Make room for the holidays in your budget
Quick tips to help you save money and ensure the holiday season is truly bright.
December 1, 2012 by Mark Dye
The holiday season is approaching and, if you're like me, you want to get what people want without spending a lot. Thankfully, there are ways you can save money no matter who is on your list, allowing you to make the season bright without bah-humbugging your budget.
Sites like Amazon, Craig's List, and Froogle are all well known, but there are a few other sites you should also check:
- Freecycle.org— The premise is simple: people from around the country list items they no longer want and are willing to get rid of for free. The way it works is also simple: go to the site, enter your city and state, and find a list of local Freecycle groups and links to those groups' sites. Just click the links and start shopping, noting that you will need to sign up if you find something you want (again, it’s free).
- Fatwallet.com—This free-to-join coupon and rebate site might even give you money back for online purchases (naturally, some restrictions and rules apply).
- Stoorz.com—Another online coupon site, but Stoorz requires no registration. Just click on the links or enter the coupon code they provide.
Of course, keep your privacy in mind, make sure the site is secure, and listen to your instincts—if something doesn't seem right, go somewhere else.
While the quality of items at thrift stores can vary greatly from store to store—and even day to day—you can save tons of money. The keys to good thrift store shopping are:
- Being flexible—If you have a general idea of what you’re looking for (e.g. a book or DVD), or are just willing to look around until something catches your eye, you'll have more success.
- Being patient—The best way to shop a thrift store is repeatedly. Going once or more a week increases your chances of finding what you want.
- Being open minded—Don’t think all they have is junk no one else wants, as I’ve found brand new electronics and clothes for our son at huge discounts.
Use your options
A few other things to try include:
- Asking for a discount—Being a service member or military spouse can get you 10 to 30 percent off.
- Getting a group gift—Having friends and family pitch in for a larger gift allows everyone to buy something they couldn’t afford by themselves.
- Doing something—Offering to paint or do yard work for an older family member, having children make something, or babysitting for an evening are ways you can make someone’s holidays special without spending anything more than time.
The old adage of "It's not the gift but the thought that counts" may seem cliché, but it's the attitude you need to have when money is tight. After all, very few people will be disappointed with a gift that is thoughtful, no matter the price.
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