Five Ways to Save Money on Holiday Gifts Without Looking Like a Cheapskate

Money’s tight for a lot of us this holiday season. You just may not have the bank balance or credit limit available this year for the gifts you’d really like to give. While it’s not hard to find online advice on frugal gift-giving, let’s be honest: if you followed most of that advice, you’d come off looking like a cheapskate.

Making your own gift certificates? Cheap. Who’s going to call you up months after the holidays and try to redeem the certificate? Nobody. Homemade mix CDs? Your taste in music might be worth a million bucks, but a homemade mix CD labeled with a Sharpie marker? Cheap.

Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but some low-cost gifts shout ‘cheapskate’ more loudly than others. It’s still possible to save some cash and save your reputation during the holiday season with the ideas below.

1) Record an audio book. There’s nothing better than the sound of a friend’s voice, right? How about the sound of a friend’s voice reading you a story on your morning commute? For a totally free and totally awesome gift idea, download the text to an out-of-copyright book online and record yourself reading it aloud. Sherlock Holmes detective stories are perfect for this.

2) Buy discount gift cards online. Gift cards are impersonal, sure, but they’re still a good stocking stuffer option. Don’t pay full price, though. Buy discounted gift cards from one of the many online gift card broker sites. You can often save about 30% over the retail price of gift cards this way.

3) Use your points. You might already be collecting points through your credit card or frequent flier program that you can redeem for travel, gifts, or gift certificates. Credit card companies or airlines often let you redeem points for free hotel stays, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, or for restaurant gift certificates. Check your mileage or points balance and see what you can redeem. Just make sure to verify that someone other than you can use the gift certificates.

4) Print a calendar from digital photos. Find 12 digital photos that have sentimental value for someone on your holiday gift list. Use an online printing company to print a calendar with the photos. For bonus points, mark important dates like family birthdays and anniversaries in the calendar before you give it.

5) Buy ‘re gifts’ online. Everyone receives gifts they know they just can’t use. Many people resell those gifts online. You can often find unopened gifts in perfect condition on online auctions. Even if the gift wasn’t right for its original recipient, it could be perfect for someone on your list. Just make sure to verify what condition the item is in before you buy it.

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