Books, jewelry, bouquets of flowers and candy used to be the norm when it was time to buy birthday presents, holiday surprises and graduation gifts, but gifts of technology and fashion are becoming the norm today. Staying on top of the latest trends is costly — that is, unless you know certain secrets. With a little planning ahead, you can be on the way to titles like, “World’s Greatest Mom” or “Number One Aunt” with very little out-of-pocket expense.

What Everyone Wants for Christmas (or any other occasion)

The first thing to determine is what the gift recipient would really want. High-tech gadgets like smartphones, devices to download and store music, tablet computers and other mobile devices are up in popularity in most every age group. Avid readers are swapping hard-to-carry hardcover books for lightweight eBook readers that store tons of books in a fraction of the space. Others may prefer the latest dresses, pants, tops or shoes. Whatever the person is craving, cash back rewards, gift cards and discounts are almost always available to help save money while getting the preferred gift.

Consider a Party for a Gift

Gifts don’t always have to be wrapped in paper and tied with ribbons. Some of the most precious gifts are giving of your time and efforts. Consider getting all the meaningful people in your gift recipient’s life together for a personal celebration of the event. Send out invitations at least two weeks prior to the scheduled event, up to one month before. Have those invited RSVP by email or on a social networking site, so you’re not overwhelmed with phone calls. Find the best entertainment, and don’t forget to use your rewards points and cash back from online shopping to help pay for it. Cash back can also be used to help pay for decorations, cakes, goodie bags for guests or to put together a special video on DVD to commemorate the occasion.

Earning Rewards for Online Shopping

By signing up for online rewards, people are using gift cards to save money on everything from the latest tech gadget to the newest and coolest fashion trends. It’s so simple, you don’t even have to keep track of what you’re earning. Simply sign up and continue shopping online, surfing the Web, playing games on the Internet and other activities you already enjoy. Amazingly, the points add up before you realize it. The next birthday, graduation or celebration that rolls around will already be partially paid for.