Home > Personal Finance > The Quick Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

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The harsh reality? Christmas is a few days away, and for many consumers, gift shopping is not yet complete. But you don’t have to put procrastination on your list of holiday stressors; finishing up won’t be as bad or as harmful to your finances as you fear as long as you keep a few things in mind.

Shopping is Just a Click Away, But …

Many of us turn to online shopping for the convenience, but, as you place your orders, be mindful of shipping times and fees. E-commerce sites should have these times and charges prominently displayed this week, but do a little digging if the info isn’t front and center. You’ll find that many sites will offer free or discounted expedited shipping to ensure your packages arrive on time. However, there still could be some snags in the process. so unless you’re ordering a digital gift certificate, you might just have to go to the store.

Dealing With the Crowds

If you need to hit the stores, you should make a list – and not in just your head. It’ll be hectic out there and you’ll want to stay on track. You can use a note-taking app like Evernote or an old-fashioned piece of paper will do! If you have to work this week, check store hours. You’ll find that many stores open early and stay open late to accommodate shoppers like yourself.

Keep Your Cool

Whether you are shopping online or in-store, try not to get swept away by deep discounts. While deals are exciting and enticing, remember that 50% off means that you’re still spending as much as you’re saving. If a discount can be applied to the items on your list, go for it, but otherwise, you may want to just walk away.

If you’re out of ideas or out of time, you can also consider the following options. 

  • Gift Cards.Your grocery store and your local drugstore chains will have lots of gift cards available for retailers. These cards can also be purchased online and they usually come with an option to notify the recipient via email. Just remember to read the terms and conditions carefully as some gift cards may have fees attached to them.
  • Memberships/Subscriptions. Museum or zoo memberships or a subscription to a favorite magazine are always appreciated.
  • Do-it-Yourself gifts. If you’re at least a half-decent baker, you can whip up a batch of your “famous” cookies or muffins and package them in a gift box. Better yet, you can give them a nice one they can re-use.
  • Say it with Booze. Pick something up at the liquor store. Most liquor stores even carry decent gift bags that you can purchase in a pinch.
  • Photos. Some chains have online photo centers that can help you put together a quick present. CVS Photo, for instance, offers a service where you can order prints, cards and even photo books in as little as an hour. Walmart Photo offers a similar service where you can choose from cards and various prints – including collage prints and mounted prints – to be created for you in an hour.

Remember, high credit card balances can hurt your credit scores. You can see how your holiday shopping may have affected yours by viewing your free credit report summary Credit.com.

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