A Frugal Guide to Last Minute Holiday Shopping


Last minute shoppers can be savvy savers too!

Last minute shoppers can be savvy savers too!

With the holiday season upon us, it’s hard not to let the panic set in—especially if your loved ones have their hearts set on specific, pricey gifts.

Fear not: striking a balance between the frugality of Scrooge and the generosity of Santa is still possible for last-minute shoppers, ensuring everyone gets their holiday wish without dipping into your savings.

Start with a budget. We’ve all heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: deciding how much you can afford to spend before you shop will prevent spontaneous purchases and post-holiday credit card blues.

Buy used. Savvy shoppers know to check thrift stores and online classifieds for deals on stocking stuffers and smaller gifts. Gently used clothes, shoes, board games and toys can be found for as little as $2 each, stretching your budget for the rest of the items on your list.

Embrace the group gift: Don’t be shy about asking family members to go in together on one big gift on your list. Our far-away relatives are always relieved to contribute to something special we really need or want, versus guessing about what styles the kids are wearing, or what toys they already have.

Buy it on Boxing Day: For gifts like electronics, furniture and appliances, consider giving an IOU to take advantage of Boxing Day discounts. Wrap your IOU up nesting style (i.e, put a small gift in a small box, put that box inside a bigger box and that bigger box in a larger box, etc…you get the idea) or hide it in the tree, for a fun way to give that special gift and save your money.

Make saving your New Year’s resolution. Boxing Week is an excellent time to get into the habit of shopping ahead to save time and money on future gift-giving occasions. And starting a “master wish list” in January on your phone, or on a notepad in your bag, will make finding those gifts on sale, off the clearance rack, from garage sales or your local thrift store even easier all year long.

By the time the holidays roll around again, you’ll be the envy of any Scrooge or Santa: every item crossed off your list early, and plenty of money left in the bank too.

Carmen Kinniburgh

Carmen Kinniburgh is a freelance writer and editor exploring topics and ideas about parenting and families, Canadian science and research, health and medicine, as well as travel and lifestyle. Born and raised in Alberta, Carmen has also lived in Southern Ontario and Manitoba, where she worked in professional communications for a university and a national health charity. Currently living in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she gets all her best ideas and insights for Parentwise from her own three delightfully precocious children.

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