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Gift giving on a budget a necessity for many this holiday season

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- While some may be starting to feel the merriment of the season, others may be uttering "Bah Humbug" as they consider the impact gift giving will have on their bank accounts.

To help lessen the financial blow this holiday season, here are a few ideas:

1.    Price match. Many stores, including the Army and Air Force Exchange Service's    
       Base Exchange, will price match if you have an ad from a competitor showing a lower
       price. Do a little homework to make sure you're getting the best deal.

2.   Be an early bird or a night owl. Shop early bird and night owl sales for bargains. Take
      your patience with you along with your wallet because chances are many other
      people will be looking for good buys too.

3.   Second is sometimes first. Shop "secondary" or "overstock" stores for first-rate deals.
      The top three off-price retailers in the nation are TJ Maxx (including Marshalls), Ross
      Stores and Big Lots. At these and other stores, you'll find name-brand, quality items
      but at discount store prices.

4.   Make it special. Why not visit a craft or grocery store and make gifts for family and
      friends? The internet, magazines and newspapers offer a wide variety of homemade
      gifts that most people would love to receive. When you find something you like, use
      your imagination to bring it alive and make it even more special to the recipient.

5.   Make a game of it. Coordinate with family and friends to change your normal gift
      giving procedures. Try drawing a name from a hat or holding a white elephant gift
      exchange (everyone brings one wrapped gift and people get the chance to take an
      unwrapped gift or "steal" one that's already on display). Only having to buy for one
      person will greatly lesson the dollars that are flowing out of your pockets this time of
      year.

6.   Give a family gift. Instead of buying or making one gift for sister Sue, brother-in-law
      Gary and nieces Mary and Jane, give one gift you know the whole family will enjoy.
      Better yet, make one gift and give the same thing to everyone. Many web sites now
      offer the ability to make family calendars for example. Build one calendar including
      photos of all family members and have it printed in bulk. One gift - many 
      compliments!

7.   Shop thrifty. Visited a thrift store lately? Some of what you'll find in thrift stores run by
      organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army is obviously unwanted. But with a 
      little searching, these stores also produce hidden gems for all ages. Combine your
      purchases with a little creativity and you'll soon have great gifts. For example, find four
      different tea cups and a basket at the thrift store. Pick up a few different tea bags and
      a bow and you have a personalized gift basket.

8.   It's too late for this holiday season to budget each month for purchases and you can't
      go back to June and begin making a few purchases a month during special sales.
      But, why not put these thoughts in your memory box to help next year?

These are just a few things that might help take the financial pinch out of your holiday season. Do a little research on the internet using terms like "gift giving on a budget" to find more.