Holiday shopping is one of the easiest ways to throw your budget out the window.
Between your kids, friends, colleagues, neighbors and more, your gift list can easily become longer than what your wallet can handle.
With rising interest rates, credit card debt is getting more expensive to carry. Cutting back on your gift list this year will prevent you from starting 2019 in a mountain of expensive debt.
Here are eight ways to cut down on your holiday gift list and save money this year.
1. Set gift expectations with family and friends
The sooner you outline gift expectations with family and friends, the better. Setting boundaries is key to ensuring no one outspends anyone, and it can help ease pressure to purchase over-the-top gifts.
“Perhaps this year, your family only buys gifts for the kids instead of including adults,” says consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch. “When it comes to co-workers or friends, you can set up an ornament exchange or white elephant gift exchange to keep the spirit of the holidays alive without breaking the bank and buying multiple gifts for each person.”
2. Downgrade your budget
Jodi RR Smith, author and etiquette consultant, recommends cutting back on your per-person budget to make holiday shopping more reasonable. To spend less, Smith recommends getting creative with gift ideas.
“Double down on your giving and only purchase gifts that are also donations to charitable organizations,” Smith says. “(Or) instead of buying each one of your extended family members a gift, give gifts per family.”
Examples of family gifts include family memberships to local museums or theme parks. Some charitable organizations send gifts after accepting donations, which can then be gifted to the honorary donors.
3. Write a list
Do you ever go grocery shopping without a list? Without a solid plan in place, it’s easy to end up purchasing food you don’t need — and the same concept goes for gift shopping.
Before even stepping foot in the store, create a list of what you want to buy and don’t venture outside of those purchases. Plus, writing a list and seeing how each purchase will add up will help you determine if you’re planning to buy too many gifts. Keep in mind who is most important and create a list that follows suit.
4. Join a Secret Santa exchange
What’s more fun than a Secret Santa exchange? Not only does it significantly cut down the amount of items to buy, these exchanges usually come with spending limits.
Woroch suggests using Elfster, a fun online service that makes setting up gift exchanges a breeze.
5. Consider going in on a group gift
Woroch says group gifts are a great strategy for cutting back on cost and trimming your gift list. Consider splitting the cost of a gift for your boss with a co-worker. Or, for larger purchases (think: recent high school graduates going to college who need dorm supplies) split the total cost with family members or friends.
An additional perk of group gifts? Woroch says covering the total cost with a rewards credit card can help you rack up some extra points — just make sure your friends pay you back after.
6. Opt for meaningful gifts
Some of the best gifts don’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, there are plenty of DIY gifts that are just as meaningful. Search Pinterest or other craft sites for ideas of special gifts that are cheap or free. Handmade gifts can go a much longer way than expensive ones.
Also, choosing to give DIY-only gifts will take up a bit more time than one-click shopping on Amazon. Investing more time to create gifts will keep your list short — you probably won’t have time to make something for every single person you know.
7. Get smart with coupons and promos
Keeping an eye out for promotions like buy-one get-one on items you can gift is a great strategy for stretching your dollar the furthest during holiday shopping.
If you do plan on gifting the same item to multiple people, make sure they aren’t both present while opening their gifts.
8. Resist impulse purchases on ‘deals’
Just because you’ve spotted a great deal at a department store doesn’t mean you should jump on the purchase.
Often, seeing steep discounts can lure shoppers to making purchases they weren’t initially planning on making, known as “impulse shopping.” Instead, stick to your original shopping list to avoid breaking your budget.