Stretching Your Dollar: Holiday shopping savings

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - With only 39 days to shop for Christmas we found the four things you need to consider to stretch your shopping dollars.

First and foremost, make a list. On that list you need to figure out how much you can spend for each person. We met Jim and Lois Painter of Charlotte who never shop without a list. Just like their  groceries, they never shop for Christmas without a list.

"You have to be careful with your dollars," Lois said.

After you have made your list and checked it twice, make a budget.  Remember, any deal you pay for with a credit card, is no deal at all if you cannot pay that card off before interest kicks in.  So use cash.

Michael McFarland and his wife have a plan, "We pay for everything with our check card, if we don't have the cash to pay for it, we're not buying it," Michael said.

When you hit the stores to shop, think about layaway plans.  Several stores in our area offer layaway as a great idea for holiday shopping.  Most stores will charge you a nominal fee to start a layaway, you put a little down toward the entire purchase then pay it off over three months.

With six weeks to shop, you can pay small amounts and have your purchases paid off before Christmas.  We traveled to Burlington Coat Factory earlier this fall and found their layaway program thriving.  We met a father of three who loves the layaway plan.  "We paid off our credit cards and this is a perfect system for us," he said.

Another great idea for finding unique gifts is try non-traditional stores, like thrift stores.  We have several in the Charlotte area where your spending goes to help families in need, like the Assistance League Thrift store on South Tryon Street.  We found several pieces of ladies clothing that still had the tag from the original store.

The most important thing to remember is you do not want to wake up in January with a Holiday Shopping headache.  Spend what you have and remember the old adage your grandmother taught you, it is the thought that counts.

©2009 WBTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.