girl under christmas tree

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It’s a lot of pressure trying to find the perfect gift. And if you’re on a budget? Even harder.

But I managed to find some pretty great gifts for prices as sweet as a candy cane. This week, I’m gifting you with a special gift guide, with my top picks for presents under $50, $20 and $10.

Also, find out how much you should spend on an engagement ring and why it’s sometimes worth it to quit procrastinating on that big purchase you’ve been saving for.

Steal of the week

The steal: Your Christmas presents.

When is it? Now! There’s only a few more weeks until the holidays hit. Don’t be a present procrastinator.

What else do I need to know? Drumroll, please! Here are my favorite gifts of the holiday season if you’re on a budget:

Under $50

  • Give the gift of warmth this season. I love this white, pom pom beanie from The Little Market for $40. It’s handmade by female artisans working with Manuela Ramos. Manuel Ramos provides health and legal services to female artisans working in the poorest areas of Peru, so you’ll feel great about giving back, too!Perfect for: your favorite do-gooder.
  •  Get the All-New Echo Dot (second generation) currently on sale for $49.99 on Amazon. The Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses “Alexa” to play music, read the news and surf the web.Perfect for: your significant other. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself getting jealous of some girl named Alexa for taking up all your SO’s time.

Under $20

  • You don’t have to have a pen pal to appreciate beautiful stationery. I love this design from Rifle Paper Co., which includes eight monogrammed notes with envelopes for only $16.Perfect for: your office Secret Santa or long-distance BFF.
  • Snag virtual reality glasses for only $20. These VR Box Glasses at Kmart even come with a remote. The glasses will give you a 3-D picture effect when you’re watching movies or playing games.Perfect for: the tech junkie in your life.

Under $10

  • Who doesn’t enjoy a luxurious bubble bath every now and then? Lush offers a range of bath bombs from $4.50 to $8.95.Perfect for: stocking stuffers or your friend who is constantly stressed out.
  • Help them spruce up their desk and blow off steam at the same time with this “Paper Tantrum” notepad, available at Papyrus for only $4.95. It’s a notepad that lets you vent without judgment or making a scene.Perfect for: your workaholic friend.

Bottom line: It’s possible to give great gifts while steering clear of a holiday spending trap.

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Where to save this week

On an engagement ring

One glance at my Facebook feed will prove that engagement season is in full swing. If you’re planning to put a ring on it, there are a few things to consider when budgeting for all that bling.

The average couple spends $5,871 on their engagement ring, according to The Knot. The important thing to remember, though, is that there’s no hard and fast rule on how much you should spend on an engagement ring. However, you do need to budget accordingly.

Read more about how to save for all that sparkle.

On a new smartphone

Mobile phone carriers are getting merry this season with a plethora of promotions. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are all offering holiday deals for a limited time, so it might be a good time to finally upgrade or add a line.

Find out more about mobile carriers’ holiday promotions.

P.S.: Last week, I filled my subscribers in on how they can get fees for parking tickets and overdue library books waived. Don’t miss out on exclusive savings tips! Subscribe here.

Where you won’t save this week

With the “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” premiere around the corner, Jedi and Sith Lords alike are paying out-of-this-world prices on Star Wars merchandise. In fact, this Star Wars vintage action figure is currently going for $9,000 on eBay.

If you’re looking for some vintage Star Wars collectibles, may the (financial) force be with you.

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My savings story

There are a few things that make my stomach flip. Like when I accidentally leave my curling iron on or when the wine store is out of my favorite white.

But paying for big purchases also makes me uneasy. And I don’t think I’m the only one who becomes a nervous wreck when I’m about to do some damage to my bank account.

This week, I spent a good amount of money on a flight for an upcoming vacation. I’ve been dreaming about this vacation for months now and have been budgeting for it. But no matter how much planning and researching you do before a big purchase, it’s still scary shelling out all that cash.

I procrastinated purchasing the flight and was starting to think my dream vacation would be just that, a dream. I was too nervous to pull the trigger, and I think savers everywhere understand that feeling.

Thankfully there was a flash sale, and I knew if I wanted to make my trip a reality, it was the right time.

When you’re a saver, it can be hard to strike a balance between saving and spending. If you’ve budgeted for a big purchase, like a car, vacation or engagement ring, you don’t need to feel guilty about your purchase. Being on a budget doesn’t mean completely cutting out purchases; it just means you should be spending smarter.

That’s the whole point of saving, so that you can enjoy big purchases more because you know you can afford it.


Sry not sry. #spoonfeed (via @guaclock)

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