People who are trying to stay within their holiday budgets should have a plan before they begin shopping.

People who are trying to stay within their holiday budgets should have a plan before they begin shopping. Write a list of the people you are planning to shop for and decide how much you want to spend on each gift. Then, it’s time to look for gifts. Here are some tips for sticking to your budget during your holiday shopping.

Start Early

Bankrate recommends that people start their holiday shopping early, so set a goal, like aiming to have your shopping finished by December 1st. This way you aren’t under pressure to buy something immediately, and you can find good deals on gifts. If you feel like you’re running out of time, you’re more likely to give in and buy something over your budget just to finish your shopping.

Compare Prices Online

Before you purchase an item in a retail store, check prices online. You may be able to find it for less at a different store or by ordering it from a website. Real Simple suggests reading online reviews to see how other customers liked a product. You may find there’s another product of better quality. Doing research before you buy helps you select gifts the recipients will enjoy, and for the right price.

Look for Free Gift Wrap

ABC News recommends that shoppers ask for free gift wrap when it’s available. This service can save you money on wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and other supplies. It can also save you time because you won’t have to assemble and do all the wrapping yourself before the holidays.

Limit Borrowing

Kiplinger suggests people pay in cash to make sure they follow their holiday budgets. If you’re using cash, you’re aware of how much you spend, and you’re restricted to spending money you already have. Another option is to use a debit card; this allows you to avoid the temptations of borrowing on credit. However, if you do choose to pay with a credit card, use the card with the lowest interest rate available to you. Look at the terms of all your credit cards to find out which one will be the least costly before deciding how to pay.

Of course, these tips are only advice, and every person’s financial situation is different. But in general, planning and researching before you shop is helpful if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

Sarah Brodsky

About the AuthorSarah Brodsky

Sarah Brodsky writes about economics, personal finance, religion, and culture. She covers credit counseling, debt, and personal finance for Investopedia and the CESI Financial blog and has contributed work on Judaism and culture to the Jewish Daily Forward's Sisterhood blog. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Free Beacon, the St. Louis Business Journal, Info Tech & Telecom News, the Springfield News-Leader, Edspresso.com, School Reform News, and other publications. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Chicago.