(November 27, 2013) — Whether it’s a perfect puppy for a spouse, a car priced just right for your teenager, or maybe it’s your toddler’s first bicycle; holiday deals and steals can be seen just about everywhere this time of year. With careful planning, consumers can make the most of their holidays without straining their budgets. Better Business Bureau and ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions are encouraging consumers to be “calculated gift givers” this holiday season. Here are five tips to help you be more calculated in your holiday planning:#1 Become an expert on big ticket items
If you are considering a high-dollar purchase for a loved one, it’s important to become an “expert” on the item. This will allow you to make the best decision regarding cost and quality of the product. Maybe one product is made with higher quality materials, or maybe it offers an extra warranty. Whatever the case, you can make the best decision by doing thorough research into the product and its different models. #2 Shop online
Always be on the lookout to for opportunities to save. This means regularly checking the internet for deals and steals. Shop.org’s eholiday survey found that the savings have been available for a while as more than half of all companies planned to launch their online promotions in October! Ensure you don’t miss any promotions such as free shipping or buy-one-get-ones by signing up for your favorite store’s email list. #3 Start early
The earlier you start your holiday planning, the better. When consumers are short on time, they have less flexibility and can’t shop around as much. Look for deals early in the year, and don’t be afraid to buy gifts far in advance and store them somewhere at home until the holiday season approaches. Just be sure to ask if gifts purchased ahead can be returned if they don’t work for the recipient.#4 Give gifts that provide a return
A calculated gift giver understands that gifts should provide a return. In some cases, this return is just the enjoyment of the recipient, but it could be a financial return. Perhaps you can give gifts that help friends and family make money through a side job or hobby. Examples include tools and equipment along with guides, books and other resources. #5 Create a holiday budget
You don’t want to let your holiday spending get away from you, so it’s important to develop a plan and a firm budget. Plan ahead. Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Also make a list of the gifts you would like to give. This helps you to avoid buying on impulse gifts that may be inappropriate or too expensive. Use ClearPoint's holiday budget calculator to see how much you should be spending on gifts this year. The calculator even allows you to list each gift you plan to purchase and account for food, travel, and other expenses.