Guest Author - Reshma Vyas
Practicality and frugality are the themes for this holiday season. The value of thrift is taking on an increased emphasis this holiday season for many consumers fraught with worries about job security, unemployment and rising health care costs as well as the larger economic uncertainty regarding the housing sector and the ensuing volatility of the stock market. For many holiday shoppers, the primary focus is on purchasing gifts that are geared more towards necessities rather than luxuries. It is also worth noting that a significant number of consumers still carry credit card debt from holiday gifts purchased the previous year! Therefore, it is hardly surprising that many families plan to dramatically scale back on their holiday spending this season.
1. Avoid layaway as it will only encourage you to spend more and incur additional debt.
2. Do thorough research in terms of comparison shopping, most of which can be done online. Make certain that you understand the retailer’s return policy (this can save both money and frustration later on!). In the frenetic rush of shopping, many consumers often overlook the return policy of the store or vendor in question. Sign up for e-mail alerts from your favorite retailers.
3. Look for unadvertised specials as these can offer additional savings.
4. Utilize the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday”) for “field research.” Do not be in a panic mode to purchase gifts as there will be plenty of bargains in December. Avoid shopping excursions to malls during peak hours and try to shop weekdays rather than weekends.
5. Peruse the websites of your favorite specialty retailers and mail-order vendors. They may offer free or discounted shipping, coupons and exclusive savings incentives for online purchases.
6. Try to do price matching whenever possible.
7. Strive to be more disciplined in terms of sticking to your budget and price limits. Stocking stuffers can encompass a wide range of necessities such as batteries, camera accessories, flash drives, stamps, etc. Avoid the most “popular” gift of the season and trendy gifts in general as they are more expensive.
8. Take your circulars and coupons to stores. In order to make the most of door buster sales, do your preparation in advance. Make a list of items that interest you and jot down ideas for “backup” gifts.
Thrifty Holiday Gift Ideas – Homemade And Vintage
Perhaps, this holiday season, more so than any other in recent years, many families and individuals are becoming increasingly drawn to the idea of exchanging homemade gifts. In fact, one can even do a gift exchange without spending any money at all!
1. Hold a “white elephant” gift swap to exchange items of a whimsical or humorous nature.
2. Consider a vintage toy or clothing gift swap. Baby boomers love to collect their childhood. How many of us have old toys, board games, sports and entertainment memorabilia and clothing stuffed in trunks and closets? Consider exchanging vintage leather or denim clothing with friends or family. Even old high school varsity jackets can be traded for fun.
3. There are many inexpensive and easy holiday gifts one can make with limited materials and time. Even a beginner can make beaded jewelry such as earrings or a simple brooch from various materials consisting of fabric, beads and ribbons. Other ideas: a decorative box (the box can be purchased at a crafts supply store), an evening purse; a monogrammed set of bath towels, dinner napkins or handkerchiefs; picture frame; a paperweight; rock art; scrapbook or memory book; or even a holiday card which includes a poem you have written or heirloom family recipe. Consider making your own wrapping paper with paint, photographs and stamps.
Make a donation in the name of a family member or friend. Donate a toy or handmade gift such as a sweater or blanket to charity.