where sizing is so uncertain. Finding retailers like Walmart, Zappos, LL Bean & Nordstrom that offer free returns is essential.

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The holidays are meant to be fun. Your kindness shouldn’t be a financial burden. Set yourself a budget and do the best you can within your means. Most of all, use the time off during your holidays to create unforgettable moments with friends, family and loved ones! Time well spent is the most precious gift of all.

Featured photo credit: Women with high heels and shopping bags – Three girls sitting on stairs and chatting after buying presents ,oneinchpunch via shutterstock.com

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

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7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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