Shopping on a budget

With the holiday season finally here, people are feeling the pressure to buy gifts while saving money. The Hatchet spoke with personal shopper Rachel Rosenthal, who works for Rosey’s Urban Style, a personal organizing and shopping company, to gain some insight on how to shop smart.

Q: What do you think is the most popular item this holiday season?

A: For college kids, it is anything computerized. I always see college-aged kids on their computers, listening to music or whatever. So a really great gift would be to buy someone a gift certificate to the Apple store or maybe something electronic or computerized that is still affordable.

Q: Do you have a recommendation for what to buy family members?

A: I always tell people when they are buying or when I buy for them to personalize the gift and base it on the personalities and interests of the recipient. I think now that we are officially in a recession, families are cutting back on the amount of gifts they buy for others and buying thoughtful gifts that will be of more value. A good gift for parents in general is the popular computerized picture frames that you can upload pictures on to so when you are not home or you’re away, it’s a great way for parents to see photos of you guys.

Q: How much would you recommend spending on different people?

A: I really think it depends on your relationship and your budget. I don’t think you should set a limit because the most expensive gift is not necessarily the best gift. The cheapest gift could be the best for parents, whether it’s putting together a collage of pictures or doing something thoughtful for them. Buying them something you know they need is going to make a huge difference, but I think it’s more the thought than the actual price of the gift that matters.

Q: What advice would you give to college students who are on a tight budget?

A: Think about your recipients and think about your budget. Think out of the box and creatively. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. Your generation is much more technologically savvy than your parents, so something like a calendar is $10 right now. When you put pictures of the family and give it as a gift, it is going to seem like it was worth a lot more because you took the time to do it. And it’s family pictures, which have sentimental value. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot out of the present.

Q: What if you have a lot of friends but can’t afford to buy something for every person?

A: If you have a big group of friends and everyone is in the same situation, I would suggest doing something like Secret Santa, so you don’t have to buy for every single person but just for one person. Everyone can get together, set a limit of how much money everyone agrees to spend and then do an exchange. Or you can do something like getting together and going to dinner with everybody, so you’re not buying individual presents but you are

having the same fun experience together.

Q: Any there any big sales in particular stores?

A: We are in a recession right now so stores are offering huge discounts to get people to buy their items. Stores like Old Navy and Gap are having huge sales now and are going to have them all the way until Christmas Day. You are going to get maybe a bigger sale the last three days before Christmas, but I don’t know how many people will do that.

Q: What mistakes can shoppers avoid to spend more wisely?

A: Making a list of the people you are shopping for and possibly the type of gift they want or jotting down some of their interests before you go into the mall is going to be a huge time saver as well as a money saver because people who just walk in to the mall will spend more on stuff that is not needed. Also if you are trying to save money, it helps to write down a ballpark figure for a limit of how much you want to spend on each person. It will give you more of a conscience of how much you want to spend on that individual.

Q: Are there any stores that you recommend going to in the area?

A: I would say Pentagon City Mall. You are going to get better deals at the mall, in general, instead of little boutique stores because those small shops do not have to take out as much inventory, so their sales are probably going to be less than a huge shopping mall. Also, at a mall you have more choices and more availability of items.

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