NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Stretching Dollars for the Holidays

Stretching Dollars for the Holidays


            Tis the season for all the joys of the holidays—an abundance of food, family and friends, giving and receiving, and a chill in the air. But with these come the often-dreaded struggle of holiday budgeting. To help you find the smart winning strategy for your holiday shopping, here are five tips to stretch your dollar and not get crushed in the crowds.
            1. Make your list (or budget!), and check it twice – Before you start shopping, make a budget. Write down all of the people you need to buy gifts for and how much you can spend on each person. A budget like this helps you forecast all of your expenses and gets you thinking about where you can look for deals.

            2. Boost your budget by selling unused gift cards for cash – If you’re like a lot of consumers, it’s probably fair to say that you have some old gift cards gathering dust in your drawer. Did you know that there are places where you can sell unused or partially used gift cards for cash? For example, Cardpool.com, a gift card exchange website, makes it easy for you to sell your unused gift cards and receive up to 92 percent of the load value of the card back in cash.
            3. Buy online, pickup in store – For those who plan to purchase gifts online this year, the “buy online, pickup in store” option that many retailer websites offer at checkout is a great way to save on high shipping costs this holiday season. Some retailers may even provide shopper loyalty points or rewards if you choose this option.

            4. Shop local - Shopping local saves you time and expense of traveling out of town, makes a dreaded return or exchange easier and supports your community. 

            5. Prepare your own favorite dishes -While buying a ready-to-go dish or dessert at the supermarket is easy, it will cost less if you make it yourself and it can be healthier too. You control the amount of salt, sugar and fat. Plus, you are more likely to have leftovers to enjoy another day and stretch your budget even further.

            6. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov. -You can find weekly recipes and tips to help make the holidays healthier.  MyPlate empowers you to put the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into action.  Clearly label your foods before you store them. When storing fruits and vegetables in the freezer or refrigerator, clearly label them with the contents and date to stay within a safe time frame.

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