Time is running out: It’s the fourth quarter, you have no time-outs left and you haven’t even begun your holiday shopping.
It’s time to huddle up. Starting in 2010 you can get organized. You’ll make a budget and commit to staring and finishing your shopping before December 1st. Right now, you just need to get out there and get it done without ending 2009 burdened with the national debt of a South American nation on your credit card. You don’t have time to worry about getting the perfect gift for everyone. Just follow these tips for last-minute shopping on a budget and focus on buying a good gift at the right price.
Make a budget, then cut it by 20%
Sit down and make a list of whom you need to buy for and how much you need to spend on each person. List those people in order of importance so you can allocate your resources accordingly. (Just don’t let anyone see that list.) Tally up the total, then cut it by 20% — and stick to that number. How?
Try to talk certain people into not exchanging gifts this year. Take advantage of every sale you see. (When you give her something from the “clearance” rack it’s another way to say “I love you.”) Keep track of your purchases so you stay aware of how close you are to your stated limit. Staying aware of how much you are spending will help keep you from going in the red.
Plan your shopping excursions
Too often we find ourselves reenacting Death Race 2000 in the mall parking lot trying to find just the right pair of slippers for mom two days before Christmas. Or, you’ll spend hours wandering up and down department store aisles wondering what size sweater your sister wears. Do yourself a favor this year: Make a plan before you go to the mall.
The internet is a great tool for comparison shopping. A quick search will tell you how much the same camcorder costs at Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Target.This lets you go to the malls and be a sniper. You can go from store to store picking off the best gifts at the best prices.
Also, don’t get tempted to sign up for a high-interest credit card at the counter when you go to check out. Sure, they’ll give you a discount on what you buy that day; however, if you don’t pay the bill off as soon as you get it, you’ll find yourself paying more for it over the long-term as the interest starts to accumulate.
We have two more tips for last-minute shopping on a budget next…
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