With careful planning, consumers can make the most of their holidays without straining their budgets. Better Business Bureau and ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions are encouraging consumers to be “calculated gift givers” this holiday season. Here are five tips to help you be more calculated in your holiday planning:
#1 Become an expert on big ticket items
If you are considering a high-dollar purchase for a loved one, it’s important to become an “expert” on the item. This will allow you to make the best decision regarding cost and quality of the product. Maybe one product is made with higher quality materials, or maybe it offers an extra warranty. Whatever the case, you can make the best decision by doing thorough research into the product and its different models. It’s also important to shop with businesses that embody integrity; check out bbb.org to find businesses you can trust.
#2 Give gifts that provide a return
A calculated gift giver understands that gifts should provide a return. In some cases, this return is just the enjoyment of the recipient, but it could be a financial return. Perhaps you can give gifts that help friends and family make money through a side job or hobby. Examples include tools and equipment along with guides, books and other resources. You could also provide younger family members with financial gifts, such as a contribution to a college fund.
#3 Use reward points and online shopping
Look for unique opportunities to save on items. This means regularly checking online for sales and deals and making the most of any rewards points you have accrued. Rewards points, in particular, are a great way to fund gifts, as they aren't really “costing” you. Read the fine print and make sure such gifts are transferable and, if needed, returnable.
#4 Start early
The earlier you start your holiday planning, the better. When consumers are short on time, they have less flexibility and can’t shop around as much. Look for deals early in the year, and don’t be afraid to buy gifts far in advance and store them somewhere at home until the holiday season approaches. Just be sure to ask if gifts purchased ahead can be returned if they don’t work for the recipient.
#5 Create a holiday budget
You don’t want to let your holiday spending get away from you, so it’s important to develop a plan and a firm budget. Use ClearPoint’s holiday planning calculator to see how much you should be spending on gifts this year. The calculator even allows you to list each gift you plan to purchase and account for food, travel, and other expenses.
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NOTE: ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions is a nonprofit organization offering budgeting, housing and credit counseling services in all 50 states. ClearPoint is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and is a BBB Accredited Business and a BBB National Partner.