Suze Orman's 12 secrets to smart holiday shopping if you're on a budget

Suze Orman's 12 Secrets To Smart Vacation Shopping When You Are On A Budget
Even in this odd year (to say the least), the lead up to the holidays looks familiar: your inbox is full of online vacation offers while your bank account looks empty. Maybe emptier than usual thanks to a brutal COVID economy.
In the meantime, your shopping list still looks long enough to compete with Santa's.
All of this may be part of the tradition, but personal finance expert Suze Orman cautions shoppers to avoid the urge to spend too much money looking for gifts and hosiery.
Here are 12 vacation secrets from the popular author and TV personality.
1. Make an unbreakable budget
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"In January we're starting to save money, get out of credit card debt, fund our retirement accounts, and we're doing just fine," Orman said on CNBC.
“Then every year from November you all fall like clockwork into this trap that says, 'I have to buy this gift ... I can't show up at this party and don't have something for everyone. ' " She says.
To manage your vacation shopping budget, Orman decides how much you can afford. Divide this by the number of people you want to shop for to determine the maximum you can spend per person. Then ask the people on your list to write down five items in your price range.
If you can't stand budgeting, find apps that do your budgeting for you.
2. Shop Cyber ​​Monday, not Black Friday
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Christmas sales events may be your best bet for getting great deals on amazing gifts, but don't get carried away.
Orman recommends that you shop on Cyber ​​Monday instead of Black Friday as you will be less distracted by all of the other things you see in stores. If you choose a stationary location, first write down what you will need.
"Write it down on a piece of paper," Orman told ABC News. “That is, if you are shopping, why are you coming to the mall? You have to think about it before you go. "
This year, most retailers are offering online sales both days so you can avoid in-store shopping entirely. Instead of doing the rounds of the mall, download a price check browser extension to compare deals.
3. Avoid using credits
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If you've tried to pay off your debt in the past year, this is not the time to relapse.
Orman says you should always shop where you can - and that means you need to pay off your credit cards right away or leave them at home.
"Challenge yourself not to buy a gift with a credit card," Orman writes on you can afford it. "
If you're afraid of missing out on cashback or reward points, know that credit cards aren't the only way to get them. For example, an app called Fetch can help you make money back by taking a photo of your receipt at several major retailers.
4. Buy small gifts that people really want
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Everyone has unused gifts in the back of their closet, dusty and forgotten. Don't make it worse - buy gifts that people will actually like.
Orman urges you to be careful about what your loved ones want or need (e.g. a specific hair product) instead of charging your credit card with something generic that they'll be giving away again in a few months.
"Chances are, the person you give the gift to won't even remember what you gave them next year, but still you'll be paying that gift for the next five to ten years or more," Orman continues on her blog.
5. Give cash, not gift cards
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Some gift cards are great, especially when you can get them for free. Like an unused scarf or phone case, unwanted gift cards can clutter your drawers.
"In the last year alone, over $ 2 billion was not used on gift cards," Orman told Today in 2013. "If you want to give someone cash, give them cash."
For those of you who have unused gift cards in a drawer, Orman recommends giving them to someone else, donating them to a nonprofit, or selling them online.
6. Talk to loved ones
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Just be honest with each other. If you run out of money or are in debt and cannot afford an expensive gift, talk to your friend or family member about it.
If the other person is going through the same thing, you can avoid the mandatory gift exchanges and save both of you from unnecessary expense.
"Start an open discussion with your loved ones about reducing vacation spending," Orman writes on
"This is the perfect time to break the all-too-common cycle of spending more and more money every year (which many of us honestly don't have) - and forget what the vacation is really about." Orman says consider giving away your time and love instead.
7. Don't let promotions distract you
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It is tempting to take advantage of the great Christmas sales featured in all the flyers and emails. But Orman says you should buy what you need when you can afford it - not just because it's good business.
"Here's the main message: when do you buy what you need and what you can afford?" Orman tells ABC News.
"If we just transform ourselves into a society that buys what we need no matter what we can afford ... we will go on the right track and give each other the greatest gift of all - the gift of financial independence" , she says.
8. Go home made
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Holiday Cheer doesn't have to come from a business.
You can still show appreciation for loved ones by going homemade, baking goodies, or offering your time to babysit or clean. Orman even suggests writing a letter to express your love and gratitude.
"Always remember, the holiday season is all about giving," Orman writes on her blog. "True giving means giving joy, giving time, giving appreciation [and] showing true love for others."
9. Reconsider your nice list
You probably don't have to buy gifts for as many people as you think. Revisit your list of gift recipients and see who to prioritize to fit your budget.
"If you have no money and you buy a gift for someone, they probably also have no money," she writes on her blog.
“When you give them a gift, they feel obliged to give you a gift back. Now, the two of you must write those gifts on your credit cards and you will both be spending money neither of you can afford. "
You don't want to get stuck in a cycle of pointless spending, so focus on the important people in your life. If you're attending a Secret Santa in the Workplace, Orman recommends re-giving away old or unopened gifts in your closet.
10. Check the online shopping portals
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Try shopping portals that give you cashback, discounts or vouchers instead of going straight to a store's website.
"I hope you are taking the time this holiday season to strategically think about how to save as much as you can while shopping while on holiday," Orman writes on her blog.
Orman suggests using websites like Rakuten or to save on saving your vacation tasks.
Also, use other online tools to get all the savings you can.
11. Ask yourself three questions
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Before deciding on a gift, take a moment to think about whether it's really worth the cost.
Orman says you should ask yourself these three questions:
Is it nice?
It is necessary?
Is it true?
"These three gatekeepers can help you slow down before you overspend this holiday season," she advises on her blog.
“A gift purchase that comes from the deepest, purest place in your heart is still a mistake if it is not kind to you. What do I mean by that? If you can't really afford the gift, it's a bad choice, "Orman says. By" true, "she means you should determine whether the gift suits you and your goals.
12. Don't wait until the last minute / Shutterstock
Think about what you want to give to the people in your life so they can get your shopping done early.
You don't want to wait until the day before Christmas Eve when the shelves are empty or buy the first thing you see just so you can put something under your tree.
If you wait until the last minute to buy a gift, “you are buying things that are more expensive, you don't think about them, and there is a chance that you will buy things that the person you are going to give doesn't want to once, ”Orman explained on CNBC.

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