The Easiest Way to Save Money on Holiday Gifts

When time is short, your desire to not show up empty-handed trumps financial concerns, meaning you're apt to shell out extra cash for a present, even if it's less than perfect, finds a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. "You may have grandiose notions of finding the perfect gift for your best friend weeks before the holidays," says lead author Jennifer Aaker, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley. "But if December 23rd rolls around and you still don't have anything, you'll be willing to spend more money on something that just gets the job done." To save yourself from a whopper of a credit card bill come January, schedule a day during the first week of December to get a head start on shopping for the special people on your list. In the meantime, stock up on inexpensive, more generic gifts, which you can dole out to everyone else. You'll make it through the season with sanity and cash to spare.

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