Are You Spending Too Much on Valentine's Day Gifts?

It's no secret that holiday shopping can be completely exhausting. On top of how physically taxing the endeavor can be, shopping also takes a stressful toll on your wallet. It's easy to spend beyond your budget during the holidays -- after all, it's the season of giving. This year, instead of cringing at your post-Valentine's Day credit card bill, try following these four easy gifting tips. Your wallet will thank you for it.

1. Make a gift list
Shopping aimlessly at the mall is an easy way to make impulse purchases. This year, avoid bad shopping habits by making a list of everyone you plan on purchasing gifts for. Avoid lingering in the store, or better yet, buy online with the strict goal of buying only the items on your list. With a shopping list at hand, you are less likely to be distracted by the mall's holiday frenzy.

2. Get an early start
Many shoppers wait until Feb. 13 to start their holiday shopping spree. By doing so, desperate shoppers become vulnerable to buying whatever is left in stock at the mall when retail prices are at their highest. You can avoid this mistake by getting an early start on your shopping. Try to buy one or two weeks beforehand (or better yet, check out the after-Christmas sales). Getting a head-start is an easy way to find the best items within your budget.

3. Stick to simple gifts
Don't know what to buy your acquaintances and co-workers? Stick to gifts that you know they'll enjoy. Think about gift cards, rather than an item your loved one might have to return, or opt for food items or coffee. Sticking to simple gifts is a great way to spread the gift of giving without hurting your wallet.

4. Get creative in the kitchen
Strapped for cash this year and can't afford to buy an expensive bottle of Champagne? No worries. A great alternative to buying gifts is taking the time to make candy or bake your loved one's favorite treats. Homemade treats have a personal touch and are a great way to stay in the holiday spirit. Besides, you can't go wrong with cookies.

This year, don't get wrapped up by Valentine's Day gift-giving chaos. Try shopping with a list at hand and a budget in mind. The best way to find thoughtful gifts for your significant other (or kid's kindergarten classmates, or your friends, or your family) is to start shopping as early as possible to avoid inflated retail prices and rushed purchases. Following any of these easy tips will keep you on budget during the holiday season. 

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