The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This is my favorite time of the year.  Why? Christmas Shopping!!!! Before you start telling me about the true meaning of Christmas, I know and I love and celebrate the birth of Jesus.  But I can’t hide my delight of checking the Sunday papers, reviewing my black Friday websites, and doing some comparison shopping for myself, my family and friends.

This is the season for giving, but it is also a great time to snag some deals for you.   Last year, I was able to get an over the range microwave from Lowes for $99, and a nice flat screen TV for my bedroom.  This year, I have my eye on a nice set of pots and a steam mop.

Here are some tips to get you ready for this holiday season:

Look for the Deal. Although many people think that Black Friday is the best day for holiday shopping, the retailers are sneaking in good prices every week.  The best ways to keep up with the deals are to follow sites such as bfads.net.  This site not only gives you a sneak peak at black Friday ads, it also provides you with sales throughout the entire holiday season.

Layaway is your friend. Some of my friends turn their nose up to layaway.  I have always been a fan.  Layaway allows you to break up the payments, and also provides you with storage for the gifts until a few days before Christmas.

  • Kmart and Sears are companies that have year round layaway plans and you usually have about 8 weeks to make the payments. The fee is $5.  You can go in store or online to set up your layaway and also make payments.
  • Burlington, TJ Max, and Marshalls have 30 Day Layaway Plans.
  • Wal-Mart has reentered the layaway game and has in store layaway on toy and electronic purchases on items worth $15 or more.

Make Gifts.  My son like most kids is a budding artist.  Last year, Michaels had a holiday sale that included Canvas Six Packs.  We spent one Saturday making art and he presented our family with their own original masterpieces. This year he is into photography.  We will be making calendars with some of his work.

Get what you want.  Last year, I wanted a Wii.  However, I talked myself into Xtreme Fit from CVS.  It was only $30.  I saw some reviews and it seemed like it would be a comparable substitute.  We played it maybe twice, before I submitted to defeat.  If you really want something, nothing but that thing will replace that want.  If you cannot afford to buy it at Christmas because of other commitments, get it at tax time, or put it on layaway after Christmas.

A low price does not necessarily equal a deal. I was interested in getting my son a netbook.  However, I wanted to keep the price under $200.  I saw deals, but when I actually started to look at the reviews on the products, the quality was inferior. When you begin looking at the various deals, check the product reviews by other consumers.  People are brutally honest, and the honesty can save you time, money, and headache.

Spread the love.  I used to try to buy everything that my son wanted for Christmas.  I like the joy of seeing him happy.  However, so does his father, grandparents, and aunts.  If there are gifts that your kid really wants – share the list with the entire family and confirm who will buy what.  This will allow family members to give them that special gift.  Stores like Target and Hearthsong allow you to create wish lists and share them with friends and family.

Bill Me Later.  I am a fan of not going broke for Christmas. For most gifts I pay cash, or I use Bill Me Later.  I started using this service in 2004.  This year, the company was purchased by PayPal and the list of vendors has really expanded. The terms vary depending on the retailer, but this allows you to have a layaway like feel because you can make large purchases interest free and break up the payments.   If you purchase items (up to $250) through Walmart.com and choose the option of bill me later, you can take up to 6 months to pay the balance off.

Buy from entrepreneurs.   With the economic downturn, many people have turned to entrepreneurship and direct sales for income.  It may be a little more expensive, but when you purchase from someone that owns their own business you can take comfort in knowing that you are directly affecting someone.  Try local boutiques, or if you are an internet shopper try support business owners on sites like Etsy.com

I saved the best tip for last.  Take a moment to plan out your holiday shopping.  This will save you time and money.  I recommend you create a list of the must have purchases for your love ones, and also create a wish list for items that you would like to purchase if the price is right.

 

What are some of your holiday shopping tips?

Last 5 posts by Tia Jones, MBA

About Tia Jones, MBA

Tiá Jones, MBA is the owner of SistersSpace.com the fastest growing online community for women of color. Tiá is also the blogger and creator of The Hostess Chick, and CEO of New Legacy Services, LLC, a small business coaching company.

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