Style Essentials is a personal grooming column for African Americans featuring advice and product reviews to keep you looking and feeling good.

Lashawnda K. Becoats

It’s the holiday season, we have a black president-elect and gas prices are finally getting lower. Does this mean we should rush out and spend? Umm, no! My mother recently said it best: “It’s been a tough year financially.”

But since most of us will spend something to honor those we love, consider these tips:

Stay focused. Make a list of all the people you want to buy for. Then edit that list to include only those you can afford to buy for.

Decide on a budget. Set a dollar amount for each person on your list. Make sure it’s realistic, and don’t spend what you don’t have. The holidays aren’t about how much you spend; it’s about showing you care. We should all get back to practicing that principle.

Decide on a strategy. Look for sales, check out sales circulars and shop online. Save time by shopping in one place or area when possible. Online shopping can be time consuming and a sometimes overwhelming. Set aside time to search the web and get it done. Order gifts early so they arrive on time.

Start shopping. Shop with your list in hand, and stick to it. Leave the credit cards at home and pay with cash. That way you can’t be tempted to overspend. When using cash, don’t be afraid to ask for deals, especially at boutiques or smaller stores. Ask for gift boxes, take advantage of free gift wrapping and don’t forget to ask for a gift receipt. If you shop online, look for retailers that offer free shipping, and check out sites that offer daily specials.

Give from the Heart. Gift-giving should be joyful, even if your cash is limited. Be creative and have fun. If you can’t find the perfect gift, get over yourself! Practical gifts are now in style. Buy gift cards for gas, groceries, car washes, movies, restaurants and bookstores. Remember, every bit helps. If you give from the heart, rest assured your gift will be appreciated — even cherished.

Happy shopping!

(Lashawnda K. Becoats is a lifestyle consultant and owner of La Concierge in Charlotte, N.C. Email her at Read her column here each Thursday, only on Qcitymetro.)

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