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Money Saving Tips for Last Minute Holiday Shopping

Most people have finished their Christmas shopping done by now. Yet, it is a busy season and some last-minute shoppers still have work to do. Gathering gifts for family members and friends at the last minute is challenging, but don’t despair.

The following are some quick money-saving tips for that last round of shopping when money is tight:

Visit the Clearance Rack

The Christmas holiday is about making other people happy, which does not necessarily mean that the giver has to purchase the most expensive gifts. What matters most is finding gifts that make people smile. Try scouring clearance racks to find a genuine gift for each person left on your list. Stores often carry trinkets, keepsakes and symbolic jewelry that one may find meaningful, as well.

Cut or Maneuver a Few of the Bills

One thing a gift giver can do to save money for last minute shopping is cut one or several bills. For example, the one can remove some of the premium channels from cable service or downsize cellular plan features. The change will provide extra funds for last minute shopping, and he or she can revert the features back at another time. Alternatively, one can request a bill payment delay or extension to allow some cash for shopping.

Use a Portion of Your Last Check for Shopping

A gift giver can reserve some of his or her last pre-holiday paycheck and set it aside for shopping. Perhaps for one month one could defer a retirement or savings plan contribution to make someone’s Christmas special.

Make Some Unique Artistic Gifts

Another idea for saving money for last minute shopping is making artistic gifts. Arts and crafts stores carry everything one needs to make blankets, scarves and other homemade items. Additionally, a shopper can create a unique picture frame and then fill it with a memento that means something special to the receiver.

It is never too late to shop for Christmas. In “The Christmas Story, Ebenezer Scrooge shops at the last minute. Any giver can accomplish the same with unique and special gifts without breaking the bank.

Basic Approach: The New Year allows you to smartly start over and fix finances

Everyone is going to have some sort of New Year's Resolution.

Losing weight, getting a better job or finding that special someone all rank fairly high on the list of promises you'll make to yourself as December turns into January.

Equally important for the masses is getting yourself back on track financially on a number of levels: saving money, spending less, planning for retirement or actually piecing together a budget you'll adhere to for more than a month.

Far too often as it relates to money, people tend to complicate what actually can be whittled down to something quite simple: spend less than what you make.

As rudimentary as that principle sounds, you'd be surprised to hear just how many stories and, to a degree, excuses people come up with to explain why that can't follow that protocol to ensure financial security and freedom from debt.

It starts with a budget, plain and simple. More than 50% of the population don't have a budget or can tell you exactly how much money is going out the door on a monthly basis in terms of expenses. Sure, they know their mainstays such as homes, cars and credit card bills, but they fail to capture the information that is equally important and easily missed: fuel, clothing, entertainment and dining out at restaurants.

Those who are truly adept at budgeting and want to reverse their fortunes for the new year go as far as to allot a certain amount of money for something as incidental as coffee or water that they purchase daily. Laughable as that may seem, they'll almost always stick with that plan and have the right amount of money leftover at the end of the month that they are expecting.

In addition to budgeting, don't be afraid to find out if you have raise in the future by asking your boss at the right moment. You also want to make sure your itemize your debt and start looking long and hard at the ones with the highest rates or that are dangerously close to your credit limit (think credit card balance of $4,900 with a limit of $5,000).

All of what you plan is a moot point if you don't set the goals and ultimately track how you're doing. Writing out a budget means little if you don't “audit” yourself after three months to see just how well you're doing with it. Yes, this means you'll be putting in a lot of proverbial leg work work, but the end result should justify your actions.

You'll be one step closer to being out of debt but more so finding a balance financially that was sorely lacking.

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