Save Money with a Holiday Shopping Game Plan

We’re are now just about a month away from the start of yet another holiday shopping season. Although it might seem like plenty of time, rest assured that Black Friday will be here before you know and then — suddenly — it’s Chrismas Eve. That’s why now is the time to start making your plans.

As we all know, waiting until the last minute to do your gift shopping is a surefire way to get stressed out. Similarly heading out to do your shopping without a budget or game plan is a recipe for financial disaster. Instead here are a few courses of action to take before the holidays commence.

Make your list, check it twice, and create a budget

Before you even think about setting foot in a mall to buy gifts there are two things you need: a list of who you’re shopping for and a budget for each person’s gift(s). The first step toward preparing these items is to make a master list of everyone you will need to buy for. Think long and hard about it because once you finalize the list no additions are allowed. In fact, if you really want to save money, you may want to make a couple of calls to friends/family and make mutual agreements to forgo gifts this year. 

With your list compiled it’s time to figure out how much you can afford to spend on gifts and determine how to divide up that allotment. On your first pass, go down your list and put how much you’d ideally like to spend on each person and then total those numbers up. If your grand total is too high you can either trim back how much you spend on each person or cut people off of the list entirely (again, maybe make some phone calls).

Pick your presents

Admittedly there may be times when inspiration on what to get someone won’t hit you until you see it. However knowing what you want to get people before you go shopping will allow you do some necessary research. Even if you don’t intend on buying from Amazon or another e-retailer, starting your search online is usually the best way to go. The goal here is to get an idea of what a good price for each item is and so you don’t overspend. 

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to set target prices for all of the items on your list. Basically, if an item hits or falls below that price, then you can buy it. Otherwise it’s back to the drawing board — you’ve got a budget to stick to!

Choose a card

Another smart way to save money on your shopping is to predetermine which credit card to use in order to get the most rewards. In addition to the bonus categories that some cards offer you should also check your card issuer’s website to see if they have any other special deals from retailers that you can activate. Lastly keep in mind that maintaining a credit utilization rate of under 30% on each of your cards is ideal so don’t put everything on one card unless you can make a mid-cycle payment to compensate.


The holiday season is approaching much faster than you may think. Now’s the time to start thinking about the gifts you’ll need to buy and creating a holiday budget to stick to. Not only will doing so save you stress before the holidays but will also prevent you from hitting the roof when your January statements arrive. 

Author

Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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