1) Sit down with your family and write a list of everyone you want to give gifts to. When your list is complete, decide how much you want to spend on each person. This might sound hard, but don't worry about the total yet. Once you're done, look at the total, and if it's more than you want to spend on everything, decide on how much, $100, $200, $500 you want to spend, and then with that figure in mind, work out the figure for each person on your list.

2) It might seem cheap to give homemade gifts, but for immediate family, such as parents and grandparents, it works, and is a bigger hit than a sweater or a pair of gloves. Bake a cake, make some brownies or cookies, do some research and build a Family Tree and put it in a frame.

3) Shop online for the things you want to buy - but beware of stores that have high shipping. Places like Amazon have fixed shipping so you know what you're really going to pay, and most things are 1/3 cheaper than you'll find in the store.

4) Target, Wal-Mart and dollar stores have some great gifts for under $5 that kids love. Target and Wal-mart both have great generic-brand toy packages in $5, $10, and $15 increments. These toy sets include balls, play doctor kits, die-cast cars, doll sets, toy trucks, a velcro target and balls, and train sets.


5) If things are really tight financially, don't be afraid to tell your parents or grandparents that you’re trying to get out of debt and will be giving small gifts or no gifts at all. Parents and grandparents likely understand that times can be tough, and will respect the fact that you’re aggressively trying to get out of debt and you’ll get the added benefit of their support.


6) Make an agreement with your friends and family of how far to go with gifts. Your friends and family are probably stressing out about Christmas finances this year, just as much as you are. Approach them with the idea of making a pact to not exchange gifts this year above a certain dollar amount.


7) In stores, when you physically buy something, use cash and always ask for gift receipts. This means you won't be tempted to put something larger on your credit card, and will give you an opportunity to let the recipient take the item back and exchange it if needed.

8) Look online or in your newspaper for coupons or store specials. Shop the pre-Christmas sales. Right now, with just over a month to go, LOTS of stores are having big sales because of the economy. Use this to your advantage.

9) Don't be afraid to buy used or refurbished direct from an outlet or sites like eBay. Refurbished or factory direct returned used items have full packaging and have been thoroghly tested and reconditioned, and usually carry a full factory warrantly. The only difference is the price.

10) No matter how you decide to shop for gifts, remember that Christmas is about having fun and being with your family.


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