Real Simple has 25 tips to help save money during the holidays, and we like a few of them. Our favorites:
Calculate the extras. When you’re figuring your gift costs, don’t forget to include taxes, gift wrapping, and shipping charges in the amount you’ve set aside. Less than 21 percent of consumers include those expenses when planning their holiday shopping, according to Visa USA research. Adding $15, plus state and local tax, to the cost of each item will help you stay within your budget.
Think flat. For last-minute gifts, buy books, DVDs, CDs, gift cards, gloves, and scarves — anything that fits in a U.S. Postal Service flat-rate envelope. Sending them by two-day Priority Mail, which can technically be used until midnight on December 22 (though most post offices close at 5 p.m.), costs $3.85; next-day-delivery Express Mail, which can technically be used until midnight, December 23, costs $13.65.
One tip we don’t like: We’re not big fans of buying stock certificates for kids. Yes, the paper may say Atari, but really. No kid wants that. Just get the kid a jump rope or a baseball or something if you’re cheap. Fight childhood obesity.—MEGHANN MARCO
25 Ways to Save During the Holidays [Real Simple]