4 Genius Tips for Saving Money on Christmas Gifts

The Christmas shopping season in America is the most lucrative quarter in the year. Families spend over $900 on Christmas gifts, with individual shoppers spending more than $600, and most people will exceed that number–as The Balance reports, shoppers are prone to overspending during the holidays. But buying gifts and celebrating with your friends and family comes with a huge price tag. According to CNBC, more than 24% of Americans still haven’t paid off last year’s Christmas gifts. That’s almost one-fourth of the country that’s still carrying a huge credit card balance.

The holidays are expensive, and financial strain that lasts into the new year isn’t good. Instead of putting yourself into debt by buying gifts, you can save money. You just need to shop smarter.

Creative tricks can help you give great gifts without risking buyer's remorse when the bills come due in January. The following genius shopping tips can keep you on budget and financially savvy throughout the holiday season.

1. Use Gift Cards to Stick to Your Budget

Setting a present budget is smart, but the problem is it doesn’t always work. The Motley Fool reports that 58% of people fail to stick to their Christmas budget every year.

In order to keep yourself accountable and within your financial means, put your credit card away and shop only with gift cards. Load a prepaid gift card, such as a Visa or Mastercard gift card that can be used at any store, or pick one for a store you’ll be doing all of your shopping at, like Amazon. Whatever is on the card is all you’re allowed to spend–and you can’t go over. Once the money runs out, you won’t be able to buy anything else.

With gift cards, you won’t rack up interest like you would on a credit card, and there won’t be a terrifying January bill to pay. You could save hundreds of dollars by capping your spending with a single gift card.

2. Take Advantage of Price Matching Policies

Smart shoppers know that competition can work in their favor. Many major stores have price matching policies, and these policies can result in huge savings.

Most retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, will match direct competitors’ pricing. If you find the exact same item for less at another store, ask for a price match (some stores also call it a price adjustment). Some retailers, such as Home Depot, will beat the price; others, like Target and Toys R Us, will even match online competitors like Amazon.

Doing a little research on these programs can save you big bucks on holiday shopping. Make sure to comparison shop online before making any purchase, and don’t be afraid to ask retailers if they will price match. Not all advertise that they do!

3. Participate in Cash Back Programs

Did you know there are apps and internet browser extensions that will pay you to shop? Cash back programs like Ebates and Ibotta allow you to earn money on every purchase you make.

All you need to do is download the app or browser extension, and shop online as you normally would. These programs will notify you if there’s a cash back offer for each store you visit, and once you make a purchase you’ll get a percentage of your money back. The offers are always changing, ranging from 2% cash back to as much as 15%.

You can cash out your cash back either every few months or when you earn $20 or more–and you’ll get a check with your earnings in the mail.

4. Make Gift Sets into Multiple Presents

During the holiday season, retailers love to sell prepackaged gift sets. It makes it easy for shoppers to grab an already assembled gift and offers some savings by giving you a better value than if you bought the included items separately. If you want to stick to your budget, you can use these gift sets to cross multiple presents off your shopping list.

Buy these prepackaged gift sets and break them apart, making them into multiple individual presents and stretching your spending money. You’ll pay less and still give quality gifts, without anyone knowing you saved significantly.

Save More Money With Online Research

Christmas is a big holiday celebration, and it’s the time of year to show how much you love your friends and family. While you want to impress your loved ones with thoughtful, quality gifts, there’s no need to break your budget.

Use these genius tips to saving money this Christmas, and don’t forget to always do your research before you shop. The best deals and the latest sales are advertised online, and you can budget better and shop smarter if you prepare ahead of time. Don’t get swept in the spirit of spending–instead, celebrate the holidays with research, a few tricks, and savings on every present.