Tis the season for shopping! Are you one of those people who are already finished Christmas shopping or are you like me waiting until the absolute last day I can ship before Christmas without having to pay extra for speedy delivery? Regardless, it is easy to overspend and buy hasty, unexciting gifts because you didn’t plan ahead. Before you head blindly into that mall, overjoyed with Christmas spirits only to wake up in Jan to a nasty credit card hangover, here are some tips to help you spread and keep the joy:

Before you Shop, you must Prepare!

– Make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to
– Now add some “oops you shouldn’t have because I didn’t” and some “thanks for a lovely Xmas party” gifts
– Check that list twice – did you forget an aunt, a teacher, G$money?
– Add some cushion for the “I want one too!” and “that’s so much fun!” gifts
– Next, list how much you want to spend on each lucky gift recipient
– Add it all up. Do you have enough in savings to cover this? No! Can you knock anyone off your list or cut back on some gift budgets?
– Now list gifts you know you want to buy and email the remaining gift recipients for ideas

Hit the Internet!

– Compare prices
– Download coupons sends you constant savings if you follow on twitter and like on facebook weeds out grocery coupons so you can concentrate on retail has magazine subscription savings

– Take advantage of Free Shipping or Ship to Store
– Sign up for promotions from your favorite retailers
– Buy what you want/can online

Time to brave the Stores!

– Use barcode scanner mobile apps like Shop Savvy, Amazon Mobile and GeoQpon to compare prices and find what you want in a store near you or buy online
– Use your coupons – Coupon Sherpa downloads coupons on your phone to scan at register
– Try to avoid the impulse buy – nobody really needs Rock ‘n Roll Santa – but you do have a little cushion for these spirit-inspired impulse buys

Caveat Emptor!

– Avoid gift cards that expire
– Check the return and exchange policies
– Don’t get roped into extended warranties and unnecessary accessories
– Had Enough? Buy a prepaid credit card, but be sure to check for hidden fees

Christmas shopping can be fun as long as you prepare and budget so you aren’t more generous than your savings account can afford!

G’s favorite gift ideas:

– Wine aerator – it really does make wine taste better
– Funny Styrofoam Go Cups – for the hostess with the mostest
– Nespresso machine -the freshest coffee
– Lumiere Neocutis – “ miraculous age defying eyes!
– Moroccan hair oil – silky and shiny hair
– Margaritaville machine – it’s awesome
– Allen Brothers’ meat – can’t beat Allen’s meat
– WSJ wine – great deals on unique and wide-variety of wines
– Godivas – because everyone loves chocolate
– Xbox Kinect – fun for the whole family
– Go the f*ck to sleep – for new parents
– Cash – great gift for adult kids ($13k limit per person for 2011)

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