Don’t go into debt just because you’re a gift-buying procrastinator.

4 minute read

Research from the National Retail Federation shows more than 148 million Americans will go shopping for the holidays tomorrow.

NRF calls this “Super Saturday,” or the last Saturday before Christmas, which will fall on December 18 this year. Of course, they could have planned their holiday budget early, but now it’s the eleventh hour and there’s no turning back. If that’s the camp you fall into there’s still time to pull off a holiday miracle.

Find out seven tips for last-minute holiday shopping below.

1. Live by the list, including budget amounts and gift locations for each recipient

Create a list of people you plan to buy a gift for this holiday. Assign a dollar amount, and determine if you are shipping or giving the gift in person. Then, check that list twice and stick to it.

The goal of a gift list is to keep you mindful and disciplined during the rushed holiday spending season. Print the list or have it on your smartphone so it’s accessible while shopping, and cross off each gift as you purchase it.

Find out: How to Make a Holiday Budget

2. Cash in credit card perks like cash-back rewards and points

If you’ve been using credit cards throughout the year and hopefully saving up points or cash-back rewards, then now’s the time to use them. Credit cards from American Express, Visa, Discover, and Mastercard offer ways to redeem your points online for merchandise or gift cards.

If you get cash-back rewards, use the balance to pay off gifts. You may be able to save some of the payments for January, if you want to. Remember to track what you put on the card to make sure your cash rewards balance covers it.

3. Strategize purchases by tracking ads and signing up for deal alerts

Maybe you’ve noticed your inbox is filling up with holiday promotions. These digital ads can be a good place to start planning where and what you can get for last-minute gifts.

Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and others have apps that let you set deal alerts so you get updated when prices drop. This may be one of the few advantages of being a last-minute holiday shopper!

If you see a deal that matches a gift idea on your list, update the list so you know where to shop. Certain last-minute deals may be too good to pass up and match what one or more recipients may like. Stay flexible on gift selection if the price is right.

4. Get discounted gift cards

It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. You can buy gift cards for less than their face value from retailers like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon (during their holiday Prime event).

Sites like Gift Card Mall also give discounts when you buy many gift cards. This strategy not only helps save money but crosses off several items from your gift list all at once.

One word of caution: be wary of anyone selling gift cards on sites like eBay or Craigslist as they may not be legitimate.

5. Give a photo to let your recipients know what’s on the way

Let’s say you missed the cutoff date for one-day delivery or you realize the cost of that delivery option means taking out a small loan. Try this tactic.

Use standard shipping rates, which may be free, to send your holiday gifts. While the gifts may arrive after Christmas, you can send the recipient a message through email or text with a picture letting them know a gift is making its way to them.

You can either send a picture of the actual gift or maintain the element of surprise by including a picture of a wrapped present. That will let them know you haven’t forgotten. It’ll also keep them in suspense.

Plus, there’s the added benefit that since shipment companies aren’t as busy after the holidays, you may decrease the odds of your gifts getting lost or mishandled.

6. Go for freebies like gift-wrapping and multi-item promotions

Many retailers throw in gift-wrapping service if you buy from them, saving you some extra money. The procrastinator in you always appreciates gift-wrapping assistance since you may have already waited until the last minute.

Another “freebie” to consider may be last-minute deals that stores offer to move out excess inventory. Look for signs that say “BOGO” (Buy-One-Get-One) or retailers that offer three items for the price of two.

Depending on your holiday gift list, these promotions may let you knock out two or three items on your list in one purchase at a fraction of the price. Make sure the value is there before filling your cart.

7. Make a donation

Research from Nonprofit Source found that 30 percent of all charitable giving occurs during the holidays. Whether you know people who have waited to the last minute or you’re looking for a thoughtful gift, a charitable donation may be the answer.

Pick your recipient’s favorite charity and make an online donation in their name. You can send an email or card to the recipient that lets them know you did so.

8. Remember the Reason For the Season

The holiday season is not about how much money you spend. If it was, everyone would be in debt.

As Christmas approaches, remember it’s about the joy of giving and showing others you are thinking of them. Most importantly, the season is about spending time with loved ones and reflecting on another year together. Those memories are priceless.

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About the Author

John Boitnott

John Boitnott

I am a tech writer and journalist for more than 20 years who contributes to several respected online publications including BusinessInsider, Inc., and Entrepreneur. In addition to journalism, writing about social good companies and in-depth research, I’m also active in my community and enjoy metaphysical book reading groups, as well as hiking on the amazing trails of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Published by Debt.com, LLC