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Simplify Christmas shopping with these tips to save while not breaking the bank

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    Don’t break the bank this Christmas season when purchasing gifts. METROGRAPHICS

Published November 29. 2019 12:56PM

If you could bring back one toy from your childhood, what would it be? Does it still exist today? And if so, how much would it cost you?

With holiday gifts ranging from a cool $3 to upward of $100 in 1989, has the price increased or decreased for today’s Nice Lists?

According to Rebecca Gramuglia, shopping expert at TopCashback.com, holiday shopping could cost you at least $300-plus more in 2019 compared to what it cost 30 years ago in 1989.

However, toys themselves haven’t changed much compared to today’s “hot toys” list — both have dolls, cars, games, cuddly toys and game consoles.

One of the must-have electronics in 1989 was the Game Boy and it cost $89.99. Don’t fret though, you can still buy a Game Boy product now but it will likely be refurbished off of Amazon or you can hand over upward of $300 for the hot toy this season, the Nintendo Switch.

In 1989, Lil Miss Makeup was on the front page of a KB Toys Holiday catalog with a $19.99 price tag, but has since been discontinued. However, dolls are still popular and are consistently on the top toy lists every year.

Today, the popular dolls from L.O.L. Surprise! may cost you a little bit more than Lil Miss Makeup. This year the L.O.L. Surprise! Winter Disco O.M.G. Crystal Star 2019 Collector Edition Fashion Doll costs roughly $50.

When they were fresh on the scene in 1989, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures cost a sweet $3.49 each (realistically closer to $14 because you have to get all four).

And after numerous movies and show reboots, your fave pizza-hungry turtles have gotten a little makeover but can still be purchased! Thankfully, the nostalgia element is strong and you can score the throwback-style four-pack of Turtles at GameStop for $92.

Whether you’re doing some nostalgic toy shopping for your kids or yourselves, these tips on how to save on this season’s holiday gifts will help you keep your kids happy while not breaking the bank.

1. Start early. Don’t make the rookie mistake of plunging blindly into holiday shopping. Avoid the last-minute rush and stress by shopping as soon as possible, after all, you won’t be the only parent or cool aunt looking for the hottest toys this year. Don’t forget to take advantage of sales and end-of-season markdowns, for example, Best Buy will be offering great bundles this Black Friday on gaming consoles.

2. Create a gift budget and stick to it. It’s easy to overspend on holiday gifts for loved ones (especially for the little ones at home) when you don’t have a budget in place. The best way to establish a budget is by setting a dollar amount on the most you can spend on gifts this holiday season, then divide that total by the number of people on your list — giving you a spending limit for each person.

3. Make a list and check it twice. Making a list of every person you want to give a gift to along with a dollar amount may seem like a no-brainer, but in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to overspend. To keep yourself disciplined and focused make your shopping list as detailed as possible by doing some additional research to plan ahead. Narrow down your who, what and where before you hit the shops. Who are you shopping for; what’s the perfect gift for that person; and where can you purchase that item for less. Pro tip: keep this list as a reference for next year so you don’t have to think back and remember again.

4. Save money by utilizing promos and online tools. The holiday season is a hectic time of year, so spare yourself from going over your budget by bundling savings, coupons and promotions while using a rebate site like TopCashback.com to receive cashback on all your purchases. Between Black Friday (which now lasts for weeks, apparently) and all the other “special” sales, you can get everyone on your list great gifts without breaking the bank. Save money effortlessly by downloading TopCashback’s Browser Extension to automatically find active promo codes and apply them to your online order. TopCashback.com has a variety of popular retailers such as Walmart, Target, GameStop, Best Buy and more for all your holiday shopping needs.

5. Buy gifts and other wishlist items after the holiday season. You can find popular gifts like cashmere sweaters, holiday beauty sets and more significantly marked down a mere 24 hours after Dec. 25. With stores looking to bring in new resort inventory, they’ll want to get rid of any winter/holiday merchandise as soon as possible. And if you really want to, you can start your holiday shopping for next year even earlier by shopping right after the holidays to score those must-have gifts.

6. Shrink your list. Stop gifting people out of habit even if you spend as little as $20 on each present, that still adds to $500 if there are 25 people on your gift list. Whether you’re still sending gifts to your old college roommate’s kids or neighbors, make it a point to remove anyone you haven’t seen or talked to in the past year. Giving gifts to fewer people saves you time as well as money — the fewer people you have to shop for, the less time you have to spend in overcrowded malls and wrapping presents.

7. Create a holiday email. In need of a discount, but the only one available is if you sign up for a store’s email club? And who wants their inbox constantly flooded with promotions? No one, so consider making a separate email account only for store email lists. Even if you only use it around the holidays, it’s an easy way to 1) get discounts on gifts and 2) keep them organized in one place.

8. Implement the three gift rule for your kids. The best way to stay on budget while still treating your kids is by sticking to the three gift rule. Basically, buy your child something they want, something they need and something educational or creative. Depending on your budget, you can adjust this rule to fit your kid’s needs by limiting them to five gifts instead. Have your child create a wish list and let them know about the gift limit early on. This will ensure they only list what they really want instead of asking for everything they see in ads on television.

9. Wrap it up. Don’t be so quick to shell out major bucks on gift wrapping this holiday season. Between bags, tags and pretty wrapping paper, gift wrapping can be costly. Consider buying gift wrapping at dollar stores to save money or see if the mall/stores/online shops offer to wrap gifts for free. Whether it’s gift bags (make sure your name isn’t written all over it) or the box your product was shipped in, these items can be reused to wrap gifts too. In addition, stock up for next year by buying in bulk or wait until end-of-season sales when gift wrapping supplies are usually significantly marked down.

10. It’s the thought that counts. When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts not the price. Try not to worry about who you spend the most money on this holiday season because it’s the meaning behind the gift that really matters. Just because you spent $50 on your sister, for example, doesn’t mean you have to spend $50 on your brother when his perfect gift only costs $25. Keep the big picture in mind while shopping this year, as long as you’re staying within your budget, you can allocate money however you need.

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