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Give And Let Give: How You Can Give And Still Save This Holiday Season

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Tis the season to spend, spend, spend...but most of us need to save, save, save. And, according to experts there's a way to enjoy the holidays without giving the farm away.

Here are a few tips for saving this holiday season.

1. Trim your gift list: Besides the obvious of exchanging gifts with less people, you can also consolidate your list by giving combination gifts. Think of gifts for the home family such as movies or a gift basket of goodies. Or you can do one gift, such as a combo gift (like monogrammed stationery) for mom and dad and another, such as a board or computer game for the kids.

2. Give from the heart...and remember "home" is where the heart is: Create your own gifts such as a coupon for babysitting services or a few healthy home-baked treats you can put in a gift basket. If your good at sewing you can make your own (green) "shopping bags, pot holders, blankets etc. Also think about giving practical gifts such as pre-addressed and stamped envelopes for young and older adults, a framed family photo, or a tax-deductible contribution to a special charity.

3. Make and stick to a budget: Once you decide who to put on your gift list and whether you want to give out individual or combined gifts set a specific amount for each person or family and make sure NOT to go over budget. Keep a list of what you've purchased, for whom, and how much each gift cost, and how much you've spent. This will put some reality on this season of "magic" and help you stay within budget and within reason. Also remember...dollar stores have many items that can make great gifts or additions to gift baskets....think tissues with some towels. Water glasses with some coasters...if you use your imagination, the options are endless.

4. Get an early start: The longer you wait the fewer options you'll have and the more you'll pay for the items and/or services you want to give. Remember, that gift giving season is just around the corner...so keep an eye out for options every time you go out shopping. Picking up a few gifts a little at a time will help save time, energy, and money....especially if you plan on taking advantage of mail order bargains or items being phased out for the season or end of the year.

5. Become a smart shopper: Besides looking for bargains, sales and clipping coupons, which can add up to some serious savings, look for value-items such as luggage, electronics, etc, that are being offered at discounts. Do your research by reading up on reviews so you won't be tempted to opt for more expensive alternatives just because they are newer to the market.

6. Get the scoop on returns: Make sure you, or the gift recipient CAN return the gift...and find out how long you or they have to make that return. Remember lots of holiday help are temps and they may not know all the specifics of your holiday purchases...so make it a priority to find out. It's also a good idea to get a gift receipt and include it with each gift.

7. Get smart about extended warranties: While having a safety net for some products is definitely a perk it's probably best not to purchase an extended warranty on most items. In most cases they duplicate the already existing warranty and are just a way for the store and company to make more money with little added value to you.

8. Don't let the bills pile up: It's best to pay cash this way you can avoid lingering and outstanding debt. However, sometimes it makes sense to use a store's credit card for extra points and/or savings. Just make sure you have money in the bank to cover your purchases....and make sure to pay credit card bills right away, it's the best way to avoid added interest charges and digging yourself deeper in debt.

9. Credit Card Smarts: Look for low-interest cards that you can transfer your credit card balance to and save yourself some extra cash (perhaps for next year's holidays). Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) however that you don't open and close too many accounts because you can lower your credit score and find yourself in some financial turmoil or trouble.

Long Island Money & Careers Articles > Give And Let Give: How You Can Give And Still Save This Holiday Season

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