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Frugal Gift Giving

The holidays are no longer quickly approaching - they're officially here! It's time to start figuring out who you plan to buy for and what that person might enjoy receiving as a gift this Christmas. This frugal teacher hopes that you've already started this process, even if only barely. If not, there's no time like the present (pun intended)! Grab your phone if you're techy and a piece of paper and a pencil if you're more old-school and start making a list. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but starting with a general list of people you know you'll be buying for this holiday season is a good starting point. If you do choose to use your phone, store your list in your notes so you can use it as a reference for next year. There are some free apps that make this process easy. My favorite is called the Christmas Gift List Tracker app because of its long list of free features and because it has really good reviews. I'm more of a store-it-in-the-notes-on-my-phone kind of person, but mostly because that's where I store all sorts of lists already. Are you ready for some frugal gift-giving tips? Here are my top 4:

  1. Make a list. You really need to narrow down the list of people you plan to buy for before doing anything else. Then you can set a total, overall budget for Christmas gifts so you don't overspend. After you do those two things, the only thing left to do before going to the store is to determine how much you plan to spend on each person. Making a list accomplishes all of these steps, whether it's handwritten, on a note on your phone, or in an app. Don't forget to take your list with you (which is another reason having it saved on your phone is so handy).

  2. Draw names. Do you have a big family? Do you get overwhelmed buying gifts for aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends, neighbors, and so on? Talk your family into drawing names! This is a huge money saver and was a real game-changer when my family started doing it many years ago. We poll our family and see who wants to participate with the understanding that they must follow two strict rules. One, you only buy for the person whose name you drew. Period. Two, you can't spend more than $30. We draw names on Thanksgiving Day every year and exchange the gifts at a family get-together on Christmas Eve. Easy! Not only does it save us all hundreds of dollars, but it also reduces the stress that can often come with trying to buy the right gift for so many people. This is a great idea for co-workers to do, too. Try it out this year and you'll see how much easier and cheaper it is for everyone.

  3. Shop the sales. Black Friday is only a few days away! This day used to be pretty exciting and many of us remember getting up super early to go shop the sales. Things have changed over the last few years as sales now start well before Black Friday and so much shopping is done online now. This doesn't mean you can't be a frugal, savvy shopper. Watch the sales ads for items on your list and grab them at their lowest price. If you haven't discovered camelcamelcamel yet, you are missing out. This simplistic website allows you to catch items on Amazon when they are at their absolute lowest price by sending you an email alert. The best part is that it's totally free to use and you set the dollar amount. I use it all year long for things I don't need right away and don't mind waiting to buy like coffee, makeup, and even lightbulbs. It would be smart to use it for Christmas shopping if you know which items on Amazon you want to buy because all you really have to do is copy and paste the link for the item to camelcamelcamel. Then just keep an eye on your email and order when the price is at the dollar amount you set.

  4. Buy gift cards. If you are truly stuck and aren't sure what to buy someone on your list, get a gift card. There are so many stores and restaurants that offer gift cards that appeal to a wide range of people. You can save some money by buying gift cards at Sam's Club. You can usually buy them for 10-20% off or more. You can join Sam's Club right now for only $20 (it's usually $50). This offer is good until January 31, 2024, but you must be a first-time member and agree to auto-renew. If you do take advantage of this deal, don't forget to ask for your complimentary second membership card.

By following these frugal gift-giving tips, you can buy for most people on your list without breaking the bank. Stick to your list and try to avoid impulse purchases. Remember that a thoughtful gift is better than an expensive gift.


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