You recommend  that the first step is to look back on what you spent last year. Why is that?

Making a list of who you gave gifts to and what you spent last year will give you a solid sense of what to expect this year. If your financial situation has changed, you may need to reduce the amount you spend per person, remove recipients from your list or propose drawing names if you give gifts to a big group.

We’re hearing that holiday sales are going to be popping up from now through Christmas. How do we make sense of it all?

Things are going to be very different this year. Retailers, like Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Amazon are already making announcements that their sales will be sporadic and all season long. Rather than actively watching the sales, use a site like to help. They have a deal alert feature where you enter an item that you want and you’ll be alerted when it goes on sale. Also, install their free browser extension, so you’ll automatically be notified of available savings as you browse online.

What if we really don’t have enough money to shop – is it too late to start saving?

Definitely not, but it’s important to make your move now. Two things you could do to raise holiday funds are:

Sell a few things: If you have gently-used items that you no longer use or want, you could sell those items for cash and then use that cash to shop. eBay makes selling really easy – you can post anything from clothing to tech to collectibles in under a minute, and it’s free to list up to 200 items per month! Pro tip: clothing and accessories are hot right now, with shoes and accessories selling for nearly 20% more this year than last. A pair of women’s shoes is purchased every 6 seconds and a handbag every 12 seconds!

Give something up: As an example, if you have a $4/day latte habit, or if you are getting weekly manicures, you could easily save a couple hundred dollars in time for the holidays. After the holidays, you could return to your regular habit.


What if we have loved ones who are struggling financially? How can we help?

Send their gifts early in the form of “spending money” that they can spend on holiday gifts, if they wish.  You can do this with gift cards, or better yet, use Giftya, which is a new digital gift that gives them spending money for their favorite store.  You can personalize it with a photo, video or different colors, and the funds arrive on their phone in seconds. They can even switch retailers or opt for a Visa gift card if they’d prefer to shop elsewhere.

Related: dozens of November deals

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