Last Minute Budget Shopping Made Easy

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- There are just four days left until Christmas and that means you’re running out of time to get the shopping list checked off.

We wanted to see if you could still find quality gifts on a budget.

We began at Valley Junction in West Des Moines, where there are a variety of shops. You can find something for everyone on your list. The first thing we did was meet up with Katie Funk, she was our shopping specialist. We chatted for a bit, told her how much we wanted to spend -- which was $25 per person -- and headed out to shop.

Our first stop was Fun on 5th Boutique, where Funk assured me I could find the perfect gift for my mom.

“You can actually leave here with a necklace and a bracelet for under $25,” said Funk.

They had racks of jewelry, with something for anyone and any style but we grabbed an inspirational necklace and we were off. Mom’s gift -- done.

Next on the agenda was finding something for Grandma, and Sisters was the place.

“Beautiful gift to give your grandma if you’re having a hard time finding a gift for her,” said Funk. “These are 100 percent cotton. These are flour sack towels, that are Christmas Themes. You can get these for $19 at Sisters.”

Christmas themed flour sack towels, under budget and creative. We call that a “win, win.” Now we needed to find something a little younger for my sisters. Katie took me to 2-A-U for more jewelry and we landed on some bangle bracelets.

“This is a simplistic piece of jewelry, that can match any style of clothing,” said Funk.

They will run $4-$5 apiece and they come in metallic gold and silver. Most of the women in my life are taken care of and I still needed to get stuff for the guys. That required us to leave Valley Junction. We continued our shopping extravaganza at Best Buy in West Des Moines

When we got there we met up with Bobby Starace who gave us a rundown on some hot tech gifts this year.

”Convenient gifts, that really make life easier. You don’t know what you need until you have them,” said Starace.

He says that the most popular gifts this year are the ones that make day-to-day life easier. And for my grandpa, he spends way too much time looking for his keys. With that info Bobby picked out the Tile Slim.

“Great product for maybe the more forgetful people in your life. It’s kind of a lost and found device,” said Starace.

A little card goes in your wallet or on your keys then your phone can locate them wherever you are. Not bad for $25. I still had my brothers left and Bobby picked out a couple Google Chromecasts. With these they can stream whatever they want. It’s the gift of entertainment for under $25.

My shopping was almost done, but I still needed one more important gift for my dog Buddy.

“This is a light up dog collar, perfect for walking at night. It lights up a bright neon color and this one is in blue,” said Starace.

They have them in a bunch of different colors and brands but Bobby picked out the Squeaker Poochlight.

After it was all said and done, I came in under the projected budget. I learned a few things along the way though.

First, be firm on you budget. If you tell the sales reps up from how much you want to spend they will make it work. Try not to walk in blank. It’s very easy to get wowed and over-spend. I almost fell victim to this, and a TV almost came home with me.

Second, ask about gift wrapping. Many shops will offer this for little or no cost. If you’re way behind you might not have time to wrap everything. This will save you a ton of time and probably look a lot better than you can do. Also, it will save you from buying all the materials needed to wrap.

Finally, don’t be afraid to sign up for texts alerts. Many stores will post the numbers or codes on the doors. Most stores will let you use the discounts for day-of purchases. While the discounts may not be huge it will add up over time.