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The Holiday Shopping Season is Here Again! (and I am the Scrooge)

Many people get excited during this time of year. It is the perfect excuse to shop! I cannot say I share their enthusiasm. I have been called a Scrooge on more than one occasion and that is okay. I do not like shopping during “normal business hours” so adding Black Friday deals, (even more) crowds, and longer lines is why I always choose to stay home during the madness. Cyber Monday is more up my alley. I am not judging anyone who enjoys the store chaos, but might I provide some pointers if you are planning to 'shop ’til you drop'?

1. Have a Budget in Mind.

It is easy to see SALE signs everywhere and think you are getting a bargain (you probably are), but buying several things on sale (just because they are cheap) is not much different than buying a few things you need at retail. Ask yourself, “do I really need this, or will someone really want this?”. Each year, credit cards are maxed out and everyone is trying to one up each other for the best gift, but do not fall into this fallacy. Take a look at what you can reasonably spend without applying for store credit cards or breaking the bank (and your credit limit).

2. Plan Ahead.

Make a list. And check it twice! Ideally, we would want to make a list (or even buy) throughout the year to avoid the last minute stress of holiday shopping. If not, take some time to determine who you will buy for and then jot down some ideas. Perhaps this year, your cousin (twice removed) is off the list. People know if you spend time or thought into their gift. That’s why gift cards are everyone's fallback. If you want to show someone you appreciate them, put some thought behind their gift… and then look for a good deal!

3. Don’t Discount Handmade Gifts.

I love these! I bet most everyone you know likes getting something handmade as well. Not only does it save you some money with absolutely no risk that someone else will buy the same, but it is truly heartfelt. The time and effort you exhibit to create something specific for your loved one will last longer than, say, an iPod. What happened to these anyway? Here and gone like most everything else, but your gift is a keepsake.

4. Be Vigilant - Security is Paramount.

Whether you are hopping from store to store or clicking away on, do not forget thieves use this time of year to take advantage of good-hearted consumers. Ensure you are on a secure site when paying online and keep your belongings close to you at all times. Do not leave anything on the ground or out of your sight. Identity theft and stolen gifts will set you back financially and emotionally as well. Do not give any scammer the opportunity!

Okay, I know this started out like Scrooge, but hopefully I have given you some good tips to make the most of the holiday shopping season. With some thought, good planning, a budget, and attentiveness, you can spend a bulk of your time with friends and family (and not stressing about shopping!). Cheers!

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